Rouzbeh Rashidi (born in Tehran, 1980) is an Iranian-Irish filmmaker. He has been making films since 2000, at which time he founded the Experimental Film Society in Tehran.
Rashidi has always worked entirely away from mainstream conceptions of filmmaking, striving to escape conventional storytelling stereotypes. Instead, he roots his cinematic style in a poetic interaction of image and sound. He generally eschews scriptwriting, seeing the process of making moving images as exploration rather than illustration. His work is deeply engaged with film history, and primarily concerned with mysticism, philosophy, esotericism, cosmology, phenomenology, and hauntology. The films are wildly experimental and often surrealist, magical realist, and mysterious, and have been associated with the Remodernist movement. They are unified by his oneiric imagination, idiosyncratic working methods, and the dreamlike experience of watching them.
The films are inspired by, and constructed around, images, locations, characters, and immediate situations. He has made bold use of a wide range of moving image devices, including Blackmagic Design cameras, DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, VHS, DV, Super-8, Go-Pro, webcam and mobile phone. In editing, he often combines different sources of imagery and almost always does extensive post-production work on his films’ looks. A skilled photographer, Rashidi has regularly experimented with unusual lenses and filters, even making his own. His feature, Phantom Islands (2018), received much praise for its distinctive blurry-edged look that resulted from using specialist 19th-century lenses with a Blackmagic URSA 4K camera. Rashidi also generally designs the soundscapes that accompany his films. His decision to avoid dialogue in most films is a conscious link to early cinema, which is a frequent point of reference in his work and a reminder of his belief that cinema is always in the process of being invented and reinvented.
Since 2000 he has focused on feature projects, conceiving and producing 11 experimental feature-length films. Early films were entirely self-financed, and recent films are low-budget productions funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.
The full filmography is HERE
Home Sapiens Project (HSP)
In 2011 Rashidi initiated the Homo Sapiens Project, an ongoing series of personal experimental video works. Since its inception HSP has undergone an organic metamorphosis, drastically mutating from cryptic film diaries and oneiric sketches to fully-polished feature films. As a result, the project has created many different experiences for Rashidi as a filmmaker. While HSP is steadily evolving, one thing remains constant: the view to create impressionistic portraits of people and places, imbuing them with an eerie sense of mystery that is perhaps reminiscent of horror and sci-fi cinema. Rashidi has collaborated with a large selection of artists worldwide and has so far completed 201 instalments that vary in duration.
Screenings and international exposure
Films have exhibited worldwide at film festivals, museums, galleries and cultural institutions, including the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, Spectacle Theater in New York, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Canada, Fronteira Film Festival in Brazil, Bogotá Experimental Film Festival in Colombia, Museum of Modern Art in Brazil, Tehran Museum of Modern Art, Sharjah Art Foundation in UAE, Istanbul International Experimental Film Festival, European Film Festival in Romania, Dublin International Film Festival, Cork Film Centre Gallery, Cork Film Festival, Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival in Switzerland, Philippines Film Institute, Irish Film Institute and Cinemateca Nacional del Ecuador and Onion City Experimental Film & Video Festival in the USA.
Films have been screened on every continent except Antarctica.
Details are HERE
- 2020 _ Berlinale Talents (70th Berlin International Film Festival)
- 2018 _ Best feature-length Experimental Film, Istanbul International Experimental Film Festival.
- 2017 _ Festival de Diseño Audivisual Experimental de Valdivia (EFS Award).
- 2009 _ Best short film, 3 SMEDIAS AWARDS.
- 2008 _ Best short film, Cork Youth International Film Festival.
International film festival jury panels
- 2020 _ Berlin Revolution Film Festival (Germany)
- 2018 _ Experimental Film Festival Process (Latvia)
- 2017 _ Bogotá Experimental Film Festival (Colombia)
Rashidi is a recipient of the Film Bursary Award, Film Project Award and Next Generation Artist Award from The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. He has also received awards and supports from Culture Ireland, Dublin City Council, and Temple Bar Gallery and Studios.
- ‘Prodigious cinema.’ Adrian Martin.
- ‘An important new direction in the context of contemporary Irish experimental film.’ Donal Foreman.
