Sunday in Cph: Forough Farrokhzad’s film/poetry

About three years ago I spent a magical moment at Cinemateket in Copenhagen. Gyldendal had just published the first Danish anthology of the works of the Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad and the writer and translator Shadi Angelina Bazeghis, together with poet Mette Moestrup with whom she edited the book, was there to recite and talk about Farrokhzad’s poetry and programmer Rasmus Brendstrup showed us her film The House is Black.

Forough only made one film, it is a twenty minute long documentary about a leper home, a work that was commissioned by an Iranian charity organisation. The film blows you away.

The cinema was bursting with energy, spellbound and drunk on poetry we all ran out at the end of the event to by the book on sale at the ticket stand. I don’t think poetry has ever been handed over the counter at a speed like that – everybody had to own that book right now!

Fourough Farrokhzad was tragically killed in a car accident in Teheran in 1967.

Here are the words that Chris Marker wrote after she died:

Black, abrupt, ardent. These vague words make of her a portrait so precise that you will recognize her amongst thousands. February 13, at 4:30 PM, Forough Farrokhzad died in a car accident in Tehran. She was one of the greatest contemporary Persian poets, and she was also a filmmaker. She had directed The House Is Black, a short feature on the lepers, Grand Prix at Oberhausen, and beyond that practically unknown in Europe, and which is a masterpiece. She was thirty-three years old. She was equally made of magic and energy, she was the Queen of Sheba described by Stendhal. It was particularly the courage. She sought no alibis for herself, no pledges, she knew the horror of the world as well as the despair professionals, she felt the need to fight as well as the justice professionals, but she had not betrayed her deep chant.

For her first film, she went straight to the most unwatchable: leprosy, lepers. And if was needed the gaze of a woman, if is always needed the look of a woman to establish the right distance with suffering and hideousness, without complacency and self-pity, her gaze still transformed her subject, and by by-passing the abominable trap of the symbol, succeed in binding, besides the truth, this leprosy to all the leprosies of the world. So that The House Is Black is also the Land Without Bread of Iran, and the day that French distributors will admit that one can be Persian, we shall notice that Forough Farrokhzad had given more in one movie than lots of people with easier name to remember. She wrote:

“The soil tightly grips my cold body. Without you, far from the emotions of your heart, my heart decomposes under the soil. Rainwater, the gusts, later, quietly, will wash my body under the ground. My grave will be the one of the unknown freed from praises, delivered from the misunderstandings.”

Forgive me for the praises, Forough. Freed from misunderstandings, it is to be seen. But to remaining unknown, I do not believe that you will arrive there.

(Chris Marker, Cinéma 67, n°117, June 1967, the translation is borrowed from the blog: )

Sunday June 5 Shadi Angelina Bazeghis is back at Cinemateket, this time in company of the musician Mehrdad Zamani. See if you can still get tickets, you won’t regret it!

Forough Farrokhzad: The House is Black (Iran 1962, 21 min.)

Screened at the event Lut & Ord, Cinemateket Sunday June 5 at 18h. It is part of a larger program on Iranian film 1960-90 running through the month of June.


Kun stemmen bliver tilbage: Poesi og biografi, Forugh Farrokhzad, red. Shadi Angelina Bazeghi & Mette Moestrup, Gyldendal (2013)

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Sara Thelle
Sara Thelle
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