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Nazarbazi [the play of glances] is a film about love and desire in Iranian cinema where depictions of intimacy and touch between women and men are prohibited.

A new era of censorship filtered through Iran’s cinema after the revolution of 1979, leading to a long prohibition on all forms of on-screen touch between men and women. Recouping an erotic charge in the films which followed, Maryam Tafakory’s Nazarbazi—translated from Farsi as the play of glances — draws together scenes of chaste desire, crimson lips and furtive stares from a thirty-year period. In this fugitive archive, a parallel history of veiled expression and narrative subterfuge accumulates. Choice overlays and image manipulations allow separated bodies to meet briefly and in these gentle interventions to the film materiality, we can feel Tafakory’s hand, another kind of touch.

Restrictions to art have long been met with subversion. Just as the Hays Code had sought to sanitise 1930s Hollywood in service to a campaign of cultural and moral statecraft, mobilising in turn a new aesthetic of subtlety, allusion and innuendo, Nazarbazi shows us a catalogue of techniques and motifs which surpass the physical in their expression of desire, sex and intimacy. By ventriloquising found footage, sound and text-on-screen alone to articulate this history, Tafakory—in a remarkable echo of her forebears—returns us to the suggestive power of silence, of withholding as a way to speak.

Marcus Jack

Director filmography: Irani Bag (2021), I Have Sinned A Rapturous Sin (2017), Absent Wound (2016), Poem & Stone (2015), Fragments Of (2014), Taklif (2014), I Was Five (2014)

  • Director Maryam Tafakory
  • Country Iran, UK
  • Year 2022
  • Duration 19m


Bill Douglas Award 3: We will not act accordingly

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