NAJMEH MORADIYAN RIZI
Ph.D student and Graduate Teaching Assistant
4 years at KU
Research focus: Iranian and Middle Eastern Cinemas; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Documentary Film Studies; Feminist Film Theories; Transnational Cinema
Recent publication: "The Acoustic Screen: The Dynamics of the Female Look and Voice in Abbas Kiarostami's Shirin." Synoptique 5.1 (2016): 44-56
Najmeh received her B.F.A. in Cinema with an Editing concentration and M.A. in Cinema Studies from Tehran University of Art in Iran. She received a second M.A. in Film and Media Study from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research work focuses mainly on the sexual and gender transformations of Iranian society and the intersection of these changes with the Iranian film industry.
"I am very happy and honored to be in this department. The Ph.D. program has allowed me to find my voice as a film scholar and further has opened new horizons of scholarly research for me which I will draw from in the years to come."
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Esfahan, Iran.
How did you learn about the grad/Ph.D program in the Film Department?
For the first time, I heard about KU and Film and Media Studies (FMS) Department when I was studying at the Tehran University of Art in Iran. I and some of my friends were looking for graduate programs in film in the U.S. and Europe and that’s how we came to learn about KU and the FMS Department. A few years later, while I was finishing my Master’s degree in the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York at Buffalo, I started closely looking for departments that offer doctoral degrees in Film and Media Studies or related fields, and due to my prior familiarity with the KU PhD program in Film and Media Studies, the FMS Department became one of my major choices to apply for in order to pursue my PhD. I am very happy and honored to be in this department. The PhD program has allowed me to find my voice as a film scholar and further has opened new horizons of scholarly research for me which I will draw from in the years to come.
What is your current focus in your studies?
My general research interests are Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas, especially the ways in which women’s, gender, and sexuality issues in the Middle East, and particularly in Iran, come to affect not only filmic representations, but also the films’ production, dissemination, and reception. In particular, my current study focuses on Iranian documentary film practices and how they navigate the gender and sexual transformations of Iranian society.
How did you get interested in film and what do you like about it most?
Since my childhood I was introduced to various (trans)national films and literature by my family, but it was particularly during my middle school years that I saw an exceptional potential in cinema and film for personal, social, and cultural expressions that captured my imagination and motivated me to eagerly watch films and closely read film magazines and other film books. From that moment on, I have always marveled at film’s multi-faceted capacities. Regardless of its socio-cultural specificities, film has a universal language and is one of the most effective ways for bringing about cultural understanding and dialogue across various nationalities, ethnicities, and religions. These features of film have provided me not only with a rich cinematic perspective through which I can tackle many socio-cultural and gender issues in my country, but also with a better understanding of the world through which I can bridge various cinemas and cultures within a transnational context.
What do you like best about Lawrence?
Lawrence is a beautiful and hospitable college town with a rich history and vibrant culture. The people are very friendly and open to international students. I especially like the beautiful and lively downtown with its various shops and restaurants and the Lawrence Public Library with its great film collection!
When you graduate what do you hope to go on to?
I hope to teach at a university/college and continue my research and publications on issues of gender and sexuality in Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas as well as work on other new topics.
Do you have any personal favorite films?
Chungking Express features one of my favorite songs which is "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas. Like one of the film's female characters who usually listens and dances to the song in the film, when I was in Iran, I used to (over)play "California Dreamin" for myself all the time and lip-sync the song. I still enjoy listening to this music. The film also delineates the vibrant youth culture of Hong Kong in the 1990s and I could somehow create a connection between that with the youth culture in Tehran in the 2000s. Stylistically, Chungking Express offers a unique and daring cinematic approach, somehow Godardian, in the ways in which the story and the characters are presented and the cinematography and editing are done, and from the moment I saw the film it instantly hooked me.