Celluloid Underground

classified 12A

Reframing Film


Fri 26 July 14:15

Cinema 3, Watershed

Ehsan Khoshbakht
Ahmad Jorghanian, Ehsan Khoshbakht, Nariman Massoumi, Jonah Sellers
80 mins, 2023, UK, Iran
Primary language

Growing up in post-Revolutionary Iran, when many films were banned or heavily censored, Ehsan Khoshbakht became a cinephile. He was aided in this by Ahmad Jurghanian, a friend and mentor who obsessively collected and preserved 35mm film in Tehran, in spite of the threat of imprisonment or torture.

Many of the reels were preserved in Jurghanian’s cramped apartment, sourced from junk shops or on the black market. Others were hidden elsewhere. The reels included Hollywood and Western fare, but also now increasingly rare pre-Revolutionary Iranian cinema. Now living in London, Khoshbakht hears of the death of Ahmad, and so reflects on the very nature of cinema and cinephilia in the context of an oppressive, totalitarian regime.

Celluloid Underground is an excavation of cinephilia, activism, archival practices and film history, as much of a personal essay as it is an account of a little-known world of film. Khoshbakht (a co-director of Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna) is an evocative, melancholic presence, taking us through the journey of his own life as a cinephile, a fine follow-up to his previous work, Filmfarsi (2019).

This screening will be introduced by director Ehsan Khoshbakht and followed by a discussion with Bristol-based film director Nariman Massoumi.

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