Short Film Night: Faraz Ansari (Sisak, Sheer Qorma) and Mehrdad Hasani (The Adjustment)
Wednesday, November 29 at 7PM at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium
Presented by Artistic Freedom Initiative; Part of Beautiful Forms: Queer Art Unbound
Join Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI) for the final event of the Beautiful Forms: Queer Art Unbound festival: Short Film Night, featuring the work of two internationally acclaimed filmmakers, Faraz Ansari and Mehrdad Hasani, on Wednesday, November 29 at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium. Ansari and Hasani demonstrate how queer film narratives disrupt dangerous norms and uplift those that venerate free expression. Three groundbreaking short films by Ansari and Hasani explore the intersection of LGBTQIAP+ identities and cultural and religious paradigms. The event also includes a filmmaker Q&A moderated by activist and artist Beyza BK (Upwardly Global, Wicked Queer: the Boston’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival).
Beautiful Forms: Queer Art Unbound honors the many diverse and beautiful forms queer identities, art, and allyship can take. Further, this festival acknowledges that queer artists from countries or communities where sexuality, gender identity, and artistic freedom are restricted face heightened levels of persecution, censorship, and forced displacement. Finally, Beautiful Forms champions the rights to create, move, live, and love freely – unbound and without fear.
Short Film Night is the concluding event (following earlier performances from Bia Ferreira and Lama El Homaïssi) of this multidisciplinary, multi-day arts festival presented by AFI. Beautiful Forms centers intersectionality, LGBTQIAP+ identities, and allyship, featuring cutting edge artists like Ferreira, (Brazil), Homaïssi (Lebanon), Ansari (India), and Hasani (Iran). Wielding the power of performance and storytelling, Bia, Lama, Faraz, and Mehrdad demonstrate how queer musical, theatrical, and film narratives disrupt dangerous norms and uplift those that venerate free expression.
AFI is an organization unwavering in its commitment to promote freedom of artistic expression. To that end, they provide pro bono immigration representation and resettlement assistance to persecuted and censored artists.
Short Film Night: Faraz Ansari (Sisak, Sheer Qorma) and Mehrdad Hasani (The Adjustment) at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium
Part of Beautiful Forms: Queer Art Unbound
Sisak (2017) is India’s “first silent queer love story.” By turns beautiful and heart-wrenching, this exquisite short film follows two young men who regularly take the same local train home. As the winner of 59 international awards, Sisak has screened at film festivals including Cannes, Wicked Queer in Boston, and FilmOut San Diego Film Festival. Sisak received a nomination for the Iris Prize, an acclaimed international LGBTQIAP+ short film prize.
Duration: 16 minutes
Sheer Qorma (2021) is a LGBTQIAP+ romantic drama that centers Queer muslim women and nonbinary characters, exploring the meaning of belonging, identity, and family. Visually stunning and substantively rich, this powerful film shows us how a group of people choose to embrace love, despite differences in their cultural and personal beliefs. Sheer Qorma won the Best Short Film Audience Award at San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival and qualified for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards in 2021. Since its release, Sheer Qorma has won 89 international awards.
Duration: 30 minutes
The Adjustment (2022) follows Shahrokh, a nine year-old living in a small rural village in Iran. Despite being bullied and alienated by friends and family, Shahrokh makes a courageous decision to embrace his identity. Beautifully shot and intensely moving, The Adjustment won the Grand Prix at the 2022 Busan International Short Film Festival (Oscar Qualified) and the Embrace Award at the 2022 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (Oscar Qualified). The Adjustment has received 40 official film festival selections and 7 international awards.
Duration: 17 minutes
Faraz Arif Ansari is a queer and non-binary internationally acclaimed, award-winning filmmaker from India. Faraz started their film career as a co-writer with Amole Gupte (Writer & Creative Director of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ / Stars on Earth). Faraz was the Associate Director, Casting Director, and Executive Producer on Fox Star’s ‘Stanley Ka Dabba.’ They also directed and choreographed a concert featuring 500 children for ‘Stanley Ka Dabba,’ which was a prominent song in the film. Faraz has been the Associate Director on many TVCs directed by Amole Gupte for major brands like Nestle, Cadbury’s, and more.
Sisak, India’s first silent LGBTQ+ love story directed, written, and produced by Faraz, is the first Indian film to have won 60 international awards. As a LGBTQ+ film representing queer voices, Sisak serves as a major milestone for Indian cinema. Faraz’s new film, Sheer Qorma, is a story of love and acceptance told through people of color, queer, Muslim women, and non-binary people. Sheer Qorma has won 96 international awards and has participated at BAFTA and Academy Awards qualifying film festivals. In all, Sheer Qorma has screened at 300 film festivals. Currently, Faraz is currently working on their first feature film, Bun Tikki. When not working behind the camera, Faraz conducts cinema and theatre lessons for underprivileged children throughout Mumbai where they teach students how to write screenplays and direct their own short films.
Mehrdad Hasani is a writer, director, sculptor, and photographer from Rafsanjan, Iran. As a teenager, he began his artistic career by acting in school theater groups. In his youth, he also became interested in sculpture and held a large, well-received exhibition of his works in the city of Kerman. Mehrdad also enrolled in photography and filmmaking classes of the Iranian Youth Cinema Society. There, he produced short fiction films and participated in feature filmmaking as a director’s consultant and costume and scenic designer. Mehrdad successfully completed directing courses taught by Mr. Asghar Farhadi and acting courses taught by Mr. Hamid Samandarian. Mehrdad is a graduate of Sooreh University of Tehran, holding a Bachelor of Art Studies.
According to Mehrdad, “drawing political borders and favoring an ethnic group over others based on their place of birth are equally as absurd and immoral as drawing a line between people on the basis of their gender and sexuality.” Mehrdad’s film, The Adjustment, which explores themes of identity, intersectionality, and oppression, constitutes a vivid reflection of his outlook on the world. Mehrdad has thus far made five fiction short films, which have received more than 85 appearances and 25 international awards.
About Artistic Freedom Initiative
Dedicated to safeguarding the right to artistic freedom, Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI) was founded on the notion that artists are uniquely situated to positively and powerfully effect change, provided their voices can be heard. Led by immigration and human rights attorneys, AFI facilitates pro bono immigration representation and resettlement assistance for international artists who have been persecuted or censored. Since 2017, AFI has provided $4+ million in pro bono legal and resettlement assistance and taken on over 1200 at-risk artist cases. The artists in AFI’s network come from 60+ countries and work across 40 creative disciplines. As the only nonprofit in the world dedicated to providing pro bono legal and resettlement services for at-risk artists, our work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, NBC, Gagosian, and New York Magazine.
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