Guest: Maziar Bahari
Venue: Annenberg Auditorium, Cummings Art Building
Film title: “To Light a Candle”
Film with English subtitles
Through personal stories and dramatic archive footage, To Light a Candle gives a powerful account of the Baha’i people in Iran, a religious minority that builds solidarity, resilience and pride among its people through its passion for education. With the establishment of the underground Baha’i Higher Institute of Education (BIHE) in 1987, the Baha’i faith – which has its roots in Iran – has championed equality and non-violence and garnered support from educationalists around the world to further its aim. Forbidden from attending or teaching at universities in Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, the students and teachers face enormous obstacles: classes are held at people’s houses in secret, with the threat of arrest part of everyday life. Through compelling interviews, personal stories and exclusive archive material – often smuggled out of Iran at great personal risk – the film shines a light on the community and exposes the brutality of Iran’s extreme religious leaders, who are unwilling to difference in any form, whether it be religious belief or the quest for knowledge. To Light a Candle is a testament not only to the spirit and determination of the Baha’i community in Iran, it highlights how education can play a vital role in supporting communities and sustaining hope.
About the Director:
Maziar Bahari is an Iranian Canadian journalist and filmmaker. He has produced a number of documentaries and news reports for broadcasters around the world including BBC, Channel4, HBO, Discovery, Canal+ and NHK and was a reporter for Newsweek from 1998 to 2011.
Bahari graduated with a degree in communications from Concordia University in Montreal in 1993. Soon after, he made his first film The Voyage of the Saint Louis (1994). His films include Paint! No Matter What (1999), Football, Iranian Style (2001), And Along Came a Spider (2002), Mohammad and the Matchmaker (1994), Targets: Reporters in Iraq (2005), Greetings from Sadr City (2007), Online Ayatollah (2008), The Fall of a Shah (2009), An Iranian Odyssey (2010), From Cyrus to Ahmadinejad (2011) and Forced Confessions (2012). His production company, Off-Centre Productions, was launched in 1998. A retrospective of Bahari’s films was organized by the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November 2007. Bahari has been a jury member of number of international film festivals. In September 2009, Bahari was nominated for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord.
During the 2009 Iranian Election Protests he was arrested without charge, and detained in Evin prison for 118 days. Then They Came for Me, Bahari’s family memoir, was published by Random House in June 2011. Rosewater, a film by Jon Stewart based on the book and starring Gael Garcia Bernal, is currently in post-production. In 2013, Bahari launched Iranwire.com, which focuses on current affairs, culture and politics, and is available in both Persian and English. Journalism for Change, a platform devoted to citizen journalism and the promotion of quality and innovative reporting across the globe, will be launched in 2014.