Short Archival film. #AutoEtnography 2000-2019
Lost in her hair(Monday), starts with an excited young Iranian girl getting ready for her first day of school. As her mother is brushing her hair and dressing her, she has varied conversations with off-frame family members that reflect cultural specificities.
Halfway through, the film cuts to the grown-up girl, isolated in a room, calling for a cab to an international airport, suggesting that she is about to leave the country. The second half of the film focuses on the last seconds of her residence in her home country, stuck between residues of intimacy and memories while an inevitable future overseas waiting for her. Oscillating between the self-portrait tradition and autobiography, this film illustrates one of many struggles of contemporary womanhood in Iran: hair and veil through a very experimental personal lens.
My childhood was marked by documentations of a lot of firsts. My family, sharing my aunt’s lone mini-DV camcorder among their whole big group, has decided what the pivotal moments to be captured for me were. I have often asked myself, “Who were they capturing these moments for?” Remembering my grandfather’s ID, with no birth date on it, I think about this footage as a way, an attempt, to construct or retrieve a rigid, tangible family history. On another note, in a family full of outspoken people who have had their bravery paid with exile and prison, etc., I can’t trace any encouragement for leaving any written or captured documentation of anyone’s actual life in our previous generation. The reason probably involves their early years - a generation of pride, of protests, of revolution. A camera trained on the tumultuous streets of their youth, a cinema verite of the people, turned its lens, over time, to personal moments, zoomed inward. And yet, looking back - watching a red skirt and wavy hair become a dark uniform and tight, covered braids - these personal moments drift move back to a political space. At age seven, the personal becomes public for all Iranian girls, as the law compels them to cover themselves in a specific way just to be able to attend school.
This archive of personal footage I found is precious, a reference point to discover the beginnings of the establishment of my future path. Warm voices, out of frame, present yet invisible. The wish for higher education, a seven-year-old girl’s knowledge of the word PhD. A cultural colonialism that has already taught this girl an accented English alphabet without even knowing her first language completely. These elements, and so many more unmentioned and unmentionable, eventually lead the young woman to leave the country,.as if her life’s course is predestined. Keeping the family ritual of documenting, this time she is doing it herself, as if there is no one, nothing between her and the camera: a pure practice of writing with the camera, a video essay with documentary touches, a mirror of the influx of entangled subjects of a culture.