Song of God by Aref Mohamamdi
Iran’s oldest Tanbur (Lute) player died at the age of 120 in a Kurdish village. Ghadamyar was the master of a spiritual faith called ‘Yarsan’. The followers of Yarsan consider the Tanbur as an instrument for meditation and prayer.
An Iranian-Canadian filmmaker travels to Iran in search of the relationship between this undiscovered faith and the art of Tanbur. After meeting with Salman, one of Ghadamyar’s seven grandchildren who himself is a master of Tanbur, he finds an opportunity to travel to Ghadamyar’s birthplace and memorial shrine. This journey turns into a quest for the Tanbur itself, as a mysterious divine lute which appears in the historical monuments of ancient Mesopotamia and the Middle East.
The film shows the Kurdish-Iranian tribe of “Yarsan” who play the Tanbur in prayer as a means to maintain their identity and aspire to spiritual beauty. The Tanbur helps the Yarsan to navigate their own inner world in search of a beauty that they can only expressed through music.
About the Director:
Aref Mohammadi is an acclaimed Journalist, filmmaker, film critic and TV producer within the Iranian communities outside Iran and is currently working and residing in Canada. He regularly provides editorials in Farsi print media.
Aref is the founder and CEO of the New Wave Artistic and Cultural Group in Toronto, Canada since 2004. Through this outlet he has been able to facilitate regular workshops, seminars and ongoing conversations about cinema in Iran and worldwide. As well, celebrating renowned veteran and contemporary artists by holding tributes has been a signature initiative for the organization.
Aref’s formal education rages from literature to filmmaking to social work and reflect on his broad base of principles, interests and expertise. Aref holds a B.A. in Literature and a diploma in Community Social Service Work. He is also pursuing an M.F.A. in Documentary Media Studies Program at Ryerson University.
In his native Iran, Aref worked as an assistant director on numerous stage productions, short films and movies. His work for cinema, stage and television expands from Iran to the international arena.
His popular interviews included many established cineastes such as Atom Egoyan, Abbas Kiarostami, Arsinee Khanjian, an Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashlou, Jafar Panahi, Majid Majidi, Bahman Ghobadi, Samira Makhmalbaf and two times Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi. In 2012, a selection of these interviews was published in a book: Iranian Cinema-Yesterday, Today.
Aref has been successful in making two short documentaries: "The Bus (2005)" is about the first female bus driver, and "New Horizon (2009)", which explored the life of the first female mechanic in Iran. Aref’s previous feature documentary is called "A Survivor from Magadan" which depicted a true story of Dr. Ata Safavi, an Iranian activist, whose life was ended by Stalin’s death camps. This documentary has successfully been screened in Toronto and across Canada, receiving numerous impressive accolades by film critics and dignitaries and possessed several Awards from Festivals such as NIFF (Los Angles), Canadian Ethnic Media Association and Tirgan Festival.
Aref’s current documentary project in progress is about Iran’s oldest Lute Player through who’s life and work and will be released in 2018. It will gain valuable insight into a key cultural heritage of that region.
Aref’s expertise has secured him an ongoing collaborative role with several other film venues here in Toronto such as :Rendezvouses with Madness Film Festival, Toronto Tirgan Biennial Summer Festival, Culture Shock Music Festival and Nowruz Cultural Festival as a film Critic, cinema Program Advisor and cinema program director since 2004.
He has utilized every opportunity to remain true to his passion by making the time and providing lectures, courses and programs at many outlets including the U of T’s Agora Philosophy Association, and universities of Toronto, Ryerson, Concordia, Guelph, Calgary and Ottawa.
Aref’s is the recipient of numerous accolades from various panels of governments, civic and community institutions such as:
Hon. Kathleen Wynne’s Volunteer Service Award (2017), ISAW( Iranian students association of waterloo), ISAUO (Iranian Student Association University of Ottawa) 2016, Ontario Volunteer Certificate by Ministry of Immigration and Culture (2015), National Ethnic Press & Media Council Award (2013) Recognized at City of Markham (2013), City of Richmond Hill (2012), Iranian & Canadian Intercultural Centre Center for community contributions (2011), Tirgan Festival (2012), Iranian Art & Culture Foundation (2011), ISAG (Iranian Students Association at University of Guelph(2008).
The inspiring journey of "Song of God" took over three years starting from the idea and research to production and post production activities. The story of Tanbur takes the audience back 7000 years to ancient Persia, delving into history and the ancient Persian literature of Ferdowsi’s 'Shahnameh' , Rumi’s 'Masnavi', Farabi’s 'The Philosophy of Music', and Kurdish Yarsan’s mythologies about characters like Rostam and Kaveh the Blacksmith.
“The Tanbur is, by definition, a number of various long-necked, fretted, plucked lutes of the Middle East and Central Asia”. Nonetheless, the Tanbur's history consistently alludes to originating in Mesopotamia and its shape and sound developing through Persian times. Combined with the fact that Tanbur artifacts have been found in an area historically populated by Kurds (and, is the same region where the Sufi affiliate, Ahl-e Haqq, faith group lives); it could very well be the Tanbur was conceived with original Iranian inhabitants. Similarly, through the rise and fall of the Assyrian, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabic and Ottoman Empires as well as numerous ethno-religious invasions/wars that occurred concurrently with empire politics and people; the Kurdish Tanbur and its music have survived. The Kurd-Iranian Ahl-e Haqq people are playing and jamm-ing in these modern times
I first learned about Ghadamyar in year 2014 and his natural and peaceful passing at the age of 120. He was born into a faith in which music is divine, and holds tanbur as the eternal bond that ties all races and nations. My original intent was to tell the world about Iran’s oldest tanbour player, whose character and spiritual connection with a musical instrument was inspiring enough to move an audience of any origin, but as I delved deeper into the project, it became a transmission to discover more about tanbure as a character of this documentary. This documentary begins with the journey of the filmmaker to the birthplace of the legendary tanbourist and the footage is interwoven with the available archives of Ghadamyar’s art and life history. Through this stream, the tanbour is traced back to its ancient roots, and its eminence in the history of different nations. The company of Ghadamyar’s grandson and other influential figures rendered the exceptional opportunity to the documentary.
What's our motive and what's our appreciation
Producing an independent feature documentary with low budget is indeed an intense challenge to any independent movie maker.
Aref Mohammadi, so far has financed most of the production of this film by himself and now at this stage, of post-production he needs your help to make this documentary with this unique subject available to public at its very best quality. He has estimated a budget of $10000 USD ($12500 CAD) to be able to accomplish Song of God's final steps of post-production goals and prepare it for public screening and send to international film festivals.
Your kind contribution will go towards the costs including:
• Final Post-production activities in Canada
• Cover the loans Aref has received from Canadian financial institutions to finance the production stage of his movie
• Marketing, Festival Submissions (Canadian and international) and Promotional Materials
• Delivering GoFundMe Perks
• Paying for GoFundMe fees
It is by the generous support of donors like yourself that Aref is able to continue creating quality productions and educational projects of great meaning. Donations of any amount are of great value and are sincerely appreciated to support Song of God project.
The help from art minded people like you within the next 60 days, would make Aref more grateful, focused and derived to continue his work for future productions in Canada as an Iranian-Canadian movie maker.