22 September 1974 |
|Occupation||Director, screenwriter, Actress|
Mania Akbari (Persian: مانيا اکبری , born 1974) is an internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, actress, artist and writer whose works mostly deal with themes of sexual identity, women, marriage, abortion, infidelity and lesbianism. Her style, unlike the long tradition of melodrama in Iranian cinema, is rooted in modern visual arts and the avant-garde. Akbari, because of the themes discussed in her films and her oppositions to censorship, is considered as one of the most controversial filmmakers in Iran. 
Later she was exposed to cinema by working as a cinematographer and assistant director in documentary films.
In 2002, Akbari and her son, Amin Maher, and her sister, Roya Akbari appeared in front of Abbas Kiarostami's camera for a documentary called 10. The following year Akbari directed her debut film, a documentary called Crystal. In 2004, she wrote, acted in and directed her first feature length film 20 Fingers, which won the best film prize at the Venice Film Festival's Digital Cinema section.
From 2007 to 2010, Mania Akbari worked on numerous photography-based works that were featured in various galleries around the world, while she kept making documentary and fiction films until 2011, when during production of her latest film, From Tehran to London (originally titled: Women Do Not Have Breasts), members of her crew were arrested by Iranian authorities for filming without official permission. Scared she too might be imprisoned, Akbari fled Tehran for London.
Since her move to London, various international retrospectives of Akbari's films has drawn attention to her cinema, among which retrospectives at the BFI, Oldenburg International Film Festival and the Danish Film Institute are the most notable.
Mania Akbari's first feature length film, a study of marriage and sexual identity, was 20 Fingers. Her debut film was screened in more than 40 film festivals around the world.
Between the years 2004 to 2007 she made 6 Video Arts titled Self, Repression, Sin, Escape, Fear, and Destruction, which were shown in numerous film festivals such as Locarno Film Festival and exhibited at museums such as Tate Modern.
In 2007, Akbari was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and the film she made on that same year, 10+4, Akbari explores the sensation of living "with both life and death." Akbari calls her second feature film as a sequel of sorts to Kiarostami's Ten. This film was exhibited at numerous festivals such as San Sebastian International Film Festival.
In 2010, Akbari made a documentary about the capital punishment and the execution of Behnoud Shojaee, titled 30 Minutes To 6. Although after the disputed 2009 election the filmmaking conditions in Iran was becoming more closed and controlled, she decided to make her third feature length film in Iran, titled One. Two. One., which also was exhibited in numerous film festivals around the world since 2011. In the same year, she started working on her next film, originally titled Women Do Not Have Breasts. During the making of this film numerous filmmakers were arrested in Iran, and since the state confined limit of expression contradicted her thoughts and true self and the barred atmosphere distanced her from her mode of expression, she left Iran for London and finished the film in the UK.
Mania Akbari's style in filmmaking is consisted of long takes, hand-held camera and almost painting-like control of color which is called "a cross between fiction and documentary." In an interview, discussing her style, Akbari pointed to "architecture and mise-en-scène within a space" as the most important elements in her filmmaking. "When I’m creating my frame, I really want it so that when each frame is seen the audience can imagine the space surrounding it themselves. The way that I’m creating the mise-en-scène within each frame, I’m trying to, every second, break the theatrical boundaries that people are seeing. In my view, I actually feel that it’s more like performance art than a theatrical performance. It’s as if I create a space for every single character and they come and perform within that space and share something with their audience, and then they leave."
Reception, criticism and controversy
After a complete retrospective at the BFI Southbank, her work was described as "remarkably fresh, audacious and relevant." Also, after during the BFI season, The Guardian noted that her feature films are "rivetingly human: pitiless, potent studies of domestic strife, and of the fight for happiness – and domination – in sexual relationships."
- Winner of the best feature film in Venezia Cinema Digital Section for 20 Fingers.
- The grand jury prize for the spirit of freedom in Bahamas International Film Festival.
- Best director and best actress prizes for 20 Fingers at the Digital International Barcelona Film Festival.
- Winner of the Most Innovative film Award for 20 Fingers at the Wine Country International Film Festival.
- Winner of the best film and best director awards for 10+4 at the Kerala International Film Festival.
- Winner of the best film for 10+4 in L'Alternativa, Festival de Cinema Independent de Barcelona.
- Life May Be (2014) (co-directed with Mark Cousins)
- From Tehran to London (2012)
- One. Two. One. (2011)
- 30 minutes to 6 (2011)
- 10 + 4 (2007)
- 20 Fingers (2004)
- Crystal (2003)
- I slept with my mother, father, brother and sister in the country called Iran (2012)
- In My Country Men Have Breasts (2012)
- Repression (2004)
- Sin (2004)
- Escape (2004)
- Fear (2004)
- Devastation (2004)
- Kakhe Niyavaran/ Niavaran Palace Gallery - gallery (Tehran, Iran - 2004)
- Locarno International Film Festival – special screening (Locarno, Switzerland - August 2005)
- 15th Videobrasil (São Paulo, Brazil - 2005)
- City of Women International Film Festival of Contemporary Arts ( Ljubljana, Slovenia - 2005)
- Peru International Film Festival - screening (Lima, Peru - 2005)
- Salento International Film Festival - screening (Salento, Italy - 2005)
- Rochester-High Falls International Film Festival - exhibition (Rochester, NY, USA - 2005)
- Gijón International Film Festival - exhibition (Gijon, Spain - 2005)
- Iranian Group Exhibition (Rome, Italy - 2006)
- Tate Modern at Tate Museum - screening of Video Art - Self(2007) (London, UK - 2007)
- Xerxes Art Gallery (London, UK - 2008)
- Caledonia Festival - screening (Udine, Italy - March 2009)
- The Royal College of Art - screening of Video Arts Self and Sin (London, UK - October 2009)
- Tarahan Azad Gallery (Tehran, Iran - 2008)
- 10 Gallery (Tehran,Iran - 2008)
- Tarahan Azad Gallery (Tehran,Iran - 2009)
- Magic of Persia's Auction (Dubai, UAE - 2009)
- Mellat Gallery (Tehran, Iran - 2009)
- Phillips de Pury & Company Auction (London, UK - 2009)
- Pierre cornette de saint cyr (Paris, France - 2009)
- Christie's Auction (Dubai, UAE - 2009)
- Bonhams Auction (Dubai, UAE - 2010)
- Bonhams Auction (NYC, USA - 2010)
- From Tehran with love: the cinema of Mania Akbari, The F Word 9 July 2013, retrieved 27 January 2014
- Iranian film-maker Mania Akbari: 'Cinema threatens the government', The Guardian 15 July 2013, retrieved 27 January 2014
- "What is Love?" Mania Akbari Talks About Life, Love, and 20 Angosht (20 Fingers), Bright Lights Film Journal issue 47, February 2005
- Official Website
- Mania Akbari at the Internet Movie Database
- BFI interview