Farhad Zamani is one of millions of Americans who enjoys two completely different cultures. As a student of medicine his father left Iran and came to New York to become a doctor. He was accompanied by his wife, Farhad’s mother, a socially active woman who enjoys culture. Thus it was that Farhad’s birthplace was Mount Kisco, New York, and he became completely bilin...
Farhad Zamani is one of millions of Americans who enjoys two completely different cultures. As a student of medicine his father left Iran and came to New York to become a doctor. He was accompanied by his wife, Farhad’s mother, a socially active woman who enjoys culture. Thus it was that Farhad’s birthplace was Mount Kisco, New York, and he became completely bilingual in Persian and English. At first he considered following in his father’s footsteps. “My father is a physician so I started to study biology. I took a film course by chance in Montclair New Jersey.” It had a profound influence on him and changed the trajectory of his career from science to film. Ultimately he got his MFA from Columbia University; he has made six films, “Googoosh” is one.
Up until 1979, Googooosh, born Faegheh Atashin, was living a diva’s dream. She was working 24-7 doing what she loved, singing, performing and acting in Persian films. This was permitted partly due to Reza Shah’s “lifting of the veil” which was done as a show of association with the West. Googoosh had been singing since she was a tiny girl, and she rose like a sun to the zenith of Pop stardom on the raw heat of her talents. Her spirit was free, and this resonated with the increasingly modern Persian society. For example she cut her hair uncharacteristically short, almost unheard of for a Persian woman in the 70’s. It was called wearing one’s hair “Googooshy,” hence her nickname. Additionally, she was a very beautiful woman who chose to wear high French fashion rather than the more common loose clothes. She was idolized by a following as ardent as those that adored Marilyn Monroe of yesteryear or Lady GaGa today.
Suddenly and tragically in the post Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Orthodox Shi'ia authorities enforced a decree prohibiting solo female performers. The veil was lowered on Googoosh. She was banished from public view. Women artists were silenced; labeled “temptresses,” forbidden to cut records or perform publicly in the presence of men. Nevertheless, Googoosh stayed in Iran and this, according to Farhad, “is her true beauty She could have run. She could've exiled the way many educated and most urban Iranians did. She would've sung in front of steadily diminishing houses of homesick émigrés in Houston or L.A. But she stayed. Her silence made her the voice of a nation. It made her Iran's Daughter.”
Farhad was incredibly intrigued. However, Googoosh’ status also meant that she could not grant interviews. As a filmmaker Farhad had to create a film, a portrait of a living artists with whom he could not interact personally. Thus a mixed media had to be used. Through clips of her performances, footage from her films and interviews with friends and family members such as her son, Farhad manages to paint the portrait of a rare woman, Googoosh, an artist living through an important historic time.