Precious Elements: In Conversation with Parastoo Anoushahpour31 January 2024
By Anqi Shen
I can’t say for certain why Parastoo Anoushahpour’s recent film The Time That Separates Us (2022) absorbed my attentions. In the spring, I found myself on the edge of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus in Innis Town Hall, a cinema and lecture theatre. I was compelled to take out my notebook in the dark to record some thoughts: Story of the Ammonites / Lot’s daughters—The key to taking a selfie is to take just one—’Valle’–Yes—There–English—Not everything is meant to be written—All memories become important—A light hand / a Heavy Land.
As part of a 2023 Images Festival screening series called Passages, Anoushahpour’s film was screened alongside the works of Iranian filmmakers Naghmeh Abbasi, Siavash Yazdanmehr, and Rojin Shafiei. Collectively, these works spoke to each other in Arabic and Farsi, between modes and metaphors. I tried to understand the language between them. Shot in Jordan and Palestine, The Time That Separates Us is grounded in the land and the mythologies around Lot’s Wife and the Pillar of Salt. In the film, an intimacy of thoughtful and honest intentions is foregrounded in the exploration of the film’s subjectivities in a heavily mediated landscape.
A couple of weeks after the screening, during a trip to New York City, I reached out to Anoushahpour to ask if she would be open to talking about her work. The Toronto-based filmmaker and artist spoke with me from Athens, Greece, where she was at the time. Our conversation meandered between ideas I had sent her in an email, and we spoke about elements of craft and process—not in a way that would explain certain artistic decisions or meanings, but to more insightfully navigate why I came away feeling so touched by her work.Continue Reading