Isfahan owes a lot to Zaven Ghokasian; without his efforts, cinema wouldn’t have survived in this Iranian city.
On February 21, Sharq published a laudatory tribute by Bahman Farmanara, an Iranian director, screenwriter, and producer, to Zaven Ghokasian, a filmmaker, critic, and professor of cinematography who passed away a day earlier. The following is a partial translation of the item in which Farmanara reminisced about the past, paying tribute to late Ghokasian who like him was originally from Isfahan:
Walking next to Vank Cathedral in Isfahan, a pudgy man of medium build approached the camera behind which Bahman Kiarostami was positioned. We were in Isfahan to make a documentary. We soon realized that it was Zaven Ghokasian, the leading cinematography figure in town.
Without him, cinema wouldn’t have survived long in Isfahan. With a lot of enthusiasm, perseverance and kindness, Zaven would attract people to film festivals or to classes he held; he was the one who encouraged the youth interested in cinema to attend such gatherings.
A while ago when Zaven’s mother passed away and we went to Isfahan to attend her memorial, we were astonished at the sight of the large crowd coming from far and wide to offer condolences. It was surprising because Zaven did not hold public office, nor was he a man in a high position.
Still, he was well loved by all those who were enthusiastic about cinema in Isfahan. Although Zaven was at the center of attention, he was surprised about how sincerely the public mourned his mother.
Zaven and I were always fond of food and eating. Sometimes we’d make fun of ourselves for our excessive interest. Our shirts were always the butt of jokes we exchanged. […] He would always laugh off my banters gracefully.
Zaven was the one behind the success of the international short film festival in Isfahan. Leading figures like Abbas Ghanjavi [a film editor] would travel from Tehran to Isfahan every week to teach classes and even stood in for Zaven every time he called in sick.
Zaven Ghokasian was an ordinary citizen of a major city of Iran whose passion for cinema and its survival in his hometown turned him into a giant; a heavyweight who left a mark which will last for good.
My dear friend, rest in peace; you will always remain a sweet memory in my mind. I am ever so glad that thanks to my own disease I did not see you suffer. The image of you as a pudgy man of medium build with your typical laugh walking next to Vank Cathedral will be imprinted in my mind.