April 2017 archive

Docunight #37 [Penn State]: The Shah of Iran’s Ultimate Party

Decadence and Downfall: The Shah of Iran’s Ultimate Party
Directed by Hassan Amini
2016 / 75 min
English / Persian with English Subtitles


In 1971, the Shah of Iran, the self-proclaimed ‘king of kings’, celebrated 2,500 years of the Persian monarchy by throwing the greatest party in history. Money was no object – a lavish tent city, using 37km of silk, was erected in a specially created oasis. The world’s top restaurant at the time, Maxim’s, closed its doors for two weeks to cater the event, a five-course banquet served to over sixty of the world’s kings, queens and presidents, and washed down with some of the rarest wines known to man. Over a decadent five-day period, guests were treated to a pageant of thousands of soldiers dressed in ancient Persian costume, a ‘son et Lumiere’ at the foot of Darius the Great’s temple, and the opening of the Azadi Tower in Tehran, designed to honor the Shah himself. Every party leaves a few hangovers. This one left a country reeling, never to recover. It crystallized the opposition, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. More than any other event, this party marked the break between the king of kings and the people of Iran he reigned over.

Date: Wednesday, May 3 at 7 PM – 9 PM ET.
Address: Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library, State College, PA 16801.

Docunight #36

Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
2015 / 91 min
Persian with English Subtitles

If the 18-year old Sonita had a say in things, Michael Jackson would be her father and Rihanna her mother!

She is a dreamer, always writing things about her big dream of becoming a famous rapper in her scrapbook. This, given the fact that women are not even allowed to sing in Iran! So for the time being, her only fans are the other teenage girls in the Tehran shelter; where as a refugee from Afghanistan, Sonita is getting help and counseling for the trauma she has suffered. As an added complication, her family has a very different future planned for her: As a bride in an arranged marriage, she is worth $9,000!

How can Sonita succeed in making her dreams come true?

Director Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami tries to answer this question. In the film, Sonita makes her case through her music video by arguing against forced marriage practices that take away women’s freedom.

Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami is a Sundance Award-winning documentary filmmaker who was born in Tehran. She has a BA in cinema and an MA in animation. She has made several short and feature-length documentaries, and has done researches on “animated documentary” and Cyanosis is her work for her MA degree. Her research has been published as a book in Iran.

Her other documentary, “Going Up the Stairs: Portrait of an Unlikely Iranian Artist” was shown at Docunight in 2015.

Date: Wednesday, April 5 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Address: 102 Chemistry Bldg, University Park, PA 16802-4615, United States