Bahman Ghobadi was born in 1969 in Baneh, a city near the Iran-Iraq border in the province of Iranian Kurdistan. When he was 12, civil disputes forced his entire family to immigrate to the provincial capital of Sanandaj. Ghobadi studied industrial photography and film directing at the Iranian Broadcasting College, but he honed his filmmaking skills shooting short documentaries on 8mm film as he traveled and collected stories among the Kurdish people. By the mid-1990s, Ghobadi’s short films had begun to receive recognition in Iran and abroad. His short film Life in Fog—the true story of a 14-year-old boy who provides for his siblings after the death of their parents on the Iran/Iraq border—was a landmark in Iranian documentary cinema and formed the basis for his full-length narrative feature A Time for Drunken Horses (1999). The first Kurdish feature film in the history of Iranian cinema, Drunken Horses brought Ghobadi recognition as the country’s foremost Kurdish director. Ghobadi’s dramatic and documentary films explore the resilience and culture of the Kurdish people who live in the border areas of Iran and Iraq. Filled with scenes of beautiful yet extreme and harsh landscapes, the films tell poetic stories of people facing life and hardship with courage and joy.
Flaherty at MoMA: The Films of Bahman Ghobadi takes place on the occasion of the 54th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, “The Age of Migration.” The annual Flaherty Seminar focuses on the art of nonfiction film, and each year MoMA presents a selection of the titles discussed. All films written and directed by Ghobadi, made in Iran, and in Farsi with English subtitles.
Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film. Special thanks to Chi-hui Yang, Director, San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and programmer of “The Age of Migration,” and Mary Kerr, Director, The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar.