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.


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.
Managing Editor

Shabnam Golkhandan

Shabnam Golkhandan is a doctoral candidate at the Department of History of Art at Yale University and the recently appointed manager of Tavakoli Archives. Previously, she held research fellowships at the Yale University Art Gallery and before that in the Freer|Sackler Archive at the Smithsonian. Her academic history also includes an MA in the history of Modern Middle East and a BA in Art History, both from University of Toronto. Golkhandan’s academic interests include, along with the broader subject of the history of Modern Middle East, the historiography of Islamic art, the intermingling of text and image in the pictorial arts of the Middle East through the centuries, and the relationship between photography, painting and print in the last half of 19th century in Iran. Her diverse experiences have afforded her a globally aware frame of reference steeped in vernacular modes of inquiry and practice in places such as Cairo, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Tabriz, Tehran, Mashhad, and Bombay.
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 Members

Research Assistant

Hamoun Hayati

Hamoun Hayati is a web designer with the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of Toronto. He studied electrical engineering at Toronto Metropolitan University. Hamoun is the founder of the Toronto-based web studio, Hexpace, and has over a decade’s worth of experience working on web design and development projects with clients across different sectors. He is deeply passionate about the future of work and education and using technology to solve real-world problems.
Research Assistant

David Anderson

David Anderson is a Research Assistant with the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of Toronto. He is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University. His dissertation, Seeing Otherwise: Nature, Blindness, Memoir, reads memoirs written by a variety of blind, queer, black, and women authors in order to evidence how blind, marginalized, and ecological sensoriums—particularly non-visual senses like hearing, smell, and touch—can promote more just political, social, and environmental collectivities. David has taught as a sessional instructor for Sexuality Diversity Studies and Critical Equity and Solidarity Studies (University of Toronto), and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (University of Toronto, Mississauga). He has worked for The Intersectionality Research Hub (Concordia University), and the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology (University of Toronto) and is a consulting editor with Iran Namag. David’s most recent work has been published in Feminist Formations and Disability Studies Quarterly.
Research Assistant

Bilal Hashmi

Bilal Hashmi is a Research Affiliate with the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of Toronto. Trained in English and comparative literature (at U of T and New York University, respectively), he is an editor, translator, and educator, who has taught widely in Canada and the United States, most recently as an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Language Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga, and as a Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of Virginia. Bilal is a consulting editor with Iran Namag and is presently at work on book-length translations of twentieth-century Persian poetry and prose. In 2018, he was selected to participate in the inaugural Persian to English translation workshop offered through the British Centre for Literary Translation’s International Literary Translation & Creative Writing Summer School at the University of East Anglia. He serves as the President of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada/Association des traducteurs et traductrices littéraires du Canada.
Research Assistant

Abolfazl Moshiri

Abolfazl Moshiri is a researcher for The Iranian Women Poets project at the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies at University of Toronto. He received his PhD from the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto, in 2021. His doctoral dissertation which was generously supported for four years by Ontario Graduate Scholarship investigates the portrayal of Satan (Iblis) in classical Persian mysticism. His broad research areas include classical Perso-Islamic literature, Iranian Sufism, and the intellectual history of Persianate world from 10th to 16th century. Moshiri has been involved in several research projects including e-Campus Ontario, for which he developed online interactive modules for various courses in Islamic studies and Muslim civilizations to be offered across universities in Ontario. At the University of Toronto, he has also taught undergraduate courses on classical Persian literature and culture.  His forthcoming article entitled “The Ishraqi Path: Toward Systematization of Suhrawardi’s Sufism” offers a new approach to better understanding Suhrawardi’s weltanschauung, which puts a greater emphasis on his mystical inclinations instead of his philosophical viewpoint.
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.

Amir Anbari

Amir Anbari is the Digital librarian for the Tavakoli Archive at the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies, University of Toronto. Amir holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. His Master’s thesis, a survey of online Persian special networks and their role in knowledge management,  was the first study of its kind. He also has an MBA certification from the University of Tehran, and is Project Management Certified from Centennial College. After finishing his MBA, he taught several courses in Business Administration, Operation Management and Agile Project Management in the College of Engineering at the University of Tehran. He is an instructor at Centennial College’s Business School, where he teaches Digital Marketing and Marketing Project Management.

Amir was a radio guest expert for several years in the startup ecosystem of Iran. During his career, he has gained experience working with the National Library and Archives of Iran and the Parliament Library of Iran. In addition to this, he has more than a thousand hours of experience in placing workshops on library systems, knowledge management systems, and standards.

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.

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.

