The University of Iowa

In the news: Filmmaker Ghazvinizadeh shares wealth of knowledge

August 23rd, 2018

Anahita Ghazvinzadeh sits at her desk on Tuesday, August 21st, 2018. This is her first year teaching at the University of Iowa. (Thomas A. Stewart/The Daily Iowan)

By Michael McCurdy, The Daily Iowan

At 29, screenwriter and director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh recently débuted her first feature film, They, around the world to critical acclaim.

Now, she finds herself in a new Midwestern home, spreading her unique wealth of experiences and knowledge to the University of Iowa community as an assistant professor of cinema.

“In my filmmaking process, the writing process is really significant,” Ghazvinizadeh said. “So when I heard about this position centered on film production in a location with a rich writing culture, I figured that’s exactly the fields that would help with my own practice as a filmmaker.”

She teaches screenwriting courses in the undergraduate program. However, writing for film has not always been her top area of interest. Born and raised in Iran, at a young age Ghazvinizadeh spent much of her time wandering through literature, short stories being her favorite aspect of prose.

She said that because her mother did not allow participation in sports, she focused her interest in other areas, such as stories related to the performing arts that ignited a passion for theater production. For Ghazvinizadeh, the passion was not something she initially envisioned a career in because she comes from a family fixated on the sciences rather than the arts. 

“I was raised in a family that really valued literature, but at the same time, it was kind of expected of me to become a scientist, with my sister later becoming a physicist and my dad as a pharmacist,” Ghazvinizadeh said.  “By the end of high school, I was supposed to take an exam for physics or math, but I felt this urge to study film. So my path was in my hands, I chose it, but there were some decisions that magically appeared on my way that were so strong I could not resist this love for storytelling.”

After completing school at the Tehran University of Art, she ventured to Chicago in pursuit of an M.F.A. in studio arts from the School of Arts Institute. Because of uneasy relations between her home country of Iran and the United States, travel back and forth was a complicated, uneasy matter. So instead, she decided to nix her initial idea of directing her short “Needle” at home and start over in Chicago.