Inside the screen, beyond ideological borders
: exploring alternative female representation In Iranian avant-garde screen production

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The intention of this practice-based, criticalscreen production research is to explore both
the discourse and filmmaking praxis of representing women in Iranian avant-garde
cinema, a context that is previously overlooked. This thesis does this by producing a body
of experimental films entitled Naghsh/Pattern (2022) and Inertia (2018), and reflective
writings on the produced films’ developing process. Another objective of this critical
research-led screen production is to explore alternative approaches through which
Iranian indigenous filmmakers critique and challenge the Islamic state’s hegemonic
ideology and its repressive attitude toward women. In this respect, I posit avant-garde
film practice as an emancipatory and counter-hegemonic site for exploring issues
concerning female identity and representation. Experimental filmmaking acts both as
praxis and critical framework to understand and contextualise the technical, and formal,
and conceptual aspects of Iranian emancipatory screen productions.

Thus far, the correlation between ideological hegemony and avant-garde cinema has been critically disregarded by scholars of Iranian cinema. Discussion of resistant Iranian
avant-garde cinema is limited to Parviz Jahed’s Underground Cinema (Jahed, 2014, 2017,
2018), and Hamid Naficy’s ‘postal and accented’ definition of this rigorous and critical cinema. Accordingly, the focus of scholarship concerning the image of women in avantgarde films mostly revolves around auteurist-feminist approaches, which overshadow the resisting and emacipatory nature of these screen productions. This critical researchled screen production research project foregrounds the resisting-emancipatory spirit of
experimental filmmaking and argues that this form of avant-garde production is basically
driven by critical and creative vision. Grounded on this premise, I conclude that avantgarde filmmaking can potentially be practised in any authoritarian society, given its counter-hegemonic and adaptive nature.

In accordance with the practice-based screen production nature of this inquiry, the written and practical components are in correlation with each other. The two experimental filmmaking practices at the core of this critical research-led screen production research implement observational documentary methods (mobi-glaz, mobile eye) as a means of its objective inquiry. Meanwhile, expressive editing and post-production techniques are employed to bridge between the sematic and aesthetic
qualities. This technique of filmmaking suggests myriad creative and explorative
opportunities, which might emerge in improvisational, observational, and guerrilla
filmmaking with a mobile camera.
Date of AwardAug 2022
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsVice Chanchellor's Research Scholarship
SupervisorLisa Fitzpatrick (Supervisor), Murat Akser (Supervisor) & Victoria Mc Collum (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Iranian cinema
  • Practice-based research
  • Experimental documentary
  • Screen production
  • Middle East
  • MENA
  • Women
  • Female representation
  • Critical discourse analysis

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