I, Yasaman Baghban, am an independent documentary filmmaker, photographer as well as a university lecturer at Shiraz Azad university of Art (Art of Shiraz Institute of Higher Education). My interest in the field of Arts stems from living in Shiraz – my hometown and the cultural capital of Iran – throughout my childhood. Scholars are of the conviction that art, culture, and history are inseparable elements, but culture can sometimes act like a double-edged sword. When I was a high school student, there existed a cultural “norm” which dictated that top students should become either doctors or engineers! I was among the top students in my high school; so, contrary to my true passion for arts and humanities and due to lack of audacity on my part, I succumbed to the pressure I received from my parents and the so-called “norm”, and studied mathematics. I participated in the Official University Entrance Exam of my country, and was accepted in one of the highest-ranking universities of Iran in the major of Chemical Engineering. Since the beginning of my time as a student of Chemical Engineering, I wanted to change my major or even drop out, but I could not do it. I got depressed and felt that I had no identity in that field. But when I was a sophomore, things started to look up as I became a member of the Photography and Film Center in my university, which ended up changing my destiny – I translated reviews, made bulletins, wrote for student magazines, and did all sorts of irrelevant work to engineering. Soon after graduation, I enrolled in IYCS (Iranian Youth Cinema Society), and re-took the Official Entrance Exam, whereby I was accepted and participated in a Filmmaking program which led me to make my ...very first documentary and influenced me to pursue Master of Cinema. At the time, I defined myself as an audacious woman who had overcome the dominant social structure which claimed that studying Arts is not suitable for women.
Preparation for my new course of studies took me a long time because I was not completely familiar with prominent theories in art; and I also needed a job to finance my studies. To compensate for deficiency of knowledge in art, history, culture, and human science, I passed tour guide courses. I worked as a tour guide for a short time while I was preparing myself for the Entrance Exam of Master of Arts. Having been accepted in the field of Cinema in Art University of Tehran, I moved to Tehran. That was the second turning point in my life when I started to experience an independent life and studied what I had always dreamed of. Living in a semi-metropolitan city gave me the opportunity to take part in various workshops and classes related to my major, during which time, I found out how hardworking I can be, and the audacity that I had suppressed all those years finally presented itself, and I became the top student.
I made a 26-minute documentary as the final project of my Master’s degree, called “Issued from Fasa”, which is a self-portrait documentary. In this film, I have told my story and evaluated the challenges faced by students who wish to change their major for Master’s degree.
Exploring, understanding, researching, and planning during my undergraduate studies provided me with exposure to various aspects of Arts and helped me develop an interest in documentary-making. As a woman living in a developing country, I found colonialism and imperialism too challenging; therefore, I chose post-colonialism as the theoretical framework of my master’s thesis and evaluated Chris Marker’s documentaries. This encouraged me to research more on essay-film. Having finished my undergraduate studies, I felt that I needed to share what I learned; therefore, I started to work as a lecturer at Shiraz Azad University of Art. As I was strongly captivated by the relationship between media and Cinema, I taught multimedia and photography, as well as directing.