Mamali Shafahi – Daddy Sperm (2019)

Nature Morte is a docu-fiction in two episodes which initially grew out of Mamali Shafahi’s Daddy Sperm reflection on the “miracle” of life: how a drop of liquid becomes a human being; on the artistic, creative cycle and the cycle of life; and the relationship between parents and children and how they transform each other. Shafahi uses his parents as the actors in his film. He sees it as his response to Sohrab Shahid-Saless’s Still Life (1974), which inspired the title.

The first part, actually entitled Daddy Sperm, opens with an “everyday portrait” of his parents at home. We see them in their day-to-day life, retired in the suburbs of Tehran, but also in some situations where we feel, led on by their son, they are getting ready for something stranger to happen later. Gradually, directed by Mamali as actors and, in his mother’s case, as a dancer, they are finally transported into an imaginary world far away from their everyday reality.


Mamali Shafahi (b. 1982, Iran) lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Tehran, Iran. Shafahi is a film-maker and video installation artist. His practice, varying from installation to sculpture and film, includes a deep fascination with the impact of emerging technologies on life and art. His early work in France, at the Paris-Cergy school of fine arts, focused on performance. He then produced a number of video installations, and his investigation of relationships between past, present, future and emerging technologies led to the V[i]Rology installation at the Mohsen Gallery, in 2017. From 2014 to 2017 he worked on an experimental docu-fiction film, Nature Morte, involving his parents as both actors and digital characters, screened at Art Rotterdam, in Taiwan and London. In 2019 he made an installation combining his father’s drawings with his own installation, sculptures and the film for City Princes/ses at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. His VR projects, with Ali Eslami, have featured at Het nieuwe instituut, Rotterdam, the Vancouver Biennale, IDFA film festival in Amsterdam and CPH DOX, Copenhagen. The nerd_funk VR project won the ‘Golden Calf’ for best interactive work at the 2020 Netherlands Film Festival.