Mania Akbari

Mania Akbari

Robber of Reality

Mania Akbari has made films that have upset the religious establishment in Iran, and as a result she lives in exile. But this has not prevented her from continuing to make her controversial films. Watch her talk about being a filmmaker in this extensive interview.

“I think that painting is my father and the products of this father are cinema and video art.” Akbari started out as a painter, but found that she needed more space and possibilities in order to express the things she wanted to convey: “My sense was that this medium and this father demanded release one day for me to be able to tell my stories.”

The pendulum-like play between dreams and reality is of great interest to Akbari, who feels that one can uncover meaning in the space between the two: “I always think if you were to completely lose your dreams, perhaps your mental death has arrived. Likewise, if you are in a constant dream state and lose a sense of reality the effect will be the same.”

Akbari stresses that though she is no “cinema lover”, she still acknowledges cinema's ability to serve as a tool for a story to reach the public and “transform it from a geographical and simple story to a concept.” Through this the viewer can “see with his or her eyes, hear the sound, read the subtitles – and a triangular subliminal relationship is born.”

Mania Akbari (b. 1974 in Tehran, Iran) is an internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, actress, painter and writer, whose works deal with themes such as sexual identity, women, marriage, abortion, infidelity and lesbianism. Because of the themes discussed in her films and her opposition to censorship, she is considered one of the most controversial filmmakers in Iran. Her first feature-length film ’20 Fingers’ (2004), which was a study of marriage and sexual identity, won the best film prize at the Venice Film Festival’s Digital Cinema section. During the production of her film ‘From Tehran to London’ (2012-13), Iranian authorities arrested her distributor, and Akbari chose to flee to London. Retrospectives of her films have been featured at international venues such as BFI, Oldenburg International Film Festival and the Danish Film Institute. For more about Mania Akbari see: http://www.mania-film.com/

Mania Akbari was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2014.

Camera: Steen Møller Rasmussen
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus and Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Riad Sattouf

    On 'The Arab of the Future'

    Franco-Syrian Riad Sattouf here discusses his emotionally honest graphic memoir, praised as ”a classic within its genre.” Sparked by the civil war in Syria, it is told from a child’s perspective, humorously balancing between two cultures.

  • Joyce Pensato

    Advice to the Young

    Homer, Mickey, Batman! Joyce Pensato – known for her unique work inspired by cartoon and comic book characters – here advises young artists to keep at it, love what they’re doing and, most importantly, “show your work, get it out there!”

  • Ulay

    Advice to the Young

    “If you want and need inspiration – go behind the central station.” The iconic artist – and self-proclaimed anarchist – Ulay here advises young artists to avoid art institutions and to make works that meet their own needs rather than that of the audience.

  • George Condo

    The Artist at Work

    The mind of American artist George Condo has been referred to as a place where “Picasso meets Looney Tunes.” Watch him at work in his New York-studio where he draws and paints his take on a 19th century painting by Manet.

  • Ulay

    Under My Skin

    This is the story of legendary artist Ulay, famous for his collaboration with Marina Abramović. As a solo artist in search for his identity, Ulay’s radical works have pushed the limits of photography and performance using his own body as material.

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Olga Tokarczuk

    I Absorb Stories

    Olga Tokarczuk – one of the most important Polish writers of her generation – here shares how she draws inspiration from others: “People tell amazing micro-stories or even bigger stories. I seize them, absorb them and transform them in my books.”