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Hamid Naficy Papers open for research

Poster for screening of Nouriddin Zarrinkelk’s films, introduced by Hamid Naficy, 1990.

University Archives is pleased to announce that the Hamid Naficy Papers are now open for research. Naficy has been a member of the Northwestern faculty since 2006, and his collection reflects his extensive professional output in writing and film as well as his collected research materials in paper and audiovisual formats.

Naficy, the Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication in the Radio-Television-Film department, has conducted extensive research on Iranian cinema, Middle and Near Eastern cinema, the history of documentary and ethnographic film, as well as film and other media created by those who are expatriates, exiled, or otherwise living away from their cultural homeland. Naficy coined the term “accented filmmakers” or “accented cinema” to describe this last type of creative work, arguing that artists whose sense of place has been disrupted share certain common underlying viewpoints or traits in creating their art.

Naficy (at left) interviewing French filmmaker Jean Rouch (1976-1977).

There is a wealth of information in the collection relating to political and cultural events in Iran and the Middle Eastern region from the 1970s to the 1990s. Newspapers and radio and television broadcasts dubbed onto audio and videocassettes provide primary documentary information on and U.S. reactions to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the 1990s, and other events.

The audiocassettes also include interviews relating to Grass, a 1925 ethnographic documentary film on the Bakhtiari tribe; conversations with filmmakers, such as Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Atom Egoyan, and Sohrab Shahid Saless; and interviews with Persian-language television producers and hosts.

Cassette of recorded ABC news broadcast: “Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage,” recorded January 17, 1980, day 75 of the hostage crisis.

Along with research, writing, and professional and teaching files, the collection contains files on two long-running festivals Naficy created. UCLA’s Celebration of Iranian Cinema festival debuted in 1990 as “A Decade of Iranian Cinema,” and in 1992, Naficy organized a joint annual film festival with Rice University and the Houston Museum of Contemporary Art, focusing on new films from Iran. Both of these festivals are still running.

Programs for first annual Iranian Cinema festival at UCLA (1990) (left) and 10th annual Iranian Film Festival in Houston (2005) (right).

Posters advertising screening of Naficy’s thesis film, Salamander Syncope (1971).

Hamid Naficy’s work as a producer and director has spanned both educational and experimental genres. The collection includes reel tapes, videotape, and copies of these films on VHS and DVD. Four of these films were screened in 2018 at the Block Museum, including Naficy’s thesis film, Salamander Syncope.

University Archives also holds Naficy’s Iranian Movie Posters Collection, digitized and available via the library’s Images Repository. This collection contains 249 posters, each of which has been digitized and cataloged individually. The posters can be viewed by clicking the link above, searching the Images Repository or the library’s catalog. The posters were the subject of an exhibit at the Block Museum in 2016.

A new documentary on Naficy’s life, Mouth Harp in Minor Key: Hamid Naficy on/in Exiledirected by Maryam Sepehri, will be screened on February 23rd at 1:00 pm at the Block Museum, followed by a Q&A with the director and Naficy.