Film Festival interview with Nacim Pak-Shiraz
Nacim Pak-Shiraz is a lecturer in Persian and Film Studies and Head of Persian Studies. In this interview, she discusses how she worked with the Edinburgh International Film Festival to shine a spotlight on Iranian cinema.
What can people expect from the Film Festival event you are involved in this year?
I will be leading a post-screening discussion of a recent Palestinian film entitled Love, Theft and Other Entanglements with the director, Muayad Alayan, and the actor, Sami Metwasi.
This is a film unlike any other Palestinian film you may have seen, where the conflict tends to overtake many of the narratives about the region.
Instead, it takes a refreshingly humorous approach, focusing on human fallibilities, unheroic characters and the daily banalities of life that happen to unfold in this unique and troubled socio-political context.
In your experience, how has the University enriched the Film Festival’s programming - both this year and in previous years?
The University of Edinburgh has facilitated the coming together of scholars, filmmakers, critics and a wide range of audiences during one of the most exciting times of the year for cinephiles.
Drawing from my own experience, the 2014 EIFF screened 19 Iranian films. In addition to introducing and leading post-screening discussions for 12 of these, I also organised and led two 90-minute panel discussions at the Filmhouse, which were sponsored by the University.
This was a rare occasion that brought together eminent and established as well as young filmmakers, scholars and the Festival’s Artistic Director to discuss the continuities and discontinuities of Iranian Cinema.
What do staff and students get out of being involved in the Film Festival?
It is that unique merging of the cultural and academic capital of the city that both students and staff will be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
Being involved in the Film Festival allows staff to engage with a wide range of audiences outside their own disciplines. It is also an opportunity to collaborate with various institutions and organisations, which is both enriching and rewarding. Very often, these can lead to further collaborations and events.
Following my first involvement with the EIFF, the Edinburgh Iranian Festival approached me to curate the Edinburgh Iranian Film Festival in February 2015. This comprised a series of 8 Iranian films over 8 evenings at the Filmhouse, which I curated around one of my current research topics, the constructions of masculinities in Iranian cinema.
These events also enable students to engage with the medium, industry, and the festival itself at a practical level.
Several of my students were involved with the Film Festival projects in different capacities. One even chose to write one of her final MSc course assignments on the audience responses to the Iranian Film Festival. Her engagement with the festival also inspired her to work towards creating Middle Eastern Film Festivals in Europe.
Have any other screenings or events especially caught your eye this year?
The Iranian film Melbourne by Nima Javadi, the Special Events strand, the Directors’ Showcase Strand did and I also really want to watch the documentary, Amy.
How does taking part in the Film Festival inspire you?
In so many ways: the collaboration with organisations outside the university, engaging with a very different type of audience, introducing a cinema and context that most are unfamiliar with, and the post post-screening discussions with a wide range of people who stay behind because they’ve become excited about what they have seen and heard and want to learn more.
Dr Nacim Pak-Shiraz
MA Honours in Persian Studies