About

SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA

From September 2020 on bi’bak will embark on a cinema experiment at Haus der Statistik.

SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA explores cinema as a space for social discourse, a place for exchange and solidarity. SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA brings together diverse social communities, links geographically distant and nearby places, the past, present and future, and decentres an eurocentric view through transnational, (post-) migrant and postcolonial perspectives. SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is a transtopia, a place where “cross-border ties and connections converge, are reinterpreted and condense into everyday contexts” (Erol Yıldız). As part of the pioneering urban policy Initiative Haus der Statistik, the cinema experiment bridges the gap between everyday urban practices and film to create an alternative art form that connects different social perspectives.

SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is funded by Haupstadtkulturfonds, Conrad Stiftung and the Programm NEUSTART KULTUR

bi'bakino

bi'bakino is a curated film program that focuses on transnational narratives, migration and mobility discourses in film and seeks to stimulate differentiated discussions and changes of perspective. The program highlights films from outside Europe that have often not been shown in Berlin before, as well as archive excavations and rediscoveries. Following the film screenings, moderated discussions take place with filmmakers and experts.

Past event series can be found in the archive.

Series
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Curated by Eirini Fountedaki, Cornelia Lund & Holger Lund (fluctuating images), Philip Rizk and Shohreh Shakoory

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Critical Conditions

Fields of action in the environmental crisis

Curated by Sarnt Utamachote, Malve Lippmann, Rosalia Namsai Engchuan and Pia Chakraverti-Würthwein & Eirini Fountedaki

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SİNEMANINO

Children's cinema from SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA

Concept by Malve Lippmann

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Stories, continued

Films with absent protagonists, after the GDR, after 1990

Curated by Anna Zett and Philipp Goll

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PRACTISING REVOLUTION

Film programme and discussions with a focus on Belarus

Curated by Marina Naprushkina and Agnieszka Kilian

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The Forgotten Revolution

Iranian Cinema Before 1979

Curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht

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The Forgotten Revolution

The Revolution of 1978-79 changed both the fate and face of Iran. Like most revolutions, it also suppressed the past and its images and with it one of the most innovative cinemas of its time. This programme aims to show some of the key films from the more progressive cinematic revolution, which was discontinued by a social one for which the country eventually became known. Films banned, lost or simply forgotten are revived in this overview of Iranian cinema before 1979, which features German premieres of newly restored Iranian New Wave masterpieces. Starting and moving forward from the 1962 Oberhausen prize-winner The House Is Black, directed by poet Forough Farrokhzad, the programme traces the course of the blazing years before the Revolution.

Funded by Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa and is part of Draussenstadt

Ehsan Khoshbakht is a film curator, writer and filmmaker. He co-directs Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival of classics and film restoration in Bologna. An architect by training, he has written extensively on film, architecture, and jazz, as well as on American and Iranian cinemas.

To the events

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Common Cold

un.thai.tled Film Festival 2021

Curated by Sarnt Utamachote and Rosalia Namsai Engchuan

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To the archive

Events

Director Ebrahim Golestan Iran 1963-64

130 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Ehsan Khoshbakht and Jonathan Rosenbaum

Brick and Mirror

German premiere of the digital restoration.

When a passenger abandons a baby in a Tehran cab, the cabbie’s search for the mother becomes an existential quest. Iranian cinema’s first true modern masterpiece explores fear and responsibility in the aftermath of the 1953 coup. With its title alluding to a poem by Attar, Golestan's first feature mixes dream and reality, responding to the changing climate of Iranian society, the failure of intellectuals, and corruption in all walks of life. Golestan, a giant of Persian modern literature and a translator of works by Lenin, Dostoevsky and Faulkner produced this widescreen film in his own newly built studio.

The restoration has been promoted by Ecran Noir Productions and Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna under the supervision of Ebrahim Golestan. Restoration works were carried out at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in Bologna, with funding provided by Fereydoun Firouz/Ecran Noir productions and Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna.

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Ehsan Khoshbakht is a film curator, writer and filmmaker. He co-directs Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival of classics and film restoration in Bologna. An architect by training, he has written extensively on film, architecture, and jazz, as well as on American and Iranian cinemas.

Jonathan Rosenbaum was a film critic for the Chicago Reader from 1987 to 2008. His most recent books are Cinematic Encouters 2: Portraits and Polemics (2019), Cinematic Encouters: Interviews and Dialogues (2018), Abbas Kiarostami (with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, expanded 2nd edition), and Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia (2010). He maintains a web site archiving most of his writing at jonathanrosenbaum.net.

