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Panel - Sanctions on the Screen: Punishing Progress in Iran

  • Dendy Newtown 261-263 King Street Newtown, NSW, 2042 Australia (map)

The recent Iran nuclear deal eased the economic and diplomatic tensions between Iran and powerful members of the international community. But these new developments come after years of economic and political isolation and severe damage to Iranian civil society, particularly injuring creatives and their ambition to pursue international collaboration, career development and community outreach. This panel examines the impact of international sanctions (particularly those imposed by US and Australia) on the Iranian cinema industry and highlights the consequences for artistic development, intellectual life and social transformation. Speakers acknowledge the transnational outlook and progressive political views held by members of Iran’s film industry and analyse the damage inflicted on their professional careers and personal lives by the sanctions regimes.

Panelists discuss contemporary Iranian cinema in the context of accelerating inflation, trade restrictions, a currency crisis, high unemployment rate, restrictions on money transfers, a paranoid conservative government and the continuous breakdown of nuclear negotiations. International sanctions have had highly detrimental consequences for Iran’s democratic process. In light of recent developments is there potential for cinema to facilitate social change and inter-cultural understanding?

Co-presented and organised by the Religion State and Society Network and the US Studies Centre in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.

Supported by Association of Iranica in Australasia.  

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  Dr. Richard James Allen

Dr. Richard James Allen


Dr. Richard James Allen: Director and Creative Producer of The Physical TV Company for over 15 years, Richard James Allen has guided dozens of film projects from conception to completion.  He is a two-time ATOM Award winning director and has had his work commissioned and purchased for multiple broadcasts by SBS and ABC-TV, and picked up for broadcast in China, Europe and on cable TV in the USA.  Richard’s multi-award winning productions with Physical TV have travelled to over 250 film festivals or public screenings on five continents, including all of the most selective and prestigious dance film festivals in the world.  These productions have garnered more than 50 nominations or awards and many of them have attracted grant funding or support through government or philanthropic arts funding bodies.  In addition to his work as a director, producer, writer and performer for the screen, Richard has an extensive track record in creating work for the stage, has written nine published books of poetry and edited a national anthology of writing for performance.  Richard won Chancellor’s Award for Most Outstanding PhD Thesis for his doctorate at the University of Technology, Sydney, and graduated with First Class Honours for his B.A. at Sydney University.  For more information, see the website of The Physical TV Company, which he co-directs with Dr Karen Pearlman:


Dr. Sarah Ellen Graham (click for website)

Dr. Sarah Ellen Graham (click for website)

Dr. Sarah Ellen Graham is Lecturer in US Foreign Policy at the United States Studies Centre. Her work examines the American government's use of propaganda and public diplomacy in contemporary and historical contexts, the role of emotions in foreign policy, and U.S. foreign policy in South Asia. Sarah was the 2007 winner of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations’ Stuart Bernath Article Prize and the recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship. She has published in Diplomatic History, Diplomacy & Statecraft, International Studies Review,Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, The Australasian Journal of American Studies and Orbis. She is the author of Culture and Propaganda: The Progressive Origins of American Public Diplomacy, 1936-1953 (Ashgate, 2015).

Rouhollah Hejazi (click for website)

Rouhollah Hejazi (click for website)

Rouhollah Hejazi - Born in Abadan, Iran in 1979, Rouhollah Hejazi directed his first short film, Serat, in 1995, then followed up with ten more, shown at domestic and international festivals. He directed television dramas before making his debut in theatrical features with Among the Clouds in 2008, which garnered several awards at festivals around the world. He directed The Private Life of Mr. & Mrs. M (2012), The Wedlock (2013) and Death of the Fish (2015).

Armin Miladi is an award winning Iranian-Australian filmmaker and co-founder and director of Iranian Film Festival Australia. Armin also works as the programmer and Artistic Director for Reel Connections Film Festival for Queensland Multicultural Centre in Brisbane, Australia.

Armin has a strong background in the arts. After graduating from Tehran University with a Bachelor of Science and Engineering, he developed a keen interest in cinema and started working as a film critic for a number of major publications in Iran. He has also made a number of short films and documentaries. Found, his first short film has screened at festivals around the world, winning several awards. He is currently developing a new project, a feature documentary shot in Tehran. In 2011, with the help of his colleague, he established the first Iranian Film Festival in Australia. Armin’s strong belief in tolerance through cultural understanding has been his driving force for establishing the festival.

Shima Shahbazi is a PhD candidate of International and Comparative Literary Studies at University of Sydney. She holds an MA in English Literature and she has taught various courses on English literature, critical theory, modern drama, literary research and comparative literature at Azad university of Tehran and Sobh-e-Sadegh institute of Higher Education in Iran. Her areas of interest include postmodern historiography, comparative literary studies, critical theory, transnational literature, women’s writing, diaspora studies, and critical discourse analysis. She has published a number of articles in national and international indexed journals.


Dr. Omid Tofighian is Research Assistant for an ARC funded project headed by Prof. Rick Benitez (USyd) and Honorary Associate in the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney. He completed his PhD in Philosophy at Leiden University, the Netherlands, and graduated with a combined honours degree in Philosophy and Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney. Over the past ten years he has lived variously in the UAE where he taught at Abu Dhabi University; Belgium where he was a visiting scholar at K.U. Leuven; the Netherlands for his PhD; and intermittent periods in Iran for research. His current roles include teaching/researching at the University of Sydney and WSU; committee member for MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) Sydney Chapter; faculty at Iran Academia; board member for Powerhouse Youth Theatre; and member of the Religion, State and Society Network (headed by Assoc. Prof. Lily Rahim [USyd]). He contributes to community arts and cultural projects and works with asylum seekers, refugees and young people from Western Sydney.

Earlier Event: 17 October
Later Event: 22 October