Expired September 21, 2023 3:59 AM
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5 films in package
Lost in her hair(Monday)
Lost in her hair(Monday), starts with an excited young Iranian girl getting ready for her first day of school. As her mother is brushing her hair and dressing her, she has varied conversations with off-frame family members. Halfway through, the film cuts to the grown-up girl, isolated in a room, calling for a cab to an international airport, suggesting that she is about to leave the country. The second half of the film focuses on the last seconds of her residence in her home country, stuck between residues of intimacy and memories while an inevitable future overseas waiting for her. Oscillating between the self-portrait tradition and autobiography, this film illustrates one of many struggles of contemporary womanhood in Iran: hair and veil through a very experimental personal lens.
Freedom Is a Habit I’m Trying to Learn
The artist spent 24 hours with each of four women—Rogine, Waad, Hanin, and Zeina—in the cities where they now live: Zutphen, Oslo, Washington DC, and Sharjah respectively. All four of them cannot live anymore in their countries of origin, Syria and Lebanon. Together, they share a moment of cooking, rolling on the floors of their new cities, talking about life, nothing and everything, their exile and their continuous aims. This screening presents the chapters featuring Rogine and Waad.
Everywhere was the same
In an empty room, a slideshow projection of abandoned places plays alongside the narrative of two girls who find themselves on the shores of a pre-apocalyptic paradise. Told through subtitle text that weaves fact and fiction together, the story of a massacre unfolds. When the image and text malfunction and the story is no longer comprehensible, the video wanders away from the room of the slideshow, allowing us to see what is happening elsewhere.
At Home But Not At Home
Sanzgiri's father was 18 when India ousted the last remaining Portuguese colonizers from Goa in 1961. Combining 16mm with drone footage, desktop screenshots, and Skype interviews with his father, Sanzgiri utilizes various modes of seeing at a distance to question identity, the construction of memory and anti-colonial solidarity across continents.
Discussion with filmmakers Pegah Pasalar and Suneil Sanzgiri moderated by writer Mirene Arsanios
Discussion with filmmakers Pegah Pasalar and Suneil Sanzgiri moderated by writer Mirene Arsanios

The program EVERYWHERE WAS THE SAME places Basma al-Sharif’s 2007 film Everywhere was the same in conversation with more recent films dealing with diaspora as an indefinite condition. Basma al-Sharif has compared the diasporic condition to one of “bilocation,” the alleged psychic or miraculous ability to simultaneously inhabit two locations (places, temporalities, realities, identities).

The works in this program explore how the trauma and political struggle of a people are borne by individuals in diaspora, often over generations. In Pegah Pasalar’s Lost in Her Hair (Monday), the hair to be tightly braided and covered for a child’s first day of school is ripped furiously from a hairbrush as the artist prepares to leave her country years later. In Mounira Al Solh’s Freedom Is a Habit I’m Trying to Learn, we accompany two women reflecting on the habits and behaviors of their strangely pleasant new lives. In Basma al-Sharif’s Everywhere was the same, a hypnotic, semi-fantastical account of an exodus from an unnamed place gives way to a historic speech, before switching mid-sentence to a song taking us back over the vivid folds of an embroidered dress. In Suneil Sanzgiri’s At Home but Not at Home, the virtual, dual condition of diaspora extends also to the return: If the void left by diaspora can be filled by other places, it is also haunted by the unrealized moments of history.

Lost In Her Hair (Monday), Pegah Pasalar

My childhood was marked by documentations of a lot of firsts. My family, sharing my aunt’s lone mini-DV camcorder among their whole big group, has decided what the pivotal moments to be captured for me were. I have often asked myself, “Who were they capturing these moments for?” Remembering my grandfather’s ID, with no birthdate on it, I think about this footage as a way, an attempt, to construct or retrieve a rigid, tangible family history. On another note, in a family full of outspoken people who have had their bravery paid for with exile and prison, etc., I can’t trace any encouragement for leaving any written or captured documentation of anyone’s actual life in our previous generation. The reason probably involves their early years — a generation of pride, of protests, of revolution. A camera trained on the tumultuous streets of their youth, a cinema verité of the people, turned its lens, over time, to personal moments, zoomed inward. And yet, looking back – watching a red skirt and wavy hair become a dark uniform and tight, covered braids — these personal moments drift back to a political space. At age seven, the personal becomes public for all Iranian girls, as the law compels them to cover themselves in a specific way just to be able to attend school.

This archive of personal footage I inherited is precious, a reference point to discover the beginnings of the establishment of my future path. Warm voices, out of frame, present yet invisible. The wish for higher education, a seven-year-old girl’s knowledge of the word Ph.D. A cultural colonialism that has already taught this girl an accented English alphabet without even knowing her first language completely. These elements, and so many more unmentioned and unmentionable, eventually lead the young woman to leave the country, as if her life’s course were predestined. Keeping the family ritual of documenting, this time she is doing it herself, as if there were no one, nothing between her and the camera: a pure practice of writing with the camera, a video essay with documentary touches, a mirror of the influx of entangled subjects of a culture.

Pegah Pasalar (b. 1992) is an Iranian interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and film editor currently based in Brooklyn. Her auto-ethnographic practice encompasses video, installation, and film, exploring themes including identity convulsion, cultural memory, fragmentation, temporality, and displacement. Pegah is particularly interested in oral histories and modes of storytelling people use to refabulate the past. She is the recipient of City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs grant, 3ARTS’ Make a Wave grant, and the New Artist Society grant. She has also received fellowships including the Kala Media Residency Award, Bemis, Yaddo, Banff, and Points North. She was recognized as one of Newcity magazine’s 2020 Film 50 Gems and has showcased her work internationally.

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    Pegah Pasalar