Writer, producer, director and mentor Amin Palangi concludes a stellar year of achievements with the Screen Transfusions program at the Information and Cultural Exchange in Parramatta.
Screen culture producer at the Parramatta-based Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) Amin Palangi will round off a memorable year with the Screen Transfusions program that calls on writers, directors, cinematographers, editors and sound recorders to create a six-part web series about Western Sydney. A film and documentary maker in Iran, Afghanistan and Australia, Palangi has had his work screened on the ABC and SBS and is soon to release the low-budget fan-dependant Australian feature, Seeing the Elephant, which he directed to a script by American/Australian poet and playwright Billy Marshall Stoneking.
The year began in February with Australia’s first Persian International Film Festival, which Palangi co-founded and directed with his wife, documentary producer Sanaz Fotouhi, who is completing a PhD on post-revolutionary diasporic Iranian authors who write in English. “The importance of [the] festival is to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about the term Persian,” she said at the time. “Iranian cinema has had a lot of publicity in recent years but Afghan and Tajik voices also need to be heard.” Never ones to do things by halves, to mark the significance of the inaugural event with a very special guest, Palangi and Fotouhi flew in Asghar Farhadi, the director of A Separation.
In July, three of 10 films Palangi produced at ICE were screened at the 2012 Indie Gems Film Festival at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta. The films were made over the course of 12 weeks in a writing and editing project he supervised. One film, Fairytale, by Marie Setiawan, observed the relationship between a Chinese-Vietnamese woman and her Iranian boyfriend, exactly the kind of thing that Palangi’s work promotes in his work with diverse cultures.
A film from another ICE screen culture project won the short film award at the 2012 Korean Film Festival in Australia in August. Directed by Mike Kang and produced by Palangi, Immigrants and Cigarettes was one of several films made in the Get It on The Big Screen project, which were free workshops run in two stages over three weekends. Cinematographers, editors, set designers, make-up artists and actors had two weekends with experienced trainers to expand their skills before they formed production teams with a director to make three short films.
Besides training and coordinating workshops in directing, writing, and editing with software such as Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer, Palangi mentors emerging filmmakers and storytellers across Western Sydney through projects like STUFF. The proposition for this was simple and direct: seven filmmakers, seven short films, seven stories and seven locations. With Palangi and Billy Marshall Stoneking behind them, the emerging talents and the 40 cast and crew could see their work on the big screen just weeks after an intense burst of imagination and energy.
Naturally, from their collaborative work they do, the kind of film Palangi and Stoneking would make together could only be about multiple characters from diverse backgrounds whose stories intersect and overlap. A Filipino father who fears his son might be gay; a Vietnamese mother who won’t tolerate her daughter’s boyfriend because he isn’t Asian; an Iranian university student whose mother won’t let him grow up; and a Pakistani daughter losing a dying father who could never admit his love. In Seeing the Elephant, past and future collide in a new country. These are constant themes in the films Palangi produces and promotes. Screen Transfusions is a natural progression from all of these projects, the difference being this time the films are made strictly for the Web.