Nariman Gooranorimi

Nariman Gooranorimi is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto majoring in human biology, double minoring in near middle eastern civilization and French language. Throughout his studies, he worked as a Research Assistant at the Tavakoli Archives to ameliorate his research skills. Outside of academics, he is a peer mentor at the University of Toronto’s Medical Sciences Student Union; he has created and sold numerous profitable businesses and enjoys volunteering in hospitals during his free time.

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.

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.

Leila Moslemi

Leila Moslemi Mehni is a PhD student in the Department of Near & Middle Civilizations at the University of Toronto. She received her BA in Museum Studies from the Cultural Heritage Education Center in Tehran, Iran, in 2005. She received her first MA in Art History from York University in 2015, and later obtained her second MA in Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations from the University of Toronto in 2018.

In 2014, she interned with Professor Edward Keall in Iranian archaeology, maintaining an archaeological archive and creating inventory numbers for pre-digital images and records at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. She has also held an internship at ROM in 2019, working as a curatorial assistant with Dr. Fahmida Suleman, curator of Islamic Art & Culture with an ongoing collaboration in Iranian studies-related fields. She received the Mitacs Award in 2020, which enabled her to collaborate and work with her U of T supervisor, Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi at University of Toronto, on archival materials from the Tavakoli Archive. This archival research has helped her develop a framework that it is going to be part her thesis dissertation.

Sara 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.

Sara Molaei

Sara Molaie is a first-year PhD student at the Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations department. She received her MA from the University of Washington and wrote her thesis on the revival of the Hebrew and Persian languages in the 19th century. Her current research focuses on the poems of 19th and 20th-century Iranian women poets.  

Veronika Nayir

Veronika Nayir studies philosophy and ethics, society, and law. She has particular affections for hermeneutics, philosophy of history, and critical theory, and is interested primarily in questions of exile, trauma and memory, archives, and translation. When not writing she enjoys 20th century art and poetry, and Armenian studies.

Rahima Baluch

Rahimah Baluch is a third-year Human Biology student at the University of Toronto St. George Campus. She is a research assistant for Iranian Women Poets in which her goal is to help complete a journal issue alongside other researchers, as well as gain insight into Iranian poetry. Her interests outside of her position include literature, illustration, and writing.

Zahra Kazemi

Zahra is a dedicated graduate student at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), having completed her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. Beyond her engineering background, Zahra nurtures a genuine passion for Iranian history, art, poetry, and cinema. This deep appreciation has motivated her to delve into the world of Persian poetry, where she was actively contributing as a researcher in Professor Virani's esteemed Dream Team at the University of Toronto, illuminating the profound beauty and significance of Persian poetry.

Currently, Zahra has embarked on a new journey as a member of Professor Tavakoli's team, immersing herself in the Iranian Cinema Project. Driven by her profound appreciation for the arts, Zahra aims to offer a fresh and unique perspective to the exploration of Iranian cinema, highlighting its cultural and artistic importance.

Research Assistant

Amin Azimi

Amin Azimi is a Ph.D. student at the Center for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. His research interests encompass various aspects of dramaturgy’s evolution in the 21st century, the politics of aesthetics, and digital storytelling in contemporary Iranian theatre and film.

Amin has published academic articles in esteemed international journals, including Asian Theatre Journal, Alternatives Théâtrales, and Theater der Zeit, as well as Iranian journals like Film Negar and Cimia. Over the past decade, Amin has served as a lecturer in theatre and cinema at renowned universities, including the University of Tehran and Art University. Additionally, he has worked extensively as a critic for specific theatre and film publications and mass media outlets in Iran.

Besides his scholarly contributions, Amin has directed several plays and made short films and performances. He holds an MA in Cinema Studies from the Art University of Tehran, Iran, and a BA in Theatre & Dramatic Literature.

Elham Avard

Elham Avard is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto. Her academic focus lies on using Artificial intelligence for medical image analysis. She received her BA in Physics and M.Sc. in Medical Physics from Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran. However, in free time, she is interested in Cinema and Iranian poem, which encouraged her to collaborate with Cinema Iranica project as a work study student

Azin Golrizkhatami

Azin Golrizkhatami is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Civil and Mineral Engineering Department at the University of Toronto. Her area of expertise is Transportation Engineering under the supervision of Professor Matthew Roorda. Her current research is focusing on the pricing models of crowd shipping services. She holds a B.Sc. in civil engineering and an M.Sc. in transportation engineering from Sharif University of Technology.

Emma McDonald

Emma McDonald is a 4th year undergraduate student, earning a bachelor’s degree with a major in Anthropology and minors in Digital Humanities and Cinema. Emma is interested in how cinema is both a functional and reflective expression of social/cultural identities, on a personal and national level. She seeks to explore how representation of genre, in particular humor and comedy, is a key component in the unique characters of national cinemas. In addition to her academic work, Emma is an accomplished mixed media sculpture artist whose work has been featured as part of numerous collaborative projects with local Toronto artists and arts community spaces. 

