Poets of Life

Special Documentary Karestan Film Series on Civil Society in Iran

Bilingual Lecture Series

Poets of Life
Sunday, May 19, 2019
3:30 PM
Dodd Hall, 121

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Poets of Life «شاعران زندگی»

A poetic portrayal of the life of Shirin Parsi - rice farmer, environmentalist, and social activist.
Director: Shirin Barghnavard
Artistic Consultant: Rakhshan Banietemad
Producer: Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
In Persian, with English subtitles

Shirin Parsi is a rice farmer, but not an ordinary one. After receiving a BA in French literature from the University of Paris, she returned to Iran and decided not to live in the megapolis capital, Tehran. Her husband had inherited land in Shanderman, a village near the Caspian Sea, so they moved there and took up rice farming. The Parsi family - including their two sons, who have stayed to farm with their parents - has instituted innovations in rice production. They promote sustainable farming and refrain from using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In a region where more and more farmers are selling their farms at very cheap prices to developers, the Parsis produce 100% organic rice. Shirin and her family have chosen an exemplary lifestyle which is rich in indigenous values. In addition to rice farming, she spends time as a social activist and volunteers with several local NGOs. She is especially active in women’s groups where she focuses on raising awareness. This film follows Shirin preparing the rice paddies until the rice harvest, as well as showing her social activities, as she attempts to bring about social and environmental change.


Speaker/Panelist: Rakhshan Banietemad
Moderator: Nayereh Tohidi (California State University, Northridge)


Rakhshan Banietemad, born in 1954 in Tehran, began to make documentaries for Iranian National elevision in 1979, after graduating from the University of Dramatic Arts, Tehran. In 1987, she directed her first feature film, Off the Limits. In 1991, she became the first woman recipient of the Best Director award for Nargess at Fajr International Film Festival in Iran. In 1995, she won the Bronze Leopard for The Blue Veiled at the Locarno Film Festival. Under the Skin of the City, her next film, was the highest grossing film in Iran in 2000. This film, along with Gilaneh (2005) and Mainline (2006), garnered major awards in more than 50 film festivals. In 2008, she received an honorary doctorate from University of London, and in 2010, she was awarded the Prix Henri Langlois from Vincennes International Film Festival. Her latest feature film, Tales, was awarded the Best Screenplay prize in the main competition section of 2014 Venice International Film Festival.

Nayereh Tohidi is a professor and former chair of the Gender & Women Studies Department and the founding Director of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at California State University, Northridge. She is also a Research Associate at the Program of Iranian Studies of UCLA. She holds a B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Tehran (with Honors) and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in educational psychology and sociology. Her areas of expertise include the sociology of gender and development; women’s movements; feminism and Islam; the intersection of ethnicity, gender and sexuality; and education and social change in the MENA region (especially in Iran and post-Soviet Eurasia). Her research awards and fellowships include a Fulbright professorship in the former Soviet Union; post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard University, Stanford University, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and a grant from the National Endowment in Humanities. Her extensive publications (written or translated into several languages) include many peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and editorship or authorship of three books: Globalization, Gender and Religion: The Politics of Women’s Rights in Catholic and Muslim Contexts (Palgrave, 2001); Women in Muslim Societies: Diversity within Unity; and Feminism (Lynne Rienner,1998); Democracy and Islamism in Iran (Book Co. 1996). She has entries in various leading encyclopedia such as Iranica, Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, and Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. She has also served as a consultant to the United Nations (UNDP & UNICEF) on projects concerning gender, development, and civil society building in the Middle East and Eurasia.

For more information: www.iranian.ucla.edu

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, This event is made possible with the major support of the Amuzegar Chair in Iranian Studies and the Musa Sabi Term Chair of Iranian Studies.