Mahshad Afshar (b. Iran) is an award-winning writer, director, visual artist, and researcher living and working in London. Her work predominantly explores the aesthetics of painful otherness, memory, and politicized body and identity. By employing diverse mediums such as archival material, photographs and paintings, she intricately weaves together a cinematic collage. This artistic creation delves into the nuanced, enigmatic world of women, transcending mere gendered experiences. Looking through an intersectional feminist lens, her projects offer new perspectives into the female gaze, exploration, and representation of womanhood.
Afshar graduated from the London Film School in Filmmaking/Directing with an MA in 2014 and earned a Ph.D. in Film Studies at Kingston University London in 2023. She co-directed her debut feature docudrama, “Cul-de-sac” (2010), which received a significant reception from the international press and media. The film was screened at twenty-three international film festivals, including Amnesty International and various human rights and women’s rights organizations. Subsequently, Afshar has directed and produced a diverse range of documentaries and short films, such as “Carmen” (2013), and produced “Angelus Novus” (2015), “Five” (2017), among others.
In her documentary and film essay project, “Women on Both Sides of the Camera” (2020), Afshar explores the concept of the female gaze by examining how Iranian female filmmakers represent female identity on the screen. The film is currently circulating at international film festivals and has received nominations and screenings at numerous events, including ReadingFilmFEST 2021, Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival in New York, Cine-Excess International Film Festival, Spotlight on Academics Film Festival, Women’s Vices Now Festival in Los Angeles, and more. It won the Best Film award on Women and Women’s Issues at the Museum Talkies International Film Festival 2021 in India and earned the titles of Best Feature Documentary and Best Director at the Hollywood Women-Themed International Film Festival 2021.
Her latest work, co-directed and produced by James Dann and titled “Section 298,” is a short documentary about the persecution of a religious minority in Pakistan. Told through the eyes of three persecuted female Ahmadiyya, it unveils the harsh realities of life under Pakistan’s deadliest law.