Moral Courage



Tour Diary


Maziar Bahari
Born in Tehran, Iran in 1967, Maziar Bahari started filmmaking at the age of sixteen. In 1983, Maziar joined an amateur filmmakers club where he made Dawn, a half-hour non-fiction about the downtrodden of Tehran. After leaving Iran in 1987, Maziar went to Pakistan, where he worked as a volunteer and translator with Medecins Sans Frontiers, UNHCR and the Red Cross in Karachi, Peshawar and Islamabad. In 1988 Maziar immigrated to Canada to pursue his studies in film at Concordia University and Political Science at McGill. He financed his studies through contract work as an assistant editor and making commercials.

1995-96: After graduation Maziar researched, co-wrote, and directed The Voyage of the St. Louis about the odyssey of more than 900 German Jewish refugees in 1939. The film has been shown internationally (Discovery, Channel4, VPRO, Canal+, etc.) and won the Cable Ace award and was nominated for a Gemini Award for the best documentary feature.

1997: Return to Iran to make Art of Demolition about a group of Iranian artists who turned a house due for destruction into a temporary gallery for modern art. The film was premiered at International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) and screened at several other festivals (Montreal, Thessalonica, etc.) Shown on Arte, Kunst Kanal, Bravo, etc.

The film was made after the advent of digital technology which allowed Maziar to work as his own cameraman and sound engineer for his films as well as producing and directing them.

1999: Second film in Iran was Paint! No Matter What. It is the story of Khosrow Hassanzadeh, an artist who works at a fruit market in Tehran. Premiered at IDFA and screened at several other festivals (Paris, Montreal, Thessalonica, ArtEast, New York, etc.) Shown on Arte, Kunst Kanal, ABC, Sundance, etc.

1999: Nine short films with eight different directors for UNICEF about children rights. Maziar also directed two of the films Wishes & Wish Nots about the dreams of a disabled child and A Letter to God about Afghan refugee children. The films were chosen as the most outstanding initiative of UNICEF Iran by the United Nations in New York.

1999: Two BBC2 Correspondent programs about population control and memory of war in Iran.

2000: A Refugee Experience, commissioned by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), about the situation of Iraqi and Afghan refugees in Iran.

2000: Of Shame and Coffins about Aids in the Kwazulu-Natal province of South Africa. It was premiered at IDFA and thereafter was shown by broadcasters around the world.

2001: Football, Iranian Style about the role of football in Iranian society was also premiered at IDFA and was shown in cinemas and by broadcasters around the world (SBS, ZDF, DR2, etc.) and was awarded at several festivals (Margaret Mead, Seville, Bergen, etc.).

2002: And Along Came a Spider, about a religious serial killer in Iran. The film was premiered at IDFA. The film has been shown on televisions in more than 50 countries (HBO, France3, NPS, DR, etc.) and has been screened and awarded in more than 100 festivals around the world. The film was nominated for the Best Investigative Documentary Emmy in 2005.

2002: In December 2002 Maziarís first play A Fairly Justified Revenge was premiered in Betty Nansen Theatre in Copenhagen. The play was staged in December 2002. It will also premier in the UK in 2005 and will tour throughout Europe in the next few years. He also produced a documentary about the play for Danish television.

2003: Mohammad and the Matchmaker, commissioned by BBC2, about an Iranian HIV+ manís quest to find a wife as part of World Wedding Series.

2003: Two short documentaries about the student movement in Iran for BBC Newsnight and A Tale of Two Cities about Najaf and Qom, clerical centres in Iraq and Iran, for Channel4 News.

2003: Co-production of Dying to be Apart about Iranian conjoined twins Laleh and Ladan Bijani for Channel4.

2004: In the winter of 2004 Maziar covered Iranian elections for Channel4 News and was one of the directors of Channel4ís Karbala, the City of Martyrs.

2004: Three short documentaries about the conflict in Iraq for Channel4 News: Sistani, Object of Emulation about Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the leader of Shias in Iraq; Losing Faith, a study of human rights situation in Iraq before and after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and Children of Abu Ghraib, about children incarcerated by coalition in Iraq.

2005: Dreams of Gando about architecture in Burkina Faso for The Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

2005: Shias of Iraq featuring the first ever interview with radical cleric Moqtada Al Sadr and another film about human rights abuses by British soldiers in southern Iraq for BBC Newsnight.

2005: A short film about seven men whose hands were amputated by Saddam Husseinís regime for Channel4 News.

2005: Feature-length documentary Targets: Reporters in Iraq, commissioned by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, was broadcast on 1 December. The film was premiered at IDFA.

2005: Maziarís plays A Fairly Justified Revenge and Romance in Abu Ghraib were performed in the UK.

2006: Two feature news documentaries for Channel4 News. Drugs and Methadone Treatment in Iran and Dissident Cleric: Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

2006: Maziar organized a tour of Burundi drummers to celebrate the Heroes of Burundi: those who helped members of the other ethnicity during 1993 genocide. Maziar is currently developing a film based on the tour.

Maziar is currently developing a series of films on Islamic architecture for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

For the past six years Maziar has been Newsweek's correspondent in Iran. He has traveled widely in Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas.


© Burundi Voices Project, 2006.