Zurkhaneh : The House of Strength

Federico Spinetti
Lab 80 Film, University of Alberta
87 minutes

Voices, aspirations and contradictions of contemporary Iran in a journey across the nearly undocumented world of Zurkhaneh, the ancient Iranian gymnasia where traditional martial arts and music come together. The film journeys from the Iranian diaspora in Canada, across urban Iran, to the first international Zurkhaneh Olympic tournament in South Korea. Music and martial arts performances are woven into encounters with vivid human experiences as athletes, musicians and experts reveal a variety of subjectivities within the religious, ethical and social world of Zurkhaneh. What emerges is the integration, and also the tension, between the ethical and competitive aspects of Iranian martial arts, between Sufi-inspired mysticism and the modernist fundamentalism of post-revolutionary Iran, between grassroots community engagement and Olympic aspirations. —Anonymous