A person wearing a mask

Azin Feizabadi, From "Adaban Analog, series of 48 Dia Positives", 2005

The Film Club: Cinema Rex

27.1 2023


What narration can embody a past event and emancipate it from becoming fixed? Come to the screening of the films “One Image, Two Acts” (2020) and “Subtotals” (2021) about the modern history and collective memory of Iran, and the filmmaker and artist Azin Feizabadi’s lecture-performance “Cinema Rex: A Story of Fire & Projection”. The poet and author Athena Farrokhzad starts the evening with a poetry recital.

The Film Club: Cinema Rex focuses on the events of August 1978 at Cinema Rex in the city of Abadan in pre-revolutionary Iran: a massive terror attack in the form of arson.

Looking ahead and at the past – and with an eye on the current “Woman, Life, Freedom” uprising, this evening will present aesthetic and poetic tools to comprehend, bear witness, urge, document, report and narrate past and present ideological violence.

The films and performances contextualise the fire attack, tell about the industrialisation and modern history of Iran, and perform desires, longings, destinies and singularities of the Iranian collective memory.

The Film Club: Cinema Rex is a collaboration between Asrin Haidari, curator at Moderna Museet, and Azin Feizabadi, filmmaker and visual artist.

Yek tasvir, do bardasht (One image, two acts)

by Sanaz Sohrabi, 48min, 2020 (CA, IR)

Thick pipes cut through the rocky desert in photos from the British Petroleum archives. While building the infrastructure for oil production in southern Iran, the company created an extensive image library. Filmd and photographs recorded not only industrial development, but also workers and society. Oil and progress are inextricably linked in these images. Later, a network of cinemas was created, providing the population with modern entertainment.

Sanaz Sohrabi edits, superimposes and comments on these historic images, telling a different story, of the effects of monopolisation and natural resource extraction on the internal political situation. And how, ultimately, the system created to produce and share these images was ultimately reclaimed by an emerging anti-colonial cinematic movement: the Iranian New Wave.

Majmouan (Subtotals)

by Mohammadreza Farzad, 15min, 2021 (IR)

Do you keep count your grey hairs? How many houses you have owned or rented? How many kisses you have exchanged? Or the number of times you’ve flown in dreams?  Maybe you don’t. It makes no real difference in a life lived beyond numbers.

Majmouan (Subtotals) is an essay film about not applying numbers to our life’s products. Inspired by a short story of the same title by Gregory Burnham and the novel “Autoportrait” by Édouard Levé, and composed entirely of 8mm home movies by Iranian people, Majmouan is a meditation on the uncertainties of a life that doesn’t hand you any bills.

Cinema Rex: A history of fire & projection

by Azin Feizabadi, Lecture-Performance and Dia Show, ca. 25min, 2017

By merging a slide show of Dia Positive photographs shot on a trip to the city of Abadan in 2005 with video excerpts, sonic bits, and a reading, this lecture performance raises questions about the atrocious fire attack on Cinema Rex in Iran 1978. What  elements are requried for the construction of a collective memory of this violent event?

Azin Feizabadi

Azin Feizabadi is a filmmaker, visual artist, and a DJ with a cause. His feature film debut “UCHRONIA” was released in 2019, the same year the book “After Cinema – Fictions from A Collective Memory” was published by Archive Books. The publication marked the tenth anniversary of his long-term project “A Collective Memory” and includes experimental essays, short stories, poems, and screenplays by Nanna Heidenreich, Ashkan Sepahvand, Jan Verowert, Sarah Rifky, Rasha Salti, and Shahab Fotouhi. In 2022, he conceived the screening and performance series lumbung Film: AFTER CINEMA at documenta 15. Azin Feizabadi is a member of the Berlinale Shorts selection committee and the programming team for the Kassel Video and Documentary Film Festival. He has screened, staged, exhibited and published his work at various film festivals, theatre houses, galleries, museums and biennials internationally.

Athena Farrokhzad

Athena Farrokhzad is a poet, translator and playwright. She taught creative writing for many years at Biskops Arnö and was appointed head of literature activities at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern this autumn, together with Ida Linde. Her fourth book, “Åsnans år”, was published this autumn by Albert Bonniers förlag.