Mehrdad Oskouei

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Mehrdad Oskouei
مهرداد اسکویی
Personal details
Born (1969-09-12) September 12, 1969 (age 48)
Tehran, Iran
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, producer, and photographer

Mehrdad Oskouei (Persian: مهرداد اسکویی‎‎; born in Tehran, Iran in 1969) is an Iranian independent producer, director and screenwriter of documentary films and film educator.

Biography[edit]

Iranian filmmaker, photographer and researcher. MFA in film directing from the Department of Film and Theater of Tehran University of Fine Arts. Most of his films have been shown at respected festivals both at home and abroad with many receiving critical acclaim. His films being shown at over 400 national and international film festivals in over 50 countries and having won over 90 awards makes him one of the most outstanding Iranian documentary makers. In 2010, Oskouei received the Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands for his achievements.[1]

Oskouei has attended various international film festival studies programs including The Berlinale Talent Campus, The German Academy of Fine Arts, The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam Academy (IDFAcademy) as well as film workshop in France, England, Poland, Switzerland, the UAE and Germany under such esteemed filmmakers as: Albert Maysles, Richard Leacock, Frederick Wiseman, Edward Mills-Aslim, Ross McElwee, Nick broomfield, Kim Longinotto, Viktor Kossakovsky, Wim Wenders, Anthony Minghella, Yemane Demissie, Manuela Migoshco, Leonard Retel Helmrich and Walter Murch.[2]

In 2010, Oskouei received the life-time achievement in documentary making from the Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association at the House of Cinema awards ceremony.In January 2015, The Gilan province Islamic Cultural Center awarded him for his archival research and pictorial history of their province. Oskouei directed the Iranian Cultural Special Documentary Committee from 2004 until 2008. His film The Last Days of Winter was screened in France in 2013. He was a founding member of the Institute of Anthropology and Culture, where he interviewed many prominent Iranian and foreign filmmakers and artists.[3]

In 2016, Oskouei was awarded best director prizes for the film at both the Cinéma Vérité and Fajr film festivals in Iran and the Amnesty International Prize at the Berlinale (an award he shared with the festival’s Golden Bear winner, Fire at Sea). He also had been honoring as the recipient of the festival’s True Vision Award at True/False Film Fest in Missouri.[4]

Oskouei has been a judge at 120 renowned film festivals, as well as being a cultural ambassador for the United Nation's humanitarian committee UCHA.[5] Oskouei is also on the boards of; Iranian Short Film Association, Documentary Filmmakers of Iran, The National Iranian Photographers Association, European Documentary Network EDN, International Documentary Association IDA. He also teaches at film schools around Iran as well as being active in the Tehran Arts and Culture Association.

Oskouei has been awarded many prizes. Here is a partial list; The icon from IDFA Netherlands,The Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award & Full Frame Inspiration Award, Icon for Berlin film festival, Icon for best film at Hot Docs festival/ Canada, Golden Dragon award best film, krakow festival, Best Documentary at Munich/Germany, Best film Documentary Festival Montreal/ Canada, Special Award Montevideo Bulgaria,Best Documentary Voladero, Mexico. The Visual Heritage Center of Iran was founded in 2011 by Oskouei along with the cooperation of researchers in various fields. The heritage’s activities are centered on historical photographs and post cards of Iran.

Filmography[edit]

Oskouei made dozens of documentary films such as:

International Film Festival & Awards[edit]

