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My Name is Negahdar Jamali and I Make Westerns

Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 5:00 PM

$5 - $10
Online tickets not available

Sunday, April 7 - April 27

My Name is Negahdar Jamali and I Make Westerns

124 S 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, USA

$5 - $10
Online tickets not available
dir. Kamran Heidari, 2012
65 minutes. Iran.
In Farsi with English subtitles.


Paraphrasing a famous John Ford quote, this film profiles Negahdar Jamali, a director who lives in Shiraz and makes micro-budget Westerns in the desert outside the city. Having started out with silent Super-8 footage, living in poverty and spending all his spare money on this work, Jamali dreams of being accepted by his country’s film industry and being able to work on a much larger scale. However, the kind of movies he makes are too influenced by American culture, even if he has made sure that his Tarzan conforms to Islamic standards of modesty instead of appearing nude. Producers would prefer that he made actions films about the Iran/Iraq war, instead of setting films in Death Valley a century ago.

MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS falls into a tradition of reflexive Iranian movies about filmmaking and directors that includes Abbas Kiarostami’s CLOSE-UP and THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES, Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s SALAAM CINEMA, and A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE, Jafar Panahi’s THE MIRROR and most recently, Mani Haghighi’s PIG. It departs from them in that there’s very little roleplay on Heidari’s part here; the film presents itself as a Western of sorts while always remaining a documentary. MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS remains upbeat, even celebratory, for its first two thirds, as Jamali buys costumes for his films and talks about his plans to the camera. Then, life intrudes.

Ultimately, MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS strikes a more ambivalent tone than one would initially expect. Jamali has made a choice between art and his family, and he’s not very kind to his wife and son as a result. Indeed, his son calls Heidari a “fag” and “asshole,” apparently because this documentary’s project has taken so much time away from his father. In the film’s final stretch, Jamali provides pleasure to his community (he holds both rehearsals and screenings in the open air) but winds up as lonely and isolated as many heroes in American Westerns. MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS ends with an extreme long shot of Jamali riding alone on desert roads, to the tune of Ennio Morricone.

“His {Jamahli’s} minimalism and no-budget, semi- experimental films, like a crossover between the poorest of B westerns and Jack Smith, stands out as ultra primitive drafts of {Budd} Boetticher’s westerns, and, on the other hand, his individualism puts him is the same category as Randolph Scott’s laconic avengers.” – Ehsan Khoshbakht

Part of WIND FROM IRAN: Four by Kamran Heidari

So far, Iranian director Kamran Heidari’s 2012 documentary MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS is his only film to receive any exposure in the States, and even that has been fairly limited. Hopefully, this series, which presents the New York premiere of his 2014 documentary DINGOMARO and world premiere of his latest, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, can help remedy that. Born in 1977 near the city of Shiraz, Heidari began directing films after graduating from college. Parallel to that work, he has built up a substantial body of work as a photographer. The four films included in this series insist on the specificity of Shiraz and the south of Iran. At the same time, they exist in a dialogue that acknowledges national boundaries as well as the power of culture to bypass narrow nationalism. NEGAHDAR JAMALI engages in a complex feedback loop between American and Iranian cinema, while DINGOMARO and, to a lesser extent, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS show how the power of the African diaspora’s music extends to Iran.

Programmed in collaboration with Steve Erickson. Special thanks to Garineh Nazarian, Maaa Film and Mehdi Omidvari.
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