The terror of oppression is realized in this Speilberg-level sci-fi short film
August 9, 2018
“You promised us paradise”
Few pieces of art can so deftly depict a moment, feeling and conversation in a mere six minutes. Even fewer pieces of art can do so with visual storytelling that grabs ahold of your senses, inviting YOU into a reality adjacent to your own that is steeped in eloquent science fiction imagery. ‘SHAHMARAN’, a short film by Iranian-Dutch singer-songwriter Sevdaliza and Ghanain director Emmanuel Adjei manages to achieve all of the above – a tour-de-force of storytelling through music and imagery. The film was created for the song with the same title on Sevdaliza’s debut album ‘ISON’.
Shahmaran, is the creator and creation in symbiosis. It is a painting that remains unfinished. The musical process, of composition and production which was ongoing for several years, gave Sevdaliza the ability to let Shahmaran grow as she grew in her artistry.
The film is co-written and directed by Adjei, who wanted to share a specific story of the continued oppression of Black men through false aspirations fueled by materialism and decadence. “Chase the money and expensive stuff to be happy but they (and all us) become victim to it all.” The Black men in the video drag themselves across the desert floor, bound by gold chains and rope that is attached to a futuristic ship. Slaves to someone else’s progress. As one of the subjugated black male bodies finds freedom, Adjei takes this protagonist on a journey that, at the end, reveals the fickle nature of his emancipation. Decadence is a mirage in this desert wasteland littered with structures plucked out of a science fiction fantasy.
The modern chains on black men today are the aspirations of decadence, power and success that create a false sense of autonomy and freedom. This leaves them victim to addictions to power and materialism. Unable to venture outside what is “expected” of their behavior. The film serves to show two very different marginalized individuals (Sevdaliza & Adjei) supporting one another, whilst respecting each other’s space and voice.
The production is as breathtaking as it is intriguing, building a world in the dessert through sophisticated imagery produced by the kind of visual effects work you’d find in a Summer blockbuster. Adjei, Sevdaliza and the talented team behind this movie construct a visual feast to accompany the powerful musical stylings of the singer. The collaborative effort of a Ghanain Black man and an Iranian woman is clear and it yields a painfully beautiful rendition of the struggle Black men endure trying to find a place where they can truly be free.