Episode #9: Tina Hassannia’s Asghar Farhadi, Life and Cinema

Tina here, and I feel really weird writing this entry since our latest podcast is on, well, ME! And my Critical Press book, Asghar Farhadi: Life and Cinema. Amir is on vacation so I had to helm the blog-writing this month, and it came down to either no podcast or shameless-promotion podcast. And obviously we are going for the latter.

This month we use the book to explore and shed some light on Asghar Farhadi’s filmography, which spans just over a decade and six feature-length films. We discuss what it’s like writing a book-length study on a single filmmaker, the exciting Cinema Guild announcement made a few weeks ago about their releasing About Elly next spring, the importance of writing a retrospective on a mid-career artist, and Farhadi’s other creative output in screenwriting, theatre, and television, which will hopefully one day also get written about. Finally, we go long on our personal favourite Farhadi films. Hope you enjoy our final podcast of the year. Happy New Year everyone, and join us in the new year for some great surprises!

Intro 00:00 – 02:30 
How Tina started writing a book for The Critical Press 02:30 – 04:17 
From writing Ancient Persia Young-Adult fiction to… Asghar Farhadi 04:18 – 08:29 
Raising awareness of Farhadi’s earlier work 08:30 – 12:24 
Dancing in the Dust, the Iranian Breaking Bad 12:25 – 15:09 
Is it worthwhile to write a book on a mid-career artist? The answer is yes. 15:10 – 16:31 
How Farhadi has an answer for everything 16:32 – 19:42 
Examples of brilliance in A Separation 19:43 – 23:39 
Farhadi’s other work: TV, theatre, other screenwriting 23:40 – 25:24 
Tina’s auteurist approach in Asghar Farhadi: Life and Cinema 25:25 – 35:11 
Our Farhadi favourites: A Separation and About Elly 35:12 – 47:57 
Outro 47:58 – 49:20 

You can download an .mp3 version of this episode here, or subscribe to our show on iTunes.

Works cited
Tina’s book Asghar Farhadi: Life and Cinema (available from The Critical Press, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, TIFF Lightbox Shop)
Her publisher: The Critical Press
Tina’s video essay on morality in Farhadi’s work (Movie Mezzanine)
Book review and author profile (in Farsi: BBC Persian)
Dancing in the Dust (imdb)
About Elly (imdb)
A Separation (imdb)

Music: “Sonatine” by Maziar Heidari
Thumbnail image courtesy of Geoff Allen Stairs


Episode #8, Part 2: Rosewater and Not Without My Daughter with Diana Barboza

Welcome to the second part of Hello Cinema Podcast’s eighth episode. We continue our conversation with Diana Barboza about Jon Stewart’s Rosewater – you can listen to the first part here. We delve further into the film’s simplified politics and Stewart’s personal view of his film as expressed in interviews. We end our discussion with a look back at one of the earlier Hollywood films about Iran, Not Without My Daughter (Brian Gilbert, 1991).

Sally Field in Not Without My Daughter Sally Field in Not Without My Daughter

Gilbert’s film, in which Sally Field stars as Betty Mahmoody, an American woman married to an Iranian man (Alfred Molina) who practically holds her hostage in Tehran, was an opportunistic, propagandist film based on an eponymous book. At the time of its release, the Iranian press rightfully dubbed it an “Anti-Iranian” film, a sentiment that is difficult to argue with more than two decades later. We situate the film in the small but important canon of Hollywood films about Iran.

Introduction 0:00-0:24
Family relationships in Rosewater 0:25-5:14
Evading sociopolitical complexity 5:15-15:22
Stewart’s personal view of politics in his film 15:23-19:55
Not Without My Father 19:56-32:04
Closing 32:05-34:07

You can download an .mp3 version of this episode here, or subscribe to our show on iTunes.

Works cited
Jon Stewart’s Rosewater (imdb)
Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy’s Then They Came For Me (link)
Andrew O’Hehir’s interview with Jon Stewart at Salon (link)
Music: “Sonatine” by Maziar Heidari