On Saturday, March 13, 2021, the world of documentary filmmakers lost one of their best. After ten months, Montreal-based Iranian Canadian Shahin Parhami lost his short battle to leukemia and left all his admirers behind.

Shahin was born in Shiraz, Iran, in 1967 and migrated to Canada in 1988. He studied film at Carleton University in Ottawa and later earned his BFA degree in Film Production from Concordia University in Montreal. As an independent artist, he carved out a niche in the world of creative documentary cinema, constructing lyrical visuals on-screen while challenging mainstream imaginaries about Iranian society and diasporic communities.

Throughout his career, Parhami pushed the boundaries of cinematic language, starting with his early trilogy of Nasoot (1997), Lahoot (1998), and Jabaroot (2003), to his latest endeavour, Marcel (2021). His poetic cinema highlights the work of artists engaged in mediums like music, acting, sculpture, painting, choreography, and literature. Shahrzaad’s Tale (2015), about an iconic star of popular Iranian cinema, and Amin (2010), which chronicles the struggles of a Qashqai violinist to preserve his community’s musical traditions, were both nominated for Best Feature Documentary at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the “Asian Oscars.” Amin also won awards at Yamagata International Documentary Festival, Taiwan Film Festival, and Dubai Film Festival. Parhami’s Faces (2007) focuses on ten accomplished Iranian Canadian artists, for which he received the Best Feature Film award at FLEXIFF (2007) in Sydney, Australia. His last film, Marcel (2021), to be released posthumous, centers on the art and the life of Marcel Braitstein, a prominent Canadian sculptor.

Film scholars and critics have received Parhami’s work favourably. Variety praised Amin as “a beautifully crafted portrait,” and Maggie Haberman of the Hollywood Reporter characterized it as a “heartfelt documentary.” Film scholar Peter Rist (2011) has noted Parhami’s formalist innovations and “the challenging, experimental approach to film form that he consistently adopts,” while Donato Torato (2016) observes that his style underscores “a poetic treatment of history and the loss associated with the past.”

In addition to filmmaking, Parhami’s talents extended to photography, poetry, drawing and painting, composing music, and playing guitar. He once stated that cinema was the perfect métier for him since it allowed him to combine his creative interests.

His films are available for digital streaming through the Diaspora Film Festival website from December 10 to 14, 2022.


NASOOT (1997)



LAHOOT (1998)



AMNESIA (2002)






FACES (2008)



AMIN (2010)



Shahrzaad’s Tale (2015)