Off-Centre works to change the world through storytelling. When a story can’t be told through film, animation or an article, we find a different way to tell it.
In 2002, the Betty Nansen Theater in Denmark commissioned Off-Centre’s founder, Maziar Bahari, to re-interpret the classic Arabian Nights for the stage. The play was a great success and went on tour in the UK in 2004.
In 2005, Off-Centre organized Drumming for Heroes of Burundi, a tour that celebrated the Hutus and Tutsis who helped each other during the early 1990s Burundi genocide. The tour was taken to Rwanda, DR Congo and Burundi in 2007.
More recently, our special projects have included concerts in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco as part of the Education Is Not A Crime project, an in-depth study of post-traumatic stress disorder among Iranian journalists, and series of multimedia projects exploring different human rights