Shahin Parhami is an award-winning filmmaker based in Montreal, Canada. Born in Shiraz, Iran in 1967, Parhami immigrated to Canada in 1988, where he studied film first at Carleton University in Ottawa, later earning his B.F.A in Film Production from Concordia University in Montreal. As an independent artist, he has carved out a niche in the world of creative documentary, constructing lyrical visual images on screen while challenging mainstream imaginaries about Iranian society and diasporic communities.

Throughout his career, Parhami has pushed the boundaries of cinematic language, starting from the early trilogy, Nasoot(1997), Lahoot (1998), and Jabaroot (2003), to his latest endeavour, Marcel (2021). Film scholar Peter Rist (2011) has noted Parhami's formalist innovations and "the challenging, experimental approach to film form that he consistently adopts,"  while  Donato Torato (216) observes that Parhami's style underscores "a poetic treatment of history and the loss associated with the past, whether through the artist [...] or urban or geographical spaces. [...] Whatever the subject or theme Parhami's films are always infused with the tender sensibility of a poet-artist in search of imagery and sounds that capture the frailty, courage and strength of the human soul". 

Parhami's critically acclaimed films have been selected for screenings at universities, galleries, and prominent international venues, including Busan International Film Festival, Thessaloniki, Moscow International Film Festival, Hot Docs, Montreal World Film Festival, Diaspora Film Festival, Montreal New Cinema, the Ji-hlava International Documentary Film Festival, and the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival. His body of work spans full-length documentaries and experimental shorts--with Amnesia (2002Raga Malkauns (2004), and Shiraz 1340 (2009) among them--alongside his fiction feature debut, Every Angel is Terrifying (slated for a 2021 release). A versatile director and "one-man studio," Parhami is also responsible for the cinematography, writing, editing, and sound design for most of his projects. 

Parhami specializes in ekphrastic films that highlight the work of artists engaged in mediums like music, acting, sculpture, painting, choreography, and literature. Shahrzaad's Tale (2015), about an iconic star of popular Iranian cinema, and AMIN (2010), which chronicles the efforts of a Qashqai violinist to preserve his community's musical traditions, were both nominated for Best Feature Documentary at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, or the "Asian Oscars." AMIN also won the Award of Excellence at Yamagata International Documentary Festival, the Asian Vision Award from the Taiwan Film Festival, and the Special Distinction Award at the Dubai Film Festival. Parhami's FACES (2007) focuses on ten accomplished Iranian Canadian artists and received the Best Feature Film award at fiEXiff (2007) in Sydney, Australia. A new film, Marcel, centers the art and life of a major Canadian sculptor; currently in post-production, it is set for release in 2021 (CTV news). 

Film scholars and critics have received Parhami's work favourably. Variety praised AMIN as "a beautifully crafted portrait" and Maggie Haberman of the Hollywood Reporter characterized it as a "heartfelt documentary"; it was also covered by the Mehr News Agency. Sister-Hood magazine lauded Shahrzaad's Tale for its "lyrical portrait of a women whose history provides a personal counterpoint to that of her country" and revealing "the director's tenderness in addressing the vulnerability" of his subjects. The Ji.hlava film festival comments that "Parhami’s film is not a typical documentary portrait, but a moving meditative work in which the filmmaker is open about his interventions in the film and in which he makes room for a group of young female protagonists to hold their own interviews with the famous artist." Setrag Manoukian elaborates how "[t]he elements that make up the film are not assembled together to tell a story: they are composed to show a power I would call poetic: they do so not via morality or judgement, but via the concatenation of images, sound, and words themselves." On Jabaroot, David McIntosh remarks that Parhami "constructed an equally poetic and eloquent visual documentation [...] full of intimate perceptions and abstract meditative connections between here and there, past and present."

Parhami has given talks on his creative projects and representations of Iran on the screen at universities and film festivals around the world, and also teaches workshops on experimental cinema. Additionally, he has authored an influential article on pre-Revolutionary Iranian film, (published in both Offscreen and the volume Early Cinema in Asia) and interviewed the renowned director Abbas Kiarostami for Synoptique (see references). Parhami has been invited to serve on the juries for festivals like Moscow International Film Festival, Montreal Underground Film Festival, and the Ottawa Documentary Film Festival, and is a member of the prestigious Asia Pacific Screen Academy as well. 

In addition to filmmaking, Parhami's talents extend to photography, poetry, drawing and painting, and composing music. He has stated that cinema is the perfect metier for him since it allows him to combine all his creative interests (Totaro and Hanley 2016). Parhami has collaborated with other artists as a cinematographer, editor, and sound designer, and mentored many young filmmakers on the art of directing. 


CTV News, "Friendship between Holocaust survivor, Iranian filmmaker revealed in documentary," September 17, 2017.

Interview on Kult Kino (Russian TV)

Arakaki Maki and Koshimizu Emi, "Amin: An Interview with Shahin Parhami," YIDFF.jp, October 9, 2011

Ji-hlava International Documentary Film Festival, "Shahrzaad's Tale," 2020. 

Mehr News Agency, "Qashqai musician biopic warmly received at Moscow festival," mehrnews.com, June 28, 2011. 



FullSizeRender 8