About

Mania Akbari collaborates with British sculptor Douglas White to coin a tender fusion of langauge, where a meeting of cinema and sculpture investigates the processes of physical and psychological destruction and renewal. Begun a matter of weeks after first meeting, the film charts a deepening artistic and personal relationship exploring the nature of skin, family, death, water, desire and, throughout, a powerful will to form. Akbari looks into the connection between her body and the political history of Iran, investigating the relationship between her own physical traumas and the collective political memory of her birthplace. As she undergoes surgeries on a body decimated by cancer, remembrance and reconstruction provide a framework for investigating how bodies are traumatised, censored and politicized, and yet ultimately remain a site of possibility.

A Moon For My Father. I have started working on a new film-letter, following the corresponding format of Life May Be. This one is being made in collaboration and co-direction with British artist Douglas White. When I saw Douglas White’s sculptures for the first time, they brought back strong memories from my past. I felt the sculptures were story-tellers and contained certain historic and narrative elements that awakened a hidden feeling in me, a flowing one which immediately linked my body and soul in London to a past memory in Tehran. This was a case of art connecting two geographies and two cultures through the means of shared memory.

I have recently visited Marlene Dumas’s Exhibition, which is currently on display at Tate Modern. This text was written on one of the walls of her exhibition.My fatherland is south Africa. My mother tongue is Afrikaans. My surname is french.
My mother always wanted me to go to paris. She thought art was french. Because of Picasso. I thought art was American. Because of art forum. I thought Mondrian was American too. And the Belgium was a part of Holland. I live in Amsterdam.
And have a Dutch passport. Sometimes i think i am not a real artist. Because i am too half- hearted. And I never quite know where I am. By mixing two portraits on a paper and creating a hole instead of eyes and the mouth of those faces, she ended up creating a new mysterious portrait. This collection reminded me of how it’s possible that two people from two different cultures and languages could possibly create a new, mysterious and thought provoking face.

Today the discussion of cultural encounters between the artists and creation of a new art work is an unavoidable subject. And…How the affiliation and encounter of two different human beings from two different cultural background, two different languages, two different set of memories, two history and geographical setting, can reach to a common language called art.How it could create or produce beauty and art from pain, suffering and aggression. How one’s mental structure “Brain Architect”?that holds all the childhood memories and the geographical borders that gave it depth and perspective could associate with the memories and constructions of another geographical space.In my recent experiences, after immigration I became fascinated and obsessed with this dialoged between two languages of two geographical borders, two architecture and two memory settings, to explore and reveal the mysteries and concepts which are beyond geographical borders of countries and languages. And that is the language of form and concept, which creates art.

I first had this experience with Mark Cousins, Irish Documentaries and filmmaker and then continued to have this experience with Douglas White. In Douglas’s work, the most fascinating thing for me was that how an object potentially could relink the deepest lost or forgotten stories of one’s mind and find the traces of pain. And then you tend to care for those pains with tenderness and transform them to beauty and give it a meaning that is beyond human’s pain and suffering… the meaning of life…Then you tend to create beauty and sheerness out of aggression or violence and ….. Life out of death….In this journey, I searched for the commonalities and differences of the structure of spaces and forms. I tried to explore how an object or Sculpture that has been created by an English Artist could create a poetic sound in me, while coming from a different land.
Enabling me to look at my pains as a human being, and to give me a new perspective about the memories that has been carved on my body as a woman…and to give a new meaning to the objects and forms of my mind…Sometimes being away from the forms, pieces and architectures of the cities that beholds one’s memory creates a new feeling. Which could transform pain to beauty, in dialogue with an artist or an artwork.

Maybe this is the enigmatic nature of Art that we are not fully aware of it…. and maybe it’s the desire to reach completeness and perfection through art, which takes it beyond borders, countries and differences of languages and geography.

’A Moon for my Father’, begun in 2014 by sculptor Douglas White and film maker and actress Mania Akbari, is an on-going collaborative project structured as an exchange of film letters between the two.For the Islands exhibition White presents a sculpture by the same name, made in direct response to the loss of his father, alongside one of their film letters: ’Enracine’. Here Akbari follows White into the French forest where he is realising a sculptural project from which the film takes its title. We find the artist digging through the earth to expose an intricate network of tree roots laying just beneath the forest floor. This physical inter-vention into the landscape serves as the metaphorical framework for a con-versation which weaves its way through their lives, exploring how personal and political histories can bring us together or hold us apart. @annelyjuda

“A Moon for My Father”/ our first home screening. We are delighted to announce that our film has been selected to open the Essay Film Festival 2019 at the ICA on 26th March at 8pm. We have poured our hearts into this project over the past few years, and need to say a massive thank you to our small and amazingly team. This screening is followed by a discussion with directors Mania Akbari and Douglas White led by filmmaker Miranda Pennell. Looking forward to see you there.@ICALONDON

Opening this years Essay Film Festival will be A Moon For My Father by Mania Akbari and Douglas White. ‘It’s hard to think of another essay film in recent memory that deals with a host of weighty themes with such engaging intimacy, directness and lightness of touch as A Moon for My Father, co-written and co-directed by London-based Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari and her partner, the British sculptor Douglas White. It’s beautifully understated, leaving plenty of space for the viewer to engage and reflect, and is all the more moving for that.’@ Birkbeck Institute of Moving Image

The final third was so nerve-wracking. But also relatable: I know many individuals – and couples – who have been through similar journeys.

