Jila Nikpay



Neither Confirmed nor Denied: MFA 2015

SUArt Galleries

April 2 – May 10, 2015


Artist Statement

In my films I explore the relationship between identity and power. I am often inspired by
the lives of individuals and communities who are uprooted, dislocated or in transition due
to socio-political forces. This is a familiar theme to me, reflecting my own experience of
living in two diametrically opposed cultures. An integral part of my work is experimenting
with narrative language that engenders a synthesis of diverse aesthetics and ideological
approaches, which I consider transnational. While this aesthetic synthesis will never be
fully realized, it often leads to a deeper understanding of issues of identity and power.
I consider my work part of the emerging genre of “accented cinema,” which provides a
stylistic frame for personal and aesthetic concerns of exilic and diasporic filmmakers
whose creative work is a form of social practice through which they seek to have dialogue
with their respective cultures. From this perspective, my work is focused on both the
narrative and the discourse – the “what” of a story and the “way” it is told through film
language. Particularly, I am interested in pushing the boundaries of cinematic conventions
by incorporating non-verbal storytelling forms.
My recent film Happy Republic is set in the pseudo democratic republic of Usyria where
the lives of its citizens are being subjected to a brand of soft tyranny. The main character’s
psychological dilemma lies in the fact that she is simultaneously an agent of the system
but incapable of adjusting to its inverted moral codes. Happy Republic reflects a
contemporary world where democratic ideals are in decline and various forms of tyranny
are rising to the surface. In conceiving this work, I was inspired by the urban landscape of
Syracuse in central New York where the film was shot. The city’s neglected yet beautiful
old buildings and factories evoke a haunting and melancholic mood reminiscent of fallen
cities of the ancient world.