Hibah Mehvish

Hibah Mehvish is a second-year student at University of Toronto, Scarborough. She is a candidate for Honors Bachelor of Science with a double major in Neuroscience and Molecular Biology and Immunology. She is part of the Tavakoli Archive as research assistant. 

Sogand Karimi

Sogand Karimi is an enthusiastic individual who is currently pursuing her Master’s degree at the Centre of Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Literature, where not only did she excel academically, but also actively participated in a wide range of creative pursuits. Throughout her studies, Sogand nurtured her skills in writing short stories, directing, and acting in numerous student projects. 

Sogand’s research interests center around the fascinating intersection of social studies and dramatic art. She enjoys exploring the social and political dimensions of the body in performance and dramatic texts. Through her research, she aims to shed light on the transformative power of theater and its potential to inspire meaningful societal change. 

In addition to her academic pursuits, Sogand loves engaging in various artistic and outdoor activities. She finds peace and creative inspiration in playing the piano. Furthermore, her passion for singing allows her to express herself and convey emotions through the magic of music. When she isn’t engrossed in her artistic endeavors, Sogand often spends time hiking and immersing herself in nature’s beauty, as she seeks out new adventures in life. 


Eszter Melitta Szabo

Eszter Melitta Szabo is a Master’s student in Near & Middle Eastern Civilisations at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi. Presently, she dedicates her efforts as a Research Assistant for the Women Poets Iranica Project at the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies. With extensive training in philology, she holds a BA in Indian Studies with a minor in Iranian Studies, specializing in the exploration of classical and modern languages and literature from both regions. Her academic pursuits revolve around the broader fields of 20th-century women’s literature, Gender Studies, and Anthropology, where she passionately explores their intricate intersections within the cultural tapestries of Iran and India.  


Tara Yazdanimotlagh

Tara Yazdanimotlagh is a second-year Mechanical Engineering PhD student at the University of Toronto, is delving into research that emphasizes the physical-based modeling of solution droplets in solution precursor plasma spray. In addition to her academic pursuits in engineering, she boasts a robust passion for Iranian cinema. Tara really likes to learn more about Iranian cinema history and develop her knowledge in this field. 



Robert MacConney

Robert MacConney is an MA student at the Department for the Study of Religion. He is due to begin his PhD at the Department of Anthropology in September 2023. Robert holds BA Hons in History from the University of Southampton (2016) and an MA in Iranian Studies from the University of Tehran (2019). For the last 20 years Robert has lived on and off in various countries in the Middle East, including the UAE, Iran and Turkey. He has a working proficiency in Persian. His previous research focused on Gilan and the Jangali movement. It has since shifted to the Caribbean practice of Muharram known as Hosay. His research seeks to connect his experience in the Middle East with his personal background as a British-West Indian of Bajan heritage. 

Saeid Amirzadeh

Saeid Amirzadeh is a PhD student at the Mechanical and Industrial engineering department of the University of Toronto. He has backgrounds in computational science, data science and programming. Saeid has done research in heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and biomechanics.

Parvin Malekzadeh

Parvin Malekzadeh, received the B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran, in 2018, and Masc. in Electrical Engineering from Concordia University, Canada, in 2020. She is currently pursuing Ph.D.  in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Toronto, Canada. Her research interests lie in the areas of signal processing, Machine Learning, Reinforcement Learning and Internet of Things. 

Fahimeh Fazel

Fahimeh Fazel is a Student Member of the IEEE, holds a B.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from the AmirKabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, which she earned in 2016. Additionally, she received an M.Sc. degree in communication systems engineering from the University of Tehran in 2019. Her research interests span several areas, including wireless communication, cache-enabled UAV networks, visible light communication, coding theory, and their applications in visible light communications. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto (Saint George) and working under the guidance of Prof. Jorg Liebeherr on distributed machine learning in communication networks. 

Farshad Tajddinisarvestani

Farshad Tajddinisarvestani is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, specializing in the field of mechanical and industrial engineering. His research revolves around the fascinating realm of Data-Driven Modeling, In-Silico Experiments, and In-Vivo Visualization of Cardiovascular Flows using cutting-edge techniques such as medical imaging, patient specific and physics-based simulations, reduced order modeling, and machine learning.  

In Dr. Tavakili’s group, I have opportunity to delve into the realm of Artificial Intelligence, with a particular focus on Natural Language Processing (NLP). In this capacity, I am involved in an intriguing Digital Humanities project, where I utilize AI and NLP techniques to unlock valuable insights and facilitate novel approaches to understanding various aspects of the humanities and the Persian poets.