Swedish-Iranian filmmaker to visit campus during Out of Scandinavia Week and show award-winning films
Gustavus Adolphus College contains a unique and colorful history that includes a strong Scandinavian influence. Because of Gustavus’ vibrant Scandinavian history, the Scandinavian Studies Department sponsors Out of Scandinavia Week. This week is dedicated to strengthening our ties with the Nordic countries, as well as increasing our awareness of the numerous contributions made to the arts by Scandinavia. Since 1989, Gustavus has had the distinct honor of inviting a variety of award-winning writers and artists from the various Nordic countries to visit and speak at our school during this educational week.
This year, the honored guest of Out of Scandinavia Week is Nahid Persson Sarvestani. Sarvestani is an Iranian-Swedish filmmaker who was born in 1960 in Shiraz, Iran. Among her most popular and influential films are Prostitution Behind the Veil, My Mother—A Persian Princess, The End of Exile, and The Last Days of Life. Her film Prostitution Behind the Veil was considered so detrimental to her native country that she was arrested and imprisoned by Iranian authorities.
nother film by Sarvestani, Four Wives—One Man, was found to be so controversial that it had to be smuggled out of Iran in order to be edited in Sweden. Sarvestani has received numerous awards for her many films, including The Queen and I, which premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 2009.
The tradition of Out of Scandinavia Week was created by Professor Roland Thorstensson, the chair of the Scandinavian Studies department. Thorstensson was born in Sweden and began his long-standing career at Gustavus in 1971. He believes that Scandinavian studies are important to Gustavus not only because of our school’s heritage, but also because “every liberal arts school needs something distinctive and unique.” This unique quality is not just Gustavus’ Scandinavian history, but the way in which we “make something real out of that connection,” Thorstensson said. “We have an enormous connection to the Nordic countries.” Out of Scandinavia Week is one way to strengthen that connection and help it flourish.
Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies Helena Karlsson is also responsible for the excitement surrounding this year’s Out of Scandinavia Week. Karlsson was born in Sweden and has worked at Gustavus for three years. It was her interest in both Scandinavian studies and the Middle East that gave her the idea for this year’s artist-in-residence, Nahid Sarvestani. Because of her ties to both Scandinavia and Iran, “Nahid casts an interesting double perspective,” Karlsson said. Her films shed light on an unseen culture that is overshadowed by its religious devotion.
arvestani’s films will “enlighten people about Iran,” Karlsson said, not only because of their in-depth look into the culture, but also because they are “very intimate.”
Sarvestani will be showing The Queen and I and Prostitution Behind the Veil as well as speaking about her life experiences and her escape from Iran during Out of Scandinavia Week. This educational and eye-opening experience will take place during the week of November 16-20, 2009. The Queen and I will be shown on Nov. 16, and on Nov. 19, Sarvestani will give a lecture followed by a showing of Prostitution Behind the Veil.