In conjunction with the short film and video program Hearing Aids in McEvoy Arts’ Screening Room, guest curator Alison O’Daniel presents Jafar Panahi’s 1997 narrative film The Mirror that explores the interplay of imagination and reality. Like the films in Hearing Aids, The Mirror offers a multi-sensorial view of urbane life that complicates our relationship between the aural and the visual, introducing viewers to a spacious view of sound not always rooted in the ear.
When her mother is late to pick her up from school, first-grader Mina (Mina Mohammad Khani) takes matters into her own hands, navigating the public transportation and bustling traffic of Tehran on a precarious adventure of the everyday. Attempting to find her way home, Khani bumps against several sorts of characters. During a long bus ride, she pays particular attention to the behavior of women, observing a young couple’s loving glances, a fortune-teller advising a wife about her cheating husband, and an aged mother complaining about her neglectful children.
But what begins as a charming child’s-eye portrait of Iranian society soon reveals itself to be something even richer and more surprising, as Panahi turns the conventions of narrative filmmaking inside out. Like his previous film, 1995’s The White Balloon (with a script by Abbas Kiarostami), The Mirror takes the kid-on-a-quest genre prevalent in Iranian cinema in new and unexpected directions while painting a richly textured portrait of modern Tehran and the people who inhabit it.
Alison O’Daniel is a visual artist and filmmaker working across sound, narrative, sculpture, installation and performance. Her work has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Centro Centro, Madrid, Spain; Renaissance Society, Chicago; and Centre d’art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest, France. Her film, The Tuba Thieves, has received support from Ford Foundation JustFilms; Creative Capital; Sundance; IFP; Points North; Field of Vision; and Chicken and Egg. She is a recipient of the SFFILM Rainin Grant for Filmmakers with Disabilities, a 2019 Louis Comfort Tiffany award and has received grants from Art Matters; the Rema Hort Mann Foundation; Center for Cultural Innovation; the California Community Foundation; and Franklin Furnace Fund. She was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and writing on O’Daniel’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; Artforum; The Los Angeles Times; BOMB; and ArtReview. She is represented by Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles and is an Assistant Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Runtime: 95 minutes
Language: Farsi w/ English subtitles
Director: Jafar Panahi
Producer: Vahid Nikkhah Azad, Jafar Panahi
Screenplay: Jafar Panahi
Editor: Jafar Panahi
Cinematographer: Farzad Jadat
Cast: Mina Mohammad Khani, Kazem Mojdehi, Naser Omuni
The Mirror is co-produced by McEvoy Foundation for the Arts and the Roxie Theater in conjunction with the exhibition Next to You at McEvoy Arts.