The earlier sections of the film were quiet miracles. Skin, water, concrete, oil, trees: you allowed me to move across time and across surfaces, to delve into earth and histories, to animate the ellipses and spaces between. You gave me time to brood, to think, to sigh. There was so much loss in this film, and yet I ended it feeling it rather joyous: you taught me about the tactile mysteries of dead fruit bats, showed how repressive pyramids can be turned into boxes for protest, brought into the world – against all odds – a whimpering ball of bloody beauty. In spite of all the darkness – of our pasts and biographies, inside our heads – you reminded me there can still be future light.@ Sukhdev Sandhu

“A Moon for My Father” is a complex and generous film about bodies. Bodies of work, bodies of politics and history- an extraordinary artist’s body as host of disease transformation under pressure- and as the subsequent carrier and giver of life. Like a punch in the gut or a needle in the abdomen, this film demonstrates that as a viewer, the medium of moving images is far more than a retinal and cognitive experience, but one of strong affect and of somatic involvement of your very own body.@ Ed Atkins, Lauren Boyle, Mathias Kryger

Dear Douglas and Mania,
A note to say just how special, how important, how profoundly affecting I found your film. I found it extraordinarily revitalising to have art’s role as interpreter, translator, mourner, lover — as the most extraordinary relation — restored to me. Thank you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to congratulate you in person. I hope I get to meet you in person someday. And Robin is a gorgeous herald of life; everything is lyrical!
Thanks, Ed Atkins

‘A Moon for My Father, made by Mania Akbari in collaboration with her partner, the sculptor Douglas White, is as brave, honest and illuminating as we have come to expect from her films.’@Geoff_Andrew

“A Moon for My Father”, Thank you It’s a wonderful, very moving and courageous film – Katie has evoked it beautifully. And further thanks to Miranda Pennell for very elegant chairing.@ Laura Mulvey

Written and directed by London-based Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari and her partner, British sculptor Douglas White, A Moon For My Father weaves a poetic tapestry from years of written and filmed correspondence between the pair. Family photographs, archival footage and imagery from White’s artwork intermix with documentary footage from Mania’s journey through cancer and pregnancy, connecting images and ideas in a dream-associative logic. Mixing the personal with the political through the visceral and conceptual engagement with the body, the film is a uncompromising, intimate work of artistic expression.

Prior to seeing A Moon for my Father, I was uncertain of what to expect from the combination of sculpture and cinema, or sculpture in cinema. But this dialogue turns out to be incredibly productive and successful. The film insists on the materiality of things and of bodies, and confronts the viewer with the brutishness of physical processes, without sentimentality and without allowing familiar narratives (of heroism/melancholy/tragedy/triumph-over-adversity) to mediate or soften bodily facts. I loved the move from human tissue to milky latex, to palm trees, to the exhumation of an ants’ nest, the discovery of a fruit bat’s corpse, of an elephant’s skin, to the impossibility of smashing open a safe with an axe — and the way paying attention to the mute testimony of such objects speaks to processes of transformation, of decay, of death and of life itself. In the film, objects and materials also link to memories of Iran. Not only to girlish memories of childhood loves, but also to the collective memory of so many damaged, mutilated bodies produced by the decimation of the Iran-Iraq war, and the invitation to consider how those wounds, like the filmmaker’s, may be made visible and may be worn with pride. Finally, after following various tangents and digressions along the way, the circularity of the film brings about another kind of revolution. The artifice of sculptural and surgical reconstruction, by turns objectifying and dehumanising, improbably makes way for the miraculous appearance of new life.@ Miranda Pennell

Mania Akbari collaborates with British sculptor Douglas White to coin a tender fusion of langauge, where a meeting of cinema and sculpture investigates the processes of physical and psychological destruction and renewal. Begun a matter of weeks after first meeting, the film charts a deepening artistic and personal relationship exploring the nature of skin, family, death, water, desire and, throughout, a powerful will to form. Akbari looks into the connection between her body and the political history of Iran, investigating the relationship between her own physical traumas and the collective political memory of her birthplace. As she undergoes surgeries on a body decimated by cancer, remembrance and reconstruction provide a framework for investigating how bodies are traumatised, censored and politicized, and yet ultimately remain a site of possibility.