Fifi Howls From Happiness
MITRA FARAHANI’S FASCINATING DOCUMENATARY EXPLORES THE PROVOCATIVE AND TURBULENT LIFE OF BAHMAN MOHASSESS, THE IRANIAN ARTIST KNOWN AS THE “PERSIAN PICASSO”
“A fascinating portrait.” – Jay Weissberg, VARIETY
Five stars! “Stunningly multifaceted…surprising and deeply affecting.” – Keith Uhlich, TIME OUT NEW YORK
“Addictively fascinating…the lovely meeting of artistic sensibilities makes this doc sing.” – Michael Atkinson, VILLAGE VOICE
Mitra Farahani’s lyrical documentary FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS explores the enigma of provocative Iranian artist Bahman Mohassess, the so-called “Persian Picasso,” whose acclaimed paintings and sculptures dominated pre-revolutionary Iran. A tribute to an elusive and iconoclastic artistic genius who abandoned his country over 30 years ago for a simple, secluded life in Italy, FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS affirms the power of creative freedom, the right of the artist to create and to destroy, and above all, to have no regrets.
Irreverent and uncompromising, an openly gay man in a hostile world, Mohassess had a conflicted relationship with his homeland—revered by elites in the art scene and praised as a national icon, only to be censored later by an oppressive regime. While the new Iranian government destroyed many of his works, Mohassess himself obliterated even more– in rage at man’s inhumanity to man, environmental destruction, and the futility of idealism. Determined to interview Mohassess years later, fine artist/filmmaker Farahani discovered him two months prior to his death living alone in a hotel room in Rome. The subsequent time Farahani spent with Mohassess—a chain-smoking recluse with the mouth of a sailor and the soul of a poet who was as likely to lapse into a political rant as a burst of eccentric laughter—led her to craft the perfect final biography, in Mohassess’s own words and on his terms.
An official selection at the New York, Telluride and Berlin Film Festivals, FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS won the International Competition Award at the 2014 Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival. At Rotten Tomatoes, FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS holds a remarkable 100% rating, with the critics enthusiastically applauding filmmaker Mitra Farahani’s determination to chronicle the life and times of one of the world’s most remarkable and controversial artists.
“[The film is] a portrait of the artist as a refusenik, a recluse, a survivor and a stubborn question mark,” declared Manohla Dargis of THE NEW YORK TIMES. “FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS registers, by turns, as a celebration, an excavation and an increasingly urgent rescue mission.”