Bahman Ghobadi's hyphenated cinema : an analysis of hybrid authorial strategies and cinematic aesthetics



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This thesis examines Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker, Bahman Ghobadi’s authorial strategies and cinematic aesthetics through the theoretical and methodological lens of hybridity. According to Homi Bhabha, hybridity can be understood as a “third space,” in which cultural meanings resist binary either/or logic, and are instead negotiated through a logic that is neither one, nor the other. Thus, Bhabha’s concept of hybridity as a “third space” provides a fruitful framework to analyze Ghobadi’s authorship and cinematic style.

By analyzing Ghobadi’s neo-realist treatment of Kurdistan’s cultural and physical landscape and hybrid cinematic aesthetics in his first two features, A Time for Drunken Horses (2000) and Turtles Can Fly (2004), this research calls attention to intercultural processes that generate cultural meaning through indexical and material as opposed to symbolic registers. In addition, this thesis applies Hamid Naficy’s concept of “shifters” to examine how Ghobadi’s hybrid authorial strategies and narrative reflexivity garners international audiences in his two latest features, Half Moon (2006) and No One Knows about Persian Cats (2009). This project also examines how Ghobadi’s use of a digital camera and employment of digital cinematic techniques to capture Iran’s underground rock music culture in No One Knows about Persian Cats, testifies to the authenticity of this cultural space while simultaneously structuring the film as a global vehicle for these Iranian musicians’ performances.

Ultimately, Ghobadi’s hybrid authorial strategies and cinematic aesthetics function as a means to enunciate and globally circulate diverse Kurdish and Iranian cultural identities. In doing so, this thesis illuminates hybrid modes of cultural production and hybrid cultural subjectivities that have emerged in the contemporary globalized landscape.