Director: Shoja Azari
Shoja Azari was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1953. As a teenager, Azari experimented with short films, and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution involved himself in underground culture – literature, theater, and politics. After moving to New York in 1983, he received a Master’s degree in Psychology from New York University. He met artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat in 1997, and they have developed a body of collaborative work, which includes video installations, short films and a multimedia theater piece.
In his work, Azari confronts broad themes of gender, politics and piety, drawing inspiration from and re-interpreting religious icons. While collaborating with Neshat on a wealth of film and video projects, Azari created experimental and art house films, including an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s work, called K (2000) and a series of short films, Windows (2005). Windows premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, bringing him into the public eye. Azari and Neshat’s film Women Without Men won the Silver Lion for best director at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Azari has since developed a style of “video paintings” that combine media to produce a unique three-dimensional effect. He has partnered with artist Shahram Karimi on a variety of multimedia projects.
Azari’s work has been exhibited globally, with solo shows throughout Europe and North America; his first solo show was at Leila Heller Gallery in 2010. Azari has participated in exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, at museums such as Germany’s Haus der Kulturen and the MUSAC in Spain, and at art fairs including Art Basel, Switzerland, ARCO, Spain, and Art Dubai. His works are in the permanent collections of various museums and foundations, including the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in the United States, and the Farjam Collection in the UAE. He lives and works in New York.
Producer: Shirin Neshat
Artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran in 1957, and left to study art in the United States at age 17. Neshat graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with an MFA in 1982. Her video installations and photographic works explore the political and social conditions of Iranian and Muslim culture, particularly focusing on gender issues and questions of power. Neshat's work in various media reveal poetic meditations on memory, martyrdom, revolution and social change.
Neshat has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and museums worldwide, including: the Detroit Institute of Arts (2013); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2006); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2005); the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002); Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2001); and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2000), among others. She is the recipient of various awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale (1999), the Hiroshima Freedom Prize (2005), the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2006), and the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum, Davos (2014). In 2009, Neshat directed her first feature-length film, Women Without Men, which received the Silver Lion for Best Direction at the Venice International Film Festival. Declared Artist of the Decade in 2010 by The Huffington Post, Neshat is represented by Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. The artist currently lives and works in New York.
Producer: Blake Ashman-Kipervaser
Blake Ashman-Kipervaser is a freelance producer and production manager based in New York City, and local to South Florida. He has 17 years of experience in the industry working on a wide-range of projects including award-winning feature narratives and documentaries, commercials, branded content, short films, music videos and industrials.
He produced STARLET, directed by Sean Baker, which won the Robert Altman Award, and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards. He co-produced RIVER OF FUNDAMENT, a hybrid film/opera nearly six hours long, directed by Matthew Barney (THE CREMASTER CYCLE), and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ellen Burstyn, Paul Giamatti, and Elaine Stritch. It premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in 2014, and is currently touring internationally at opera houses and proscenium theaters.
In 2010, he produced THE LOTTERY, directed by Madeleine Sackler, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.
Most recently he produced THE ADK, directed by Shoja Azari, and the short film PEACOCK KILLER, directed by Boyd Holbrook.
Producer: Ahmad Diba
Director of Photography: Ghasem Ebrahimian
He formed Ebrafilms with Coleen Higgins in 1980 and the company produced over forty documentaries for Italian and French televisions among other commercial productions.
His feature film The Suitors which he wrote and directed was an official selection for Cannes Film Festival in 1988 and was nominated for Camera d'OR. The Suitors was theatrically released in the US and was shown on Germany's WDR and UK's Channel 4.
In 1997 he began his collaboration with Shirin Neshat on a number of filmed video Installations as director of photography and co-writer. Their first collaboration, Turbulent, won the first international prize at 1999 Venice Biennale. The following installations: Rapture- Soliloquy- Possessed- Fervor- Pulse and Mahdokht have been shown in Museums and galleries around the world.
His film, The Sacred, The Absurd, about the last day in the life of celebrated Iranian writer, Sadegh Hedayat, premiered at Victoria and Albert Museum in London and was nominated for best short film at Tribeca Film Festival in 2005.
Ghasem's feature screenplay writing credits include, Tranquility in the Presence of Others, A Solider of Misfortune with Hubert Selby Jr. (author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream), Absolute Faith, based on his story which he co-wrote with Donald E. Westlake. His screenplayCamelia/aka Remis, based on a true story about a female journalist in Iran, is to go into production in 2014. For UK based company Matmedia he wrote Rumi, about the life and time of the great Persian poet. Ghasem was commissioned by Arte and Matmedia to write the screenplay forHouse of Wisdom: The Genius of Baghdad about the historical founding of Baghdad and the emergence of the house of wisdom that gave rise to five hundred years of documented scientific and artistic achievements.His screenplay Shakespeare in Tehran has been optioned by Daria Jovicic of LatitudeMedia. He is set to direct Shakespeare in Tehran in 2014.
Production Designer: Shahram Karimi
Born in 1957 , Iran, Shahram Karimi grew up in Shiraz. He is a self made artist who has been successful both in his own country and in the West. Karimi’s works have been exhibited in numerous countries ranging from Iran, Turkey, Germany, US, and Switzerland to name a few. Shahram Karimi’s paintings portray the dilemma of the contemporary bicultural Iranian who seeks his historical and personal identity by wedding his personal past with contemporary form. Each one of Karimi’s paintings relates a fragment of his memories and national history, each a piece of his personal past. People, flowers, the ambience of an Iranian village stranded on his canvas bespeak of the past simplicity of Iran and yet in the remote corners of the same piece we often come across the depiction of a real historical event blended into the weaves of the artist’s canvas. Thus does the painter strive to unfold the dust of oblivion from his own memory and unveil the identity of the contemporary Iranian lost in a world of a much loved simple past and a fast tracking contemporary present that bears no relationship with the world of his childhood. This is where Karimi realizes the need for elements from his Iranian background and this is where he turns to Iranian poetry to thread it through his works and thereby to leave its mark. The writings in his works are hard to read and are in fact only threads that rise out of the painting to join its various corners together and to leave the reader with the unforgettable remembrance of where it all stemmed from: the Persian poem that Iranians take such pride in and which to them is the single indivisible cultural element they all embrace. And yet the painter goes even further: the separate frames of memory he leaves in various corners of his work rise from his personal conscious and unconscious. Karimi’s misty background greys and blues force the viewer to witness how what we see as memory still lives on in us to control, influence and shape our present. Shahram Karimi is presently living and working in Germany and the United States.
Co-Writer and Composer: Johnny Azari
Johnny Azari was born in Shiraz, a city known for wine, poetry, opium, and revolution. At only a year old, he was relocated to a city known as New York; noted for grit, madness, money, and proliferation. He is current living in New Orleans attempting to abort his liver like a stillborn when he isn't on tour. Johnny plays his own strain of foot stomping, slide guitar, finger picking, vocal howling, delta-blues. His live shows blend a traditional style of music with storytelling and comedy. Azari has been on national tour since 2013, playing over 300 shows. He has released two LP’s with his third set for a 2015 release. Azari has scored film (“Illusions & Mirrors,” starring Natalie Portman), served as guest lecturer and performer at Brown University and seen two of his videos, “Occupation Blues” and “Freedom Glory Be Our Name” gain viral success. Johnny Azari is your 21st century rambling man.