Director Dariush Mehrjui Iran 1969

100 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Ehsan Khoshbakht and Golbarg Rekabtalaei

The Cow

Exploring with a dazzling intensity the themes of solitude and obsession, this milestone of the Iranian New Wave tells the story of a poor villager (unforgettably played by stage actor Ezzatolah Entezami) whose only source of joy and livelihood is his cow. One night the cow is mysteriously killed and that’s when the madness, or rather transformation, begins. Based on short stories by Marxist psychiatrist Gholam-Hossein Saedi, it was banned from export but was smuggled to Venice Film Festival where it was highly praised

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Ehsan Khoshbakht is a film curator, writer and filmmaker. He co-directs Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival of classics and film restoration in Bologna. An architect by training, he has written extensively on film, architecture, and jazz, as well as on American and Iranian cinemas.

Golbarg Rekabtalaei is a cultural historian of modern Iran, with a broader focus on the modern Middle East. She is interested in the relationships between cinema, modernity, cosmopolitanism, urbanisation, nationalism, and revolutions. In 2019 she authored Iranian Cosmopolitanism: A Cinematic History. Rekabtalaei is currently an Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History and the Co-Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at Seton Hall University.

Director Bahram Beyzaie Iran 1972

120 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Nima Hassani Nasab and Ehsan Khoshbakht

Downpour

A young teacher is sent to a school in the impoverished south-end of Tehran where he falls in love with his student's elder sister, and directs all his energy into helping the students put on a stage show. Moving, witty and brilliantly directed in a dazzling and unusual combination of neorealism and political symbolism, Bahram Beyzaie's first feature was realised with a shoe-string budget. After the revolution, when many of Beyzaie’s work was banned, the film became inaccessible for decades until being restored by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation.

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Nima Hassani Nasab is a film critic and journalist based in Tehran. For the past three decades, he has edited the cinema section of multiple journals and newspapers. Having produced more than 30 documentaries on Iranian cinema for home video release, he also frequently appears on Iranian national television as a film critic. He currently teaches and produces film.

Ehsan Khoshbakht is a film curator, writer and filmmaker. He co-directs Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival of classics and film restoration in Bologna. An architect by training, he has written extensively on film, architecture, and jazz, as well as on American and Iranian cinemas.

OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa

A Simple Event + The House Is Black

یک اتفاق ساده Yek ettefaghe sadeh
A Simple Event
Sohrab Shahid Saless, Iran 1973, 80 min.

The premise sounds simple: a few days in the life of a young boy living by the Caspian Sea. Yet Sohrab Shahid Saless’s debut feature turns it into a tragedy which is whispered rather than shouted. Mysteriously quiet, the film’s characters are apparently devoid of any feeling, yet are still capable of making an enormous emotional impact on the audience. Saless made only one more film in Iran before moving to Germany where he continued to make films and never received the full recognition he deserved.

خانه سیاه است Khaneh siah ast
The House Is Black
Forough Farrokhzad, Iran 1962, 21 min.
German premiere of the digital restoration

The only film directed by the Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad before her premature death at the age of 32 is often considered one of the greatest documentaries ever made. Set in a leper colony in northwest Iran, the film is a dialogue between the passions of the poet (Forough Farrokhzad) and the voice of reason (Ebrahim Golestan).

Restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Ecran Noir productions, in collaboration with Ebrahim Golestan. Additional support was generously provided by Genoma Films and Mahrokh Eshaghian. Restoration work was carried out at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2019.

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Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa is a filmmaker and a professor at the Cinema and Television Arts Department, School of Media Arts, Columbia College Chicago. She is a co-founder and since 1989 the artistic consultant of the annual Festival of Films from Iran. She has written extensively on Iranian cinema and has co-authored a book on Abbas Kiarostami with Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Director Masoud Kimiai Iran 1974

130 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Kaveh Askari

The Deer

(including the alternative ending)

For two consecutive decades and in various Iranian critics' polls, The Deer has been revered as “the best Iranian film ever made”. Known for his rape/revenge drama Gheysar (1969) – which changed the course of Iranian cinema – director Masoud Kimiai adds an explicitly political dimension to the story of his typically defiant characters. Here, in a nod to Hollywood's “buddy film”, the familiar masculine hero of Iranian popular cinema is prompted into social action, far beyond the usual romantic conquests. This is 70s cinema in a nutshell: politically engaged, sincere, angry, tragic.

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Kaveh Askari is an associate professor in the film studies program at Michigan State University and author of Making Movies into Art: Picture Craft from the Magic Lantern to Early Hollywood (BFI, 2014). His second monograph, Relaying Cinema in Midcentury Iran, is forthcoming from the University of California Press.

OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Gita Aslani Shahrestani and Ehsan Khoshbakht

Chess of the Wind + The Hills of Marlik

شطرنج باد Shatranje bad
Chess of the Wind
Mohammad Reza Aslani, Iran 1976, 100 min.
German premiere of the digital restoration

A mesmerising riff on House-of-Usher-like themes, Chess of the Wind delves into a maze of power games, corruption and decay unleashed in an old house. Mohammad Reza Aslani's debut feature foretells a revolution to come, and masterly paints a picture of the inner, hidden struggles of Iranian society. This recently rediscovered gem was deemed lost after its only screening at 1976 Tehran International Film Festival (where it was largely misunderstood), until in 2020 it was restored by the World Cinema Foundation, becoming one of the most widely acclaimed Iranian pre-revolutionary films.

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. Funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, in collaboration with Mohammad Reza Aslani.

تپه های مارلیک Tappe-haye Marlik
The Hills of Marlik
Ebrahim Golestan, Iran 1963, 15 min.
German premiere of the digital restoration

A 3,000-year-old site in the north of Iran is simultaneously excavated by archaeologists and fertilized by farmers. With its poetic and political approach to history, this Technicolor short is one of Iranian cinema's most precious documentaries. Drawing converging lines between human life, art, and death, the past touches the present, creating a clear continuity among the forms of life detected by the camera.

Restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Ecran Noir productions, in collaboration with Ebrahim Golestan and the National Film Archive of Iran. Additional support generously provided by Genoma Films and Mahrokh Eshaghian. Restoration work carried out at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2019.

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Gita Aslani Shahrestani is a lecturer and researcher in film studies and specialist in Iranian cinema. She received her PhD from Paris-Nanterre University, focusing on Persian mystical ideas in Iranian cinema. She is an expert on the cinema of Mohammed Reza Aslani who is also her father.

Ehsan Khoshbakht is a film curator, writer and filmmaker. He co-directs Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival of classics and film restoration in Bologna. An architect by training, he has written extensively on film, architecture, and jazz, as well as on American and Iranian cinemas.

Director Abbas Kiarostami Iran 1977

112 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Rasmus Brendstrup

The Report

The Report was screened in Iran during the last months of the Pahlavi reign, but then all the copies were destroyed during the revolution (this screening is from the sole surviving element). As the Iranian critic Nima Hassani-Nasab notes, this film was totally aware of the chaos which lay ahead: “the characters are torn between a desire to revolt on one hand, and cowardice and social inaction on the other.” A major influence on many Iranian directors of the post-revolutionary era (including Asghar Farhadi), this deftly crafted, semi-autobiographical domestic drama was the director's first work to feature professional actors.

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Rasmus Brendstrup is a programmer at the Cinematheque of Copenhagen since 2004 and in charge of an array of minor film festivals. He holds an MA in Modern Culture with a thesis on the films of Abbas Kiarostami, and frequently gives lectures and writes freelance articles, particularly on non-Western cinemas and filmmakers.

OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Ehsan Khoshbakht and Amir Naderi

The Search + The Night It Rained

اون شب که بارون اومد Un shab ke barun umad
The Night It Rained or the Epic of the Gorgan Village Boy
Kamran Shirdel, Iran 1967, 35 min.

A newspaper story of a heroic village boy who prevented a train disaster spreads like wildfire. The incident, first reported and then challenged by local officials and journalists, is soon doubted and ultimately leads to confusion, with nobody knowing exactly who saved whom. Initially banned, this anti-authoritarian, Rashomonesque tale full of unreliable perspectives offers a crash course in 1960s Iran.

Jostoju
The Search
Amir Naderi, Iran 1980, 79 min.

Amir Naderi, known in the 70s for his gritty street films, was in New York when the revolution happened. But he made it back to Iran in time for his first feature documentary, searching for those missing after the Black Friday massacre of September 8, 1978. Influenced by Soviet cinema masters and Alain Resnais' Night and Fog (1955), the result, harrowing and urgent, was deemed too distressing to be shown and was shelved indefinitely, never to be screened in Iran until very recently.

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Ehsan Khoshbakht is a film curator, writer and filmmaker. He co-directs Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival of classics and film restoration in Bologna. An architect by training, he has written extensively on film, architecture, and jazz, as well as on American and Iranian cinemas.