  • Winner of Pare Lorentz Award at IDA(International Documentary association), 2016, Los Angeles, USA, (Starless dreams)[8]
  • Winner of best feature documentary at the 10th Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC), 2016, Australia, (Starless dreams)[9]
  • Grierson Award for the best documentary at the 60th BFI London Film Festival, October 5 to 16,2016, London, England, (Starless dreams)[10]
  • Best Full-length Documentary Award at the 26th International Message to Man Film Festival, September 23 to October 1, 2016, Saint Petersburg, Russia, (Starless dreams)[11]
  • The main prize of films focusing on human rights at The Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF), September 20 to 28, 2016,Bergen Norway,(starless dreams)[12]
  • The DokuFest international film Festivcal,2016, Pizren, Kosova, starless dreams/ The "special mention" of jury for The HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD[13]
  • Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2016, U.S.A, Starless dreams/ The Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award
  • Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2016, U.S.A, Starless dreams/ Full Frame Inspiration Award
  • True vision Award, 2016, U.S.A, (Starless dreams)/ The years' True Vision Award
  • 66th Berlin Film Festival, 2016, Germany, (Starless dreams)/ AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FILM PRIZE[14]
  • 34th Fajr International Film Festival, 2016, Iran, (Starless dreams)/ Winner of best director Award
  • 12th Escales Documentaries, 2012, La Rochelle, France, (The last days of winter)/ winner of youth selection Award
  • 21st "Traces de vies" Festival,2012, Clermont-Ferrand,France, (The last days of winter)/ Jury’s special Mention
  • 7th international Oriental Film Festival, 2012, Geneva, Switzerland, (The last days of winter)/ Winner of Golden FIFOG for the best documentary
  • 24th int Documentary film festival Amsterdam, 2011, Amsterdam, Netherlands, (The last days of winter)/ winner of BLACKBERRY IDFA DOCU AWARD
  • 6th Planet DOC Review Film Festival, 2009, Worsow, Poland, (It's always late for freedom)/ Mention of the Jury[15]
  • Hot Docs Int'L Film festival, 2008, Toronto, Canada, (It's always late for freedom)/ The Best Mid – Length Documentary Award
  • 15th int'L DOC Fest SHEFFIELD,2008,SHEFFIELD, England, (It's always late for freedom)/ Nominated of the John Grierson Award [16]
  • Med int’L Film Festival,2008 , Rome,Italy, (It's always late for freedom)/ Special Mention
  • 3rd Ukrainian Int'l Doc Film Festival Contact, 2007, Kyiv, Ukraine, (It's always late for freedom)/ Special Jury Award [17]
  • 7th Int’l F.F Watch Docs, 2007, Warsaw, Poland, (It's always late for freedom)/ Nominated of Best Mid – length Documentary
  • 28th Festival International Cinema Du Reel, 2006, Pompidou Center, France,(Maryam of Hengam Island)
  • 3rd International Film Festival on Human Rights, 2005, Geneva, Switzerland, (The Other Side of Burka)
  • 20th International Munich Doc Film Festival, 2005, Munich, Germany/ (The Other Side of Burka
  • One World International Premiere Award, 2005, London, England, (The Other Side of Burka)
  • V Voladero International Film & Video Festival,2004, Mexico, (The Eclipse)/second prize for documentary film festival
  • 17th International Documentary Film Festival, 2004, Amsterdam (IDFA), Netherlands,(The Other Side of Burka)
  • V voladero international film and video festival, 2004, MEXICO,(The Eclipse)/SECOND PLACE Documentary
  • IV Voladero International Film Festival, Mexico, 2003,(I Can't Remember Anything About Afghanistan)/ the best prize
  • EVRY international film festival,2003,France,(My mother’s home lagoon), The Grand Prize of the jury
  • EBENSEE FESTIVAL DER NATIONEN ,2003, Austria,(The Eclipse)/ EBENSEER baren in silver
  • IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam,2002, Netherlands,(I Can't Remember Anything About Afghanistan)
  • EBENSEE Festival Der Nationen, 2002, Austria, (I Can't Remember Anything About Afghanistan)/ silver medal
  • YAMAGATA International Documentary Film Festival, 2001, Japan, (The Eclipse)
  • EBENSEE international short film festival,2000, Austria, (My mother’s home lagoon), EBENSEE Baren in silver
  • 5th International Short Film Festival of the Iranian Young Cinema Society, 2000, Tehran, (The Eclipse)/the best documentary prize
  • MAREMMA doc int’l film festival, 2000, Italy, (My mother’s home lagoon)/ GRAND prize of the jury, The first prize of the audience.

Performance Art[edit]

Mehrdad Oskouei performance art directorial debut at Shirin Gallery in Tehran, Nov. 2015 along with Sarvnaz Alambeigi as well as Atieh Atarzadeh and Loghman Khaledi.[18]

A conversation is a dialog that happens between two or more people. In documentary filmmaking there are many ways of entering into a dialog with the subject and the result is recorded. What the audience sees in the end is the product of these dialogs. In the collection of films shown at Shirin Gallery, the artists struggle to attain this concept of dialog in documentary film through various approaches with this dialog, and then by removing the documentary itself enter into a dialog inside the gallery in different ways. Oskouei explains this performance as "…We have created an atmosphere where adults could imagine what laws they could have broken as children that would have sent them to a juvenile correction institute. We created a minimal setting that resembled the detention facility, volunteers confessed, filled out forms and were given uniforms, they were weighed and measured and were quarantined. Finally they were told that the documentary was about to begin and asked if they were they ready to be interviewed. Most agreed to be interviewed. What took me unaware and made this performance unique for me were the reactions of the participants. Their discomfort and anxiety was enough to transform them into real criminals.

The History of the Visual Heritage Center of Iran[edit]

The Visual Heritage Center of Iran is a specialized organization dedicated to the collection and study of Iranian historical photographs and post cards. It was founded in 2011 and has been continuously active in the field of historical photographs and post cards. Since its inception this center has had three main sections; research, archives and administration and has been under the directorship of its founder, Mehrdad Oskouie. Working together with his group of specialists the center focuses its attention on; history, photography, literature, cinema, the preservation and documentation of historical artifacts, folk art, architecture and handicrafts. They publish their valuable findings from their research onto visual documents of Iran and the world of Islam. Regarding his motivation to collect historical post cards and establishing the Visual Heritage Center of Iran, Oskouie explains, “In 2011 my dear friend and mentor Nasser Fakouhi lent me a French book, The World 100 Years Ago. It was a collection of 365 post cards from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. One of these post cards was from Iran. It showed some nomads from Sistan-Balouchestan. At the bottom of the card there was a caption, ‘Somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Sistan, perhaps Iran.’ The title given this post card was ‘The Birthplace of Humanity.’ I thought to myself that there should be many beautiful post cards from the Ghajar era, so why was this card chosen to represent Iran? I wondered if I was wrong and there really were no post cards from that era. Hence I began a search for Iranian post cards. At the same time I contacted Professor Iraj Afshar who invited me for a meeting. He told me I had chosen a difficult task, adding that old post cards and historic photographs were very expensive. He told me that if I wanted to and was able to, I should do it, but I should do it right. Collecting by itself is useless, and my goal wasn’t just to be a collector, but to do something of cultural importance. He asked that if I succeeded to put my collection into a book and publish it. I was motivated by the things he told me and I made such a book my goal. Soon after I was contacted by the Prince Claus Cultural Center in Holland and informed that I had been chosen as the recipient for the 2010 cultural person of the year monetary award to be used for developing a project concerning Iranian culture. With the monetary prize I received I was able to purchase a large number of historic Iranian post cards and photographs. It also gave me the opportunity to travel and visit libraries around the world to research about historic post cards. On April 2, 2010 Ms. Masoumeh Almasi-Mashak, an expert anthropologist, became my first colleague in this endeavor. Later I was joined by Ms. Rosita Anvari, also an expert in the field of anthropology. Together we began our research. We formed the hub of this new research group into historic Iranian photographs and post cards. Gradually our research group has grown in numbers and the following leading experts in their field have joined us. Ms. Zaynab Alizadeh; archeologist Ms. Mahdokht Abolfathi; documentarian Ms. Akram Karimzadeh; Iranian History Ms. Soheila Shams; photographer Ms. Somayeh Amiri; anthropologist Ms. Mandana Karimi; Cinema history Ms. Leyli Varharam; Ancient languages Ms. Maryam Abassi; anthropologist Ms. Mona Darani; anthropologist Ms. Maryam Kurani-Haghi; historian Ms. Afsaneh Mirzazadeh; human rights Ms. Mahboubeh Shakeri; library studies Ms. Zaynab Sadatian; historian Ms. Mahkameh Abolfathi; archeologist Dr. Babak Ruholamini; Iranian Islamic history Mr. Mohammad Ghafouri; doctoral candidate Iranian history Mr. Ashkan Aminian; historian and genealogist Mr. Siamak Haji Mohammad; doctoral candidate art history Mr. Abass Basiri; doctoral candidate history Dr. Ali Kalirad; Islamic history Dr. Shahram Aminian; physician and historical research Eng. Mohammad Rashed Marandi was with us until his recent passing and is now represented by his daughter Dr. Farinaz Rashed Marandi and her husband Dr. Kazem Taraghi who have all supported our group, both spiritually and financially.

Exhibitions organized by the Visual Heritage Center of Iran[edit]

  • Iran depicted in historic post cards at the Dutch Embassy
  • Iran depicted in historic post cards, The City House of Photographs museum, Feb. 2010
  • Iran women as depicted in historical post cards,The City House of Photographs museum, Sept. 2011
  • Everyday life in Iran as depicted in historic post cards,The City House of Photographs museum, April. 2011
  • The photographs of Antoin Sevruguin,The City House of Photographs museum, Oct. 2013
  • Handicrafts and tradesmen of the Ghajar dynasty as depicted in historic post cards,The City House of Photographs museum, April. 2014

Bibliography[edit]

Following are publications by various publishers working with the Visual Heritage Center of Iran. At present there are some new publications about photographs and post cards awaiting publication.

  • Research

1- The Haj as depicted by historic post cards,A project conceived by Mehrdad Oskouie,Director of Research; Akram Karimzadeh Tehran, Iran A joint publication of Gamon Publishers and the Publications Center of Tabatabai University, 2016

2- The province of Gilan as depicted in historic post cards; A project conceived by Mehrdad Oskouie; Director of Research-Masoumeh Almasi Mashak; Ilia Publications; 2014

3- There must be another photograph: Notes for post cards by Iranian writers for 66 famous world authors; a project conceived by Mehrdad Oskouie; Director of Research- Soheila Shams; Herfe Honarmand Publications; 2013

  • Photography

1- Memories and Views: Portraits of Contemporary Iranian Figures in Art and Culture by Mehrdad Oskouie; Tehran; Yesaveli Publishers; 2011

2- The Seven Climates of Iran; Tehran; Yesaveli Publications; 2009

3- Iran: The land of Compassion, Tehran; Yesaveli Publications; 2007

Narration[edit]

  • Books on Tape "From Today's Residents" selected poetry of Sohrab Sepehri; along with Ali Nazhfar, Novin Talking Book Publishers

Tehran, 2014

  • Books on Tape "Jonathon Livingston Seagull" with music by Mehdi Zareh

Novin Talking Book Publishers, Tehran, 2014

Photography[edit]

Oskouei is also a documentary photographer. He travels throughout Iran giving seminars on this art. He is undoubtedly one of the hardest working artists in this field.

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1st Participating Photographic Society Exhibition. Tehran, 1993
  • Photography Exhibition UNESCO environmental committee,Tehran, 1994
  • 1st 'KLIK' group show

With Mohammad Tehrani, Koroush Shabgard and Babak Forutani, Green Gallery, Tehran, 2001

  • 2nd 'KLIK' group show

With Mohammad Tehrani, Koroush Shabgard and Babak ForoutaniPhoto House of Iran, Tehran, 2001

  • 21st International black and white photography exhibition (FIAP) Amsterdam, 1994
  • 24th International black and white photography exhibition (FIAP) China, 1998
  • Group Photography show in Finland, 1999
  • Group photography exhibit "According to Contemporary Iranian Photographers"

Pardis Mellat Gallery, Tehran, 2013

References[edit]

External links[edit]