- ‘The Iranian-Irish filmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi actually seems to get closer to this fine line between “experimental” and “narrative” than any other filmmaker known to me. And this is no mean feat – it requires great nerve, and good verve. True artists are those who not only envision something particular, but who also go after it with energy and passion… Rashidi is like a 21st century Bresson.’ Bill Mousoulis.
- ‘Rouzbeh Rashidiis a ‘cinemist’, a term borrowed from visionary Spanish experimental filmmaker, theorist and inventor José Val del Omar that combines in one the words ‘cineaste’ and ‘alchemist’. This affinity could be expanded even further if the presence of a spectral, quasi-tactile impression achieved through light pulsation and a ghostly mysticism that is common to the work of both artists were taken into consideration.’ Esperanza Collado.
- ‘Rouzbeh is proving to be forging his own path, making distinctly personal films that grow in ambition, skill and vision from one film to the next.’ Film Panic.
- ‘Rouzbeh Rashidi with Phantom Islands has created another incredible work, that, by redefining the concept of cinema, is set to become an unmovable point of the contemporary and future avant-garde. Rashidi proves himself to be one of the best avant-garde filmmakers of recent times.’ Cinepensieri.
- ‘What continues to surprise me the most is the productivity, the effectiveness and the variety of the cinema of Rashidi especially in an impervious terrain like that of the modern experimental cinema. Phantom Islands is already one of the best movies of the year.’ Cinemadermister.
- ‘It might reasonably have been thought impossible that a film would ever be made that could be described as an “underground epic” without any hint of irony. Yet Trailers is that film.’ Irish Examiner.
- ‘Director Rouzbeh Rashidi is a man well-versed in the styles and structures of classic experimental and surrealist film, and it shows.’ Victoria Film Festival.
- ‘What’s most astonishing about Phantom Islands are its dreamy visuals and ingenious music score, as well as the pitch-perfect sound design that more than compensate for the lack of dialogue. Virtually each shot is exquisitely composed, each tone being a worthy accompaniment. A masterwork of the (re)modern avant-garde.’ Nikola Gocić.
- ‘Rouzbeh Rashidi is the prototype of (true) filmmaker of the future.’ Post Tenebras Cinema.
More reviews can be found HERE
His work has been the subject of much academic research, including the Remodernist film movement’s first comprehensive history by Florian Maricourt at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, under the research direction of Nicole Brenez, a professor of cinema studies at the Sorbonne and curator of the avant-garde film series at the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. Read it HERE (in French).
Experimental Film Society (EFS)
‘… The most active, prolific and intrepid group of experimental filmmakers working in Ireland’.
EFS was founded in 2000 in Tehran, Iran, by Rouzbeh Rashidi and has been based in Dublin since 2004. It has produced, co-produced, or otherwise assisted in making over fifty no-budget or very low-budget feature-length films and 500 short films. In 2011, EFS began to organise screenings, performances, and talks, an initiative that has since resulted in over one hundred events worldwide.
EFS concentrates on nurturing film projects which reflect the distinctive cinematic vision that it developed over its eighteen-year existence as a not-for-profit collective. EFS produces films that are distinguished by an uncompromising devotion to personal, experimental cinema, and is at the centre of a new wave of Irish experimental filmmaking.
EFS also curates screenings of experimental film, mainly by filmmakers and artists associated with it, both nationally and internationally. In mid-2017, EFS became a company limited by guarantee to facilitate the increasingly ambitious and professionally funded projects it now focuses on. Rashidi archives and produces EFS films and arranging, programming, and presents screenings of this constantly-growing body of work. He also manages all EFS online video hosting, including ‘EFS Video on Demand’, where a selection of short, medium, and feature-length films are available for streaming and download.
Rashidi has co-edited, contributed to and published two books, ‘Luminous Void: Twenty Years of Experimental Film Society’ and ‘Luminous Void: Experimental Film Society Documents’. With contributions by critics, curators, filmmakers, and artists worldwide, they provide a guidebook to the imposingly vast ‘luminous void’ of Experimental Film Society cinema and filmmaking. He is the founding editor of EFS Publications, an online journal edited and published by the Experimental Film Society: efspublications.com.
Read the EFS statement HERE.
- CV and references are available upon request.
- He is available for commissions, consultancy and inquiries worldwide.
- For the long biography, please see this page HERE (coming soon).