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dir. Kamran Heidari, 2014
66 min. Iran.
In Farsi with English subtitles.
(Note: depicts animal slaughter briefly in the context of a religious ceremony.)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, APRIL 11 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, APRIL 14 – 5 PM
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24 – 10 PM
Dingomaro is a wind that sweeps Iran from the African coast. It’s also the nickname of musician Hamid Said, adopted proudly to reflect his African heritage. A population of black Iranians live in the south of the country, having arrived both from voluntary immigration and slavery, but they’ve been almost entirely absent in the country’s arthouse films. (The recent HENDI AND HORMOZ, which played the Iranian Film Festival NY in January, is an exception.)
Heidari films Said, in the wake of his hit “Bad Shans” (“Hard Luck” in English), traveling around the province of Hormozan as he organizes a concert celebrating Afro-Iranian roots. This is his most joyful documentary. Sajjad Avarand’s cinematography – three different cameramen, including Heidari himself, shot the film – captures the region’s immense natural beauty without any of the ironic or melancholic undertones of MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS. (The two films’ endings rhyme exactly.) It’s a documentary that Jonathan Demme could have made.
However, it doesn’t focus wholly on music, never playing a song all the way through. As cheerful as it is, it’s not without drama, stemming from tension within families. But that gets defused at a father-son concert mixing hip-hop with older forms of Iranian pop. Racism is never expressed overtly in DINGOMARO, but the invisibility of black Iranian identity bites at Said. It’s the reason why he thinks his heritage needs to be explicitly pointed out and celebrated. When he meets up with his friend and fellow musician Carlos Nejad, Carlos says “our younger generation doesn’t even accept that they have African roots… I don’t even know why insist so much that you’re African.” While music is the main means by which DINGOMARO’s subjects assert their blackness, the film also shows ceremonies of the Zar sect, which mixes Shia Islam and indigenous African traditions in a manner akin to Santeria.