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Towards a Cinema of Empathy
October 8, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
Laudan Nooshin is Professor of Music at City, University London, UK. She is an active researcher working in the broad field of Iranian music and sound studies. She has published books and articles on Iranian classical, popular and film music, and is currently writing a volume on the sounds of Tehran (supported by a Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust). Laudan is committed to outreach work and has recently led a project producing a children’s book and music based on the story of Zaal from the Shahnameh.
Despite the centrality of sound to cinema, a certain preoccupation with visual and other dimensions, such as political and social commentary, in Iranian film scholarship has largely obscured the role of sound. This talk explores a single film, The May Lady by Rakhshan Banietemad (1998), through the lens of sound, with a focus on the act of listening – who listens to whom and who has the authority to listen and to be listened to – and specifically the ways in which notions of empathy are sonically mediated. Asking what attention to sound might reveal, I explore the kinds of subjectivities engendered through sound and the messages that may lie hidden within the sonic. I am particularly interested in how the performative act of listening lays bare the materiality of sound that has been largely overlooked in the literature and how the sonic thereby serves to generate a physically experienced shared affect, intimacy and embodied empathy with the characters on screen.