TCS x EFS Cinematic Synesthesia

Twelve Experimental Films by Iranian and International Filmmakers: Q&A with the Filmmakers, hosted by Rouzbeh Rashidi.

Curated by the Experimental Film Society.

Films by Yasaman Pishvaei, Nazgol Kashani, Johnny Clyde, Wasim Ghrioui, Anahita Safarnejad, Atoosa Pour Hosseini.

Cinematic Synesthesia is a curated series of screenings resulting from the collaboration
between Tehran Contemporary Sounds (TCS) and the Experimental Film Society (EFS).
In late 2021, I decided to completely transform and redefine the identity of EFS by relocating
to Berlin and embarking on the next phase of my filmmaking practice and the future of EFS.
Over two decades, I have cultivated a unique mindset and collaborative process to foster the
creation and distribution of experimental cinema. However, this era has naturally reached its
conclusion, and it was necessary to develop a revitalized strategy to reimagine EFS.
The idea of the eternal return—the prospect of having to live one’s life over and over, every
detail repeated, every pain alongside every joy—becomes all the more potent when one
thinks about having to relive that life to its terrible end. As my work progresses, I am placing
greater emphasis on the notion of cinema as an ‘archaeology’. However, this does not refer
to what has already occurred but rather to the expression of the current state as it shapes
the future. I am actively developing, enhancing, and refining this concept, aiming to expand
its capabilities and widen its scope while preserving its fundamental ties to the archaeology
of the past. I have always been fascinated by films as if they were fossils, artefacts, and
ancient ruins.
The films in this series showcase the outstanding work of filmmakers and artists who have
been my students, new friends, and collaborators. Additionally, I have had the opportunity
to revisit colleagues’ films at EFS with a fresh perspective. These films are formally
challenging and emotionally resonant, presenting a unique blend of talent and creativity. In
a captivating interview, Godard once revealed his introspective nature, saying, “I’m very
solitary, that’s all— I can’t dismiss it. Inside, I’m very much in communication with a lot of
people and things who absolutely don’t know I’m in communication with them.” This quote
resonates deeply with me and greatly influences my approach to life, work, and curating film
programmes such as these.
The enigmatic production of these films brings front and centre various vibes and nuances,
making it a transcendental experience. By diving into unbound territories within the visual
genre with lyrical techniques comprised of audible harmonies and imaginatively alluring
sights, the production works towards blurring out the differing lines between almost
everything, venturing into the purgatory of Somnium – a place that encases us all with
nothing but art as a catastrophe. We see us, you and me. – Rouzbeh Rashidi

October 10, 2023
Total duration: 69 Mins

A handpicked selection of short films by artist-filmmakers from Iran and across the globe, delivering a captivating exploration of their diasporic experiences.

1_Fool’s Errand (2023) By Nazgol Kashani, 4 Mins, Iran/Germany

Fool´s Errand is a captivating audiovisual experience that delves into the unsettling realm of domestic psychedelic paranoia. Drawing upon the hidden space between insomnia and slumber, Kashani´s evocative imagery and Shervin Saremi´s haunting soundscape skillfully enhance the hallucinatory journey.

2_Fugitive Rhythms of Uprising (2023) By Yasaman Pishvaei, 10 Mins, Iran/Germany

Fugitive Rhythms of Uprising is an ongoing arts-based research project investigating the sensory and instinctual experience of the body in protest, free from the sociopolitical context that often shapes our perception of it. It attempts to transcend the limitations of representation and engage with the raw and ambiguous experiences of our own and other bodies, providing space for felt exploration and connection.

3_Hate Being Alone (2023) By Johnny Clyde, 5 mins, Germany

Hate Being Alone embodies how cinema can literally and mentally function as an incubus-like ethereal entity. Clyde´s short and yet never-ending macabre film is a personal testament to alienation.

4_Prayer Cover (2023) By Wasim Ghrioui, 7 mins, Syria/Germany

On two different mornings, two strangers enter an old Damascus house carrying sharp tools. A tradition thousands of years old is about to be executed. A little boy is holding his mother´s hand while watching.

5_Zurvan, Diary of a Divided Self (2023) By Nazgol Kashani, 20 mins, Iran

In 2007, Morad, a farmer and son of a former feudal lord in central Iran, received a camera for his 50th birthday. This film is a selection of images captured exclusively by Morad between 2007 and 2009. This is a diary of a divided self.

6_Liminal Space – Diving Within (2022) By Anahita Safarnejad, 22 mins, Iran/Germany

Liminal Space – Diving Within is a poetic exploration of a father and daughter relationship. Anahita grows up in front of her father´s camera. A dreamy life fulfilled with love and poetry evolves into a nightmare in which she witnesses her identity becoming lost as her father dies of cancer. In her quest to understand death, she dives into a rollercoaster ride of unknown emotions and embarks on a voyage of acceptance. From death into an immortal world.

Note: The majority of the filmmakers featured in this programme will be in attendance and will actively engage in a Q&A session hosted by Rouzbeh Rashidi. This is a unique opportunity to interact with these talented individuals and gain valuable insights into their work.

October 11, 2023
Total duration: 70Min

An exquisite assortment of short films, meticulously crafted and captured in celluloid format by Iranian filmmaker Atoosa Pour Hosseini of the Experimental Film Society.

1_Mirage (2015), 4 mins, Iran / Ireland

Mirage evokes a desert landscape, but the cinematic image itself is the Mirage. Working with the material textures of Super-8 film, Mirage presents two visual planes: the captured image and the surface of the film strip itself. The relationship between these is as much one of conflict as mutual support.

2_Gleanings (2017), 8 mins, Ireland & Switzerland

Super-8 memories emerge and vanish into the imageless texture of scratched celluloid, an object at once very present and channelling long absent moments of ambiguity. A soldier allows a little girl to handle a gun, a machine like the camera that links a calm present with war and death. But who is watching this film? Whose footsteps are pacing? Who is invading and appropriating these memories?

3_Refining the Senses (2027), 12 mins, Switzerland, Iran & Ireland

The artist sits spinning wool at a site of memory as image and reminiscence fluctuate between the personal and the general, the pictorial and the material. Bodies wander, landscapes echo each other, and time is unwound through a carefully wrought approach to 8mm celluloid. The senses are refined between the persistence and fragility of the moving image.

4_Antler (2018), 15 mins, Ireland

Atoosa Pour Hosseini´s work with Super-8 conjures a mysterious territory between memory, subjective perception and the objective materiality of the filmed image. Antler pushes deeper into this realm, seamlessly combining archival footage of animals and reptiles in their habitats with newly filmed material of the artist and an assistant at work in a botanical garden. Inspired by the famous Voynich Manuscript, a 15th-century book written in an unknown language and featuring detailed drawings of plants that do not exist, Antler transforms a botanical garden Greenhouse into a laboratory of perception and a film set. Nature sampled and presented for study in this setting is equated with natural phenomena framed and captured on film. But rather than taming or normalizing nature, these study aids function as cues to oneiric immersion in a vivid but utterly elusive world. The sensuous, painterly quality of Pour Hosseini´s visual style results in a hauntingly introspective, out-of-time atmosphere heightened by Karen Power´s unsettling soundtrack.

5_Kinetics (2018), 11 mins, Ireland

The masked female figures that wander adrift through Pour Hosseini´s intensely lyrical explorations of displacement find their most energetic form in the bird-woman at the centre of Kinetics. Shot in saturated 16mm colour, this dreamlike film follows a primaeval female figure exploring an ancient landscape poised over an endlessly blue sea. She is at once alienated from and engaged by her surroundings, which suggest a site of self-discovery as much as one of profound disorientation.

6_The Golden Mask (2020), 20 mins, Ireland, Germany, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina

Atoosa Pour Hosseini´s The Golden Mask draws on one of civilization´s most ancient and potent objects, the mask, to explore psychic and territorial displacement. Magisterial yet marginal masked figures haunt edgeland spaces like refugees from a mysterious cataclysm. The eruptions of unsettling bursts of found footage and gloriously decaying images of ruins set these beings adrift in time and space. Ultimately, only the mask remains, golden and unchanging amidst the desolation of history.

Note: Atoosa Pour Hosseini will be joining a Zoom video call for a question and answer session, moderated by Rouzbeh Rashidi.


Nazgol Kashani is an Iranian-American filmmaker born in Tehran in 1986. She studied Cultural Policy in Paris and London and later worked as an art curator and cultural journalist for web and TV broadcasts. Kashani obtained her MFA in Filmmaking at Ohio University in 2019. Since then, she has made varied documentaries and narrative short films, which have been screened at various international film festivals.

Yasaman (Yassi) Pishvaei is an Iranian multimedia artist, Expressive Arts facilitator, and researcher currently based in Potsdam, Germany. Her artistic practice revolves around embracing the enigmatic qualities of art to foster deeper personal and interpersonal understanding, connection, and hybridization. Yassi utilizes Expressive Arts and Interpersonal Neurobiology frameworks to explore human experience and designs/facilitates arts-based research processes, workshops, and interventions.

Johnny Clyde is a Purépecha/Mexican filmmaker currently based in Berlin, Germany. He has produced many films himself, working in every field of filmmaking, from pre-production to post-production. His work ranges from narrative to documentary and music videos. In addition to his productions, he has collaborated with many creatives in various positions, including composer, animator, and director. His work has been featured in festivals and events around the globe.

Wasim Ghrioui (1981 Damascus, Syria) is a multidisciplinary artist in visual art, writing, music, directing and filmmaking. Between 1998 – 2011 he worked full-time with mosaic art and participated in group and solo exhibitions in Syria, the Arab world and internationally. As of 2020, he studies conceptual art and photography at Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). His current artistic emphasis lies on autobiographical writing, embodied through experimental theatre and filmmaking. Ghrioui has lived, studied and worked in Berlin since2013.

Anahita Safarnejad (1991), a filmmaker, poet and freedom fighter based in Berlin, hails from the bustling streets of Tehran, Iran, with a heart burning for a world without borders. A fascination with the avant-garde and experimental cinema fuels her creative fire and keeps the rebel in her alive. At 14, she began her artistic journey at Sooreh Art School, where she finished her school diploma in 2008 with two short films. She then studied Film Directing at Sooreh Art University, graduating in 2014 – with an animated documentary and 100-second film. At the end of her bachelor´s degree (2014), She got to know Babelsberg Film University as part of an exchange program, where she pursued a BA in Production from 2016 to 2022—produced three films, one of them being her graduation film Liminal Space (which she also directed), awarded with the graduate prize in February 2023.

Atoosa Pour Hosseini (Tehran, Iran 1981) is an artist-filmmaker based in Dublin, Ireland. Her work, influenced by historical avant-garde cinema, explores questions about illusion, reality, and perception through film, video, installation and performance art. She works with the material textures of 8mm film and digital processes to explore layers of space and time, superimposing imagery and creating entrancing patterns of repetition with startling interruptions. Her works have been shown in many galleries, museums, festivals, and showcases worldwide.

Rouzbeh Rashidi (born in Tehran in 1980) is an Iranian-Irish filmmaker. He has been making films since 2000, when he founded the Experimental Film Society in Tehran.

The Experimental Film Society (EFS) is a company specializing in creating and showcasing experimental cinema. Founded and directed by Rouzbeh Rashidi, the company emerged from the former Experimental Film Society collective. EFS focuses on cultivating film projects that embody its unique cinematic perspective, which has been honed over many years as a non-profit collective. EFS has played a significant role in the creation and support of numerous no-budget or low-budget feature-length films, as well as a large number of short films. In addition, EFS is known for curating experimental film screenings, showcasing the work of filmmakers and artists closely connected to the organization both nationally and internationally. As part of their efforts, EFS has started organizing The Luminous Void Experimental Film Festival, along with performances and talks, which has led to a multitude of events taking place worldwide.

Founded in 2000 by Rouzbeh Rashidi, EFS initially operated in Tehran, Iran, before relocating to Europe in 2004. In order to accommodate its growing portfolio of ambitious and professionally funded projects, as well as its EFS Film School, EFS transitioned into a company limited by guarantee (Ireland) in 2017.

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This program is kindly funded by the Goethe Institut & Goethe-Institut im Exil

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