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Born in Tehran in 1939, Parviz Kimiavi trained as a filmmaker in Paris and worked at the public television network Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française, before returning to Iran in 1969. He developed a rich documentary practice that flourished throughout the 1970s, approaching diverse subjects with a poetic and impressionistic sensibility, and exploring cultural tradition, modernity, and national identity.
Curators Catherine David and Sohrab Mohebbi present three works made before the 1979 Revolution: P Like Pelican (P mesle pelican, 1972), The Mongols (Mogholha, 1973), and The Stone Garden (Baghé sangui, 1976). As scholar Hamid Naficy has noted, Kimiavi’s films of this period employ “an authorial, surrealist, and avantgardist style consisting of realpeople enacting either their own lives or fictionalized versions thereof. P Like Pelican focuses on Aqa Seyyed Ali Mirza, a hermit whose contact with the children living nearby lead him to confront an unknown and symbolic creature: the pelican. The Mongols is a fictional feature taking up questions of alterity and the anxiety over the influence of such modern technologies as television in Iran. In The Stone Garden, Kimiavi visits the garden of Darvish Khan Esfandiarpur, a deafmute whose home became a religious shrine after he began to hang stones from tree branches. In each film, Kimiavi explores the status of community, arguably producing allegories of the nation during a period of tremendous transformation.
The Mongols Parviz Kimiavi (Iran 1973), 85 min