Cinema Iranica:
A Digital Research Compendium

The University of Toronto, in collaboration with the Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation (EIF), is launching Cinema Iranica, an authoritative compendium on all aspects of film and motion-picture production in Iran. Cinema Iranica provides historical articles on movies, genres, film movements, filmographies, directors, composers, stars, cinematographers, set designers, sound specialists, editors, choreographers, film studios, movie theaters, film posters, film critics, and audiences, among others. Written by experts in Iranian studies and its cognate fields, and intended for both scholars and the educated reading public, the peer-reviewed and well-documented articles in Cinema Iranica are prepared following the highest standards of scholarly accuracy, reliability, and citation in the humanities and social sciences.

Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation

The Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation was established in 1990 to guarantee the Encyclopædia Iranica’s intellectual independence and ensure its ongoing publication both in digital and print versions. In addition to Encyclopedia Iranica, EIF publishes Cinema Iranica and Women Poets Iranica.

Editor

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, the Inaugural Director of the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies, is Professor of Historical Studies, History, and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. He was the founding Chair of the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto-Mississauga (2004-07) and has served as President of the International Society for Iranian Studies (2008-10). In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2001-2012), a Duke University Press journal, he was the Editor of Iran Nameh (2011-2015). He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Iran Namag, a bilingual quarterly of Iranian Studies, and is the co-editor of the Iranian Studies book series published by Routledge. Tavakoli is the author of Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism and Historiography (Palgrave, 2001) and Tajaddud-i Bumi [Vernacular Modernity] (Nashr-i Tarikh, 2003). Together with providing critical introductions in Persian, he has edited the volumes Civilizational Wisdom: Selected Works of Ehsan Yarshater (Toronto: Iran Namaeh Books, 2015); Jahangir Amuzgar: Selected Economic Essays (Toronto: Iran Nameh Books, 2015); and Ayin-i Danishjuyan: The First University of Tehran Student Journal (Toronto: Iran Nameh Books, 2016). Additionally, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Cinema & Women Poets Iranica: Digital Research Compendia. Tavakoli has published numerous historiographical articles in English and Persian on the topics of Iranian modernity, matriarchal nationalism, biopolitics, rights governmentality, and clerico-engineering. He is currently completing a monograph, Pathologizing Iran, which explores the emergence of modern diagnostic historical narratives and prognostic conceptions of politics. Tavakoli-Targhi is the recipient of two Outstanding Teacher awards from Illinois State University (1996 and 2001) and has held visiting fellowships at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University (1998), the Center for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, 1992–93); and Harvard University (1991–92). He holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in History from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago.
Associate Editor

Golbarg Rekabtalaei

Golbarg Rekabtalaei is a historian of Modern Iran, with a broader focus on the Middle East. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of History at Seton Hall University, where she also serves as the Co-Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program. She received her PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations from University of Toronto in 2015. Her research focuses on the cultural history of twentieth century Iran, especially the history of cinema. She is interested in the relationships between cinematic image and space, modernity, cosmopolitanism, urbanisation, nationalism, and revolutions. Her book, Iranian Cosmopolitanism: A Cinematic History, was published in Cambridge University Press’s Global Middle East book series in 2019.

Associate Editor

Khatereh Sheibani

Khatereh Sheibani is a scholar, author and curator of Iranian cinema and Persian literature and culture. She has established multiple courses in Persian studies (language, literature and culture) at York University. Khatereh completed her doctorate degree in Comparative Literature and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada in 2007. Her book entitled The Poetics of Iranian Cinema: Aesthetics, Modernity, and Film after the Revolution was published in November 2011 by I.B.Tauris, UK . She has co-edited a special issue of Iran Namag on Abbas Kiarostami (w/ Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, University of Toronto Press, 2018). Khatereh has written articles on modern Persian literature, Iranian cinema and Middle Eastern cinemas in literary and film anthologies and journals such as Iranian Studies and Canadian Journal of Film Studies. She is collaborating with Iran Namag for a special issue on radio to be published in 2021. She has written two novels (in Persian) so far. The first novel titled Hotel Iran will be published in 2021 by Nashr-e Ameh in Tehran. Her second novel, Blue Bird café is going to be published in Europe in 2021. Khatereh was consulted and interviewed on issues regarding Iranian cinema by broadcasting services and journals such as CBC, PRI, and the New York Times. Currently, she is on research leave to work on a book-length project on gender representation in Iranian cinema.

Research Associate

Research Associate

Sophia Farokhi

Sophia Farokhi is a Research Associate at the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of Toronto. Sophia holds a PhD in Iranian Studies. Her doctoral thesis, “Contesting Identities: A Critical Analysis of Iranian Identities,” examines contemporary Iranian political identities, their roots in Persian history, and their relation to more recent cultural and political phenomena in the Middle East and pays particular attention to the sociopolitical and religious influences shaping the perspective of contemporary Iranian political thinkers. Subsequent to the completion of her dissertation, she worked as a lecturer at several universities in Iran, where she taught courses in Iranian studies, political sociology, and political thought. She most recently held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Historical Studies (University of Toronto). Sophia is the author of numerous articles on Iranian society and politics, including “Cultural Schizophrenia: A Critical Analysis of Iranian Identity in the Thought of Dariush Shayegan,” and has written, edited, and translated several books. She recently co-translated The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation (2007) with Amirkabir Publisher, one of the most well-known publishing houses in Iran. This work has received wide attention in Iran.

International Editorial Board

Kaveh Askari

Kaveh Askari is an associate professor of film studies at Michigan State University. His research and teaching focus on cinema and media history in a global context. Special areas of interest include art cinema, media circulation, film and other arts, and cinemas of the Middle East. He is the author of Making Movies into Art: Picture Craft from the Magic Lantern to Early Hollywood (BFI, 2014), editor of a special issue of Early Popular Visual Culture on the Middle East and North Africa (2008), and coeditor of Performing New Media, 1890-1915 (John Libbey, 2014). He is currently working on a book titled “Relaying Cinema in Midcentury Iran: Prestige Cinema and the Archive of Hollywood.” Askari has served on the executive committee for Domitor, the International Society of Early Cinema Studies; on the jury for the Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival; as cochair of the host committee for the Seattle Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference; and as cochair of the SCMS Middle East Caucus. In 2017, Askari collaborated on a film program for Il Cinema Ritrovato, Tehran Noir: The Films of Samuel Khachikian, which showcased unseen films from the National Film Archive of Iran’s collection of genre films made before the 1979 revolution.

Blake Atwood

Blake Atwood is a media historian at the American University of Beirut. His research and teaching focus on the intersection of technology, culture, and politics in the Middle East. Increasingly drawn to media as material objects, he is currently working on a book manuscript about videocassettes in Iran. Atwood is the author of Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic (Columbia University Press, 2016). He has also taught at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the coeditor, with Peter Decherney, of Iranian Cinema in a Global Context: Policy, Politics, and Form (Routledge, 2014).

Laura Fish

Currently a publishing fellow at the University of Texas Press, Laura Fish completed her 2019 PhD dissertation, “Arisen from the Grave: Collecting and Distributing Mid-Century Iranian Popular Cinema,” in Middle Eastern languages and cultures at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of, among others, “Remixing Vulgarity: Reinterpreting the Legacy of Popular Iranian Cinema” in The Velvet Light Trap (2020), and “The Bombay Interlude: Parsi Transnational Aspirations in the First Persian Sound Film” in Transnational Cinemas Journal (2019).

Maryam Ghorbankarimi

A lecturer in film practice at Lancaster University, Maryam Ghorbankarimi is a filmmaker and film scholar. Born and raised in Tehran, she moved to Canada in 2001 to continue her education in film at Toronto’s Ryerson University. She completed her PhD in film studies at the University of Edinburgh in 2012, and her dissertation was published as a book entitled A Colourful Presence: The Evolution of Women’s Representation in Iranian Cinema (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015). She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has developed new practice-based modules in film at Lancaster University.

Roshanak Kheshti

Roshanak Kheshti is an associate professor of ethnic studies and affiliate faculty in the Critical Gender Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego. Her first book, Modernity’s Ear: Listening to Race and Gender in World Music (New York University Press, 2015), is an examination of the form of listening promoted by the US world music culture industry through which the modern listening subject is produced. Her research broadly centers on the consumption of race, gender, and sexuality through sound and film. Her scholarship has appeared in the Radical History Review, American Quarterly, Anthropology News, Parallax, Feminist Studies, GLQ, Theater Survey, and Sounding Out! She is the author of, among others, “Cross-Dressing and Gender (Tres)Passing: The Transgender Move as a Site of Agential Potential in the New Iranian Cinema” in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy (2009).

Michelle Langford

Michelle Langford is a senior lecturer in film studies at UNSW Sydney. Her core research and publication activities are driven by her longstanding interest in the cinemas of Germany and Iran. These vastly different national cinemas are closely connected through her theorization of allegorical processes in film combined with a close attention to the impact of socio-political and historical contexts on the development of film style. Her current research focuses primarily on Iranian cinema, which allows her to extend and expand her theorization of allegorical cinema into an area of national cinema studies that is both contemporary and dynamic. Langford’s most recent research project looks at the German films of the Iranian Filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Saless. Her newest book is Allegory in Iranian Cinema: The Aesthetics of Poetry and Resistance (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Behrooz Mahmoodi-Bakhtiari

Behrooz Mahmoodi-Bakhtiari received his PhD in linguistics from Allameh Tabatabaee University in Tehran, and is currently an associate professor and head of the Department of Performing Arts at the University of Tehran. His major fields of interest are Iranian linguistics and dialectology, teaching Persian as a foreign language, Iranian dramatic literature, and the discourse analysis of drama. He has published extensively in these fields and has also contributed to major reference works such as Encyclopaedia Iranica, Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Elsevier Science), Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE (Brill), and The Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

Nacim Pak-Shiraz

Nacim Pak-Shiraz is the head of the department and a senior lecturer in Persian and film studies at the University of Edinburgh. She completed a postgraduate program in Islamic studies and humanities, followed by an MA in the anthropology of media, and a PhD in film and media at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Pak-Shiraz is also active on the cultural scene and engages with international film festivals both within and outside the United Kingdom. She has curated three film festivals for the Edinburgh Iranian Festival, and organized and led workshops and panels at the Fajr International Film Festival (Tehran), Eskisehir International Film Festival (Turkey), and the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Pedram Partovi

Pedram Partovi, an associate professor of history at American University, is a historian of the medieval and modern Muslim world. His current research focuses on the history of youth movements and their role in creating and disrupting the political order in Iran and the wider Middle East. This project springs from his earlier work on popular Iranian cinema, which in its depictions of male heroism problematized the efforts of state agents to eliminate or coopt in the name of modern “progress” the often informal youth associations that had long organized urban public life. In studying these “reckless” youths on the margins of law and order, he challenges assumptions about the supremacy of the “state” that have characterized much of social scientific writing on the modernization of politics and society in the Middle East. Partovi earned his doctorate with honors from the University of Chicago. He previously held a visiting professor position in the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University and taught courses at the University of Michigan, DePaul University, and Columbia College. He is the author of Popular Iranian Cinema before the Revolution: Family and Nation in Filmfarsi (Routledge, 2017). He has also published articles in numerous journals including the Journal of Persianate Studies, Visual Anthropology Review, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Iranian Studies, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Mehrnaz Saeedvafa

Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa has an MFA in film from University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been teaching as a full-time faculty member in cinema and television arts at Columbia College since 1989. Her areas of expertise are cinema studies (international, Middle Eastern, Iranian, Exilic, and women, gender, and race in cinema), documentary film theory and production, and alternative forms. She has lectured and written extensively on Iranian cinema. Her book on Abbas Kiarostami, co-written with Jonathan Rosenbaum, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2003 (revised edition 2018). She is an award-winning filmmaker. Her films A Tajik Woman, Saless Far from Home, and Ruins Within have been shown in many international film festivals. Her short film A Different Moon was shown in several European film festivals in 2009 and picked up for distribution by European Spiritual Film Festival in France. Her latest award-winning film, Jerry & Me, which has also been screened in several domestic and international film festivals, has been picked up by Arab Film Distribution/Type Cast Film. She is currently working on a documentary about a house in Florence, Alabama, that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. She has been the artistic consultant of the Festival of Films from Iran at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago since 1989.

Sara Saljoughi

Sara Saljoughi is an assistant professor in English at the University of Toronto. Her areas of research are world cinema, film theory, critical theory, and postcolonial studies. She is currently working on a book manuscript, “Burning Visions: The Counter-Cinema of the Iranian New Wave,” the first study focused exclusively on experimental and art cinema in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s. By focusing on this period, she argues that it is necessary to reevaluate the Iranian New Wave as a counter-cinema movement that sought to interrogate notions of collectivity. Through an engagement with diverse Iranian art forms (such as poetry and miniature painting), the New Wave established itself as an alternative national project in opposition to the cinema of imperialism (Hollywood), the domestic commercial cinema known as filmfarsi, and the modernizing nationalism of the Pahlavi regime. Her articles and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Camera Obscura, Iranian Studies, Film International, Discourse, Film Criticism, International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Jadaliyya. She has also published in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women (2013) and The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies (Blackwell, 2016). Her second book project is a study of statelessness and cinema, which will examine cinemas of stateless peoples as well as questions of universality, style, and film language.

Saeed Talajooy

Saeed Talajooy is a lecturer at the University of St. Andrews. His current research focuses on the point of convergence between literary, performance, and film studies and on the reflections of the changing patterns of Iranian identity in Persian literature and Iranian theater and cinema. It involves studying the way Iranian playwrights and filmmakers refashion Indigenous dramatic forms, modes of thought, myths, history, and classical literary works to recreate their ideal images of Iranian identity, or the way they adapt non-Iranian novels and plays for the Iranian stage and screen. It reflects on technical, thematic, and intercultural adaptation as a way of promoting or resisting dominant cultural discourses. Another aspect of his research involves comparative studies of cultural resistance in African and Middle Eastern drama. He has taught world drama in English and English language, literature, and drama in Iran, and Persian language and literature, Iranian cinema, and postcolonial and comparative literature in the United Kingdom. Currently, he is working on a monograph entitled “Modernity and Iranian Drama: Plays and Playwrights,” a collection of five Iranian plays in English and his essays on Iranian theater. His teaching includes convening honors and postgraduate modules for advanced Persian language, modern and classical Persian literature, and Iranian cinema and theater as well as comparative literature.

Saeed Zeydabadi-Nejad

Saeed Zeydabadi-Nejad is a research associate at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). His publications have focused on Iranian cinema and media. His monograph, The Politics of Iranian Cinema: Film and Society in the Islamic Republic (Routledge, 2010), is groundbreaking in its ethnographic engagement with the question of media audiences in Iran. He has engaged with various research methodologies, from ethnography to digital ethnography and big data. Zeydabadi-Nejad was a postdoctoral research associate with a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Tuning In: Researching Diasporas at the BBC World Service. His teaching has spanned media and film studies, anthropology, and Islamic studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at SOAS, the Institute of Ismaili Studies (University College London), and Roehampton University. His media appearances include BBC World Service (radio and TV), BBC Radios 3 and 4, Iran International (United Kingdom), and VoA TV (United States). He has worked as a consultant on projects with Ipsos MORI and Iran International (United Kingdom). Zeydabadi-Nejad is the associate editor of the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

Reasearch Assistants

Research Assistant

Guita Banan

Guita Banan is a Research Assistant for the Women Poets project at the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies, University of Toronto. She is a graduate student at U of T’s Women and Gender Studies Institute, completing her Master’s with a focus on feminist and decolonial technoscience. In her research, she thinks about the question of agency at the intersection of feminist theory, feminist and decolonial technoscience, neurotechnology, and ethics. She received her PhD in physics from the University of Florida. Her area of focus in her PhD was, broadly speaking, biophysics of the brain and neuroimaging, which shapes her current interests as she pursues her studies in science and technology studies. Guita received her BSc in physics from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran.
Research Assistant

Zahra Farazi

Zahra (Sara) Farazi is a Research Assistant for the Women Poets project at the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies, University of Toronto. She is Master’s student in Child and Youth Care at Toronto Metropolitan University with a focus on new immigrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East. She is currently doing her internship at FCJ, which helps and supports immigrants from all over the world. Her area of interests are cinema, history, and literature.
Research Assistant

Negar Banisafar

Negar Banisafar is a first-year MA student in Near & Middle Eastern Civilisations at the University of Toronto, under Professor Tavakoli-Targhi’s supervision. Currently, she works as a research assistant for the Iranian Cinema project and the phenomenal Tavakoli Archive, both at the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies. She was one of the recipients of the Scholars-at-Risk Fellowship from the School of Graduate Studies and Massey College at U of T. She studied English Language and Literature at Allameh Tabataba’i University for her BA, and she also has an MA in Dramatic Literature from Soore Art University in Iran. For her MA thesis in Dramatic Literature, she focused on the textual analysis of Lacanian desire in a selection of Iranian plays written during the 1960s.
Research Assistant

Gunha Kim

Gunha Kim is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto. He received his BA and MA in Asian Languages and Civilizations from Seoul National University. His academic focus is on the twentieth-century social and intellectual history of Iran. He has particular interests in the topic of Iranian masculinities and gendered temporality.
Research Assistant

Natasha Shokri

Natasha Shokri holds an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the United Nations-mandated University for Peace. Her Master’s dissertation scrutinizes water as a catalyst for peacemaking in the Middle East. Natasha has been nominated for, and has received, various awards and distinctions, including that of UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador for her peacebuilding and human rights activities. Currently, she is working on her doctoral degree in Social Justice Education at OISE, University of Toronto. Her research interests are black feminism; critical media education; the science of happiness and education; peace education; the pedagogy of hope; and refugee education.
Research Assistant

Fatemeh Rastegar Jooybari

Fatemeh Rastegar has a considerable background in biomedical engineering, medical imaging, and programming. Her Master’s thesis, “Online Reconstruction of Magnetic Resonance Images with Radial Acquisition through Polar Fourier Transform,” required extensive programming skills for medical imaging devices. She is an expert in several programming languages (such as C++, C#, Python and Shell Scripts) and has used her knowledge in her field of Medical Imaging, both during the course of her studies and later as part of her work experience designing engineering user interfaces and websites. She has authored many publications, including papers in both English and Persian, and is the co-author of a Persian book.