My Mother – The History of Iran, 2015
HD Video, color/sound, 78:30 min. Language: English

Written and directed by Shahram Entekhabi

Based on interviews with his mother Agdas Al Moluk Dabestani

In 1935, Reza Shah decreed that the name "Iran" was to replace "Persia." In that same year, Aghdas Dabestani, the mother of Berlin-based artist Shahram Entekhabi, was born in Tehran. In his video work My Mother – the History of Iran, Entekhabi traces his mother's past as it converges with the country's history and presents a picture of Iran's current situation. Filmed in locations in Berlin, Istanbul, Tehran, and Kermanshah close to the Iraqi border, the film combines different types of images: Shots taken at various museums and monuments commemorating the bloody history of the 1979 Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Images of the everyday in the explosively growing capital Tehran, of its Mosques and Bazaars. Scenes in a Zoorkhaneh, a particular type of Iranian gym, where rituals are performed, combining martial arts, strength training, dance, prayer, and music. Historical photographs and documents from the family archive.
These documentary scenes are accompanied by an inner monologue that gives insight into Entekhabi's views on political phenomena of the country, such as social and cultural gender roles, the economical situation and the effect of the embargo against Iran implemented by the West, or the situation of the thousands of Afghan refugees who face systematic exclusion and maltreatment in Iran. In a second narrative strand, surreal and partly fairytale-like scenes are intertwined with a stream of images depicting the contemporary situation in Iran. These staged scenes, showing women and girls in silent settings are combined with a voice-over based on interviews with Aghdas Dabestani describing her life:
Orphaned at an early age, she entered into an arranged marriage with Ali Ashraf Entekhabi, a member of the military that was fervent proponent of Mohammad Mossadegh and a later political journalist that published his own magazine Voice of the West and had to go underground at times, before his tragic and all too sudden death. A lone parent of four, Aghdas Dabestani faced very difficult material and social living conditions, as well as the emigration of her only son to Western Europe.
In My Mother – the History of Iran, Entekhabi personalizes the narration of history in bringing together his mother's story with observations that he feels compelled to pass on. He aims to create an alternative narrative deviating from the mainstream historiography, portraying history as a malleable and subjective concept.t

Directing, camera, editing: Shahram Entekhabi
Text: Shahram Entekhabi based on interviews with his mother Agdas Dabestani
Translations: Amy Green, Sophia Schultz, Andrea Scrima
Narrators: David Allen, Andrea Scrima

My Mother – The History of Iran appeared at the following exhibitions and festival:
"The Sea is the Limit" at Yorkshire Museum / York Gallery, UK
"Cinema Iran", Iranisches Filmfestival München
"ROHKUNSTBAU - The Beauty in the Other", Schloss Lieberose, Spreewald, Germany
"History is a Warm Gun", n.b.k. (Neuer Berliner Kunstverein), Berlin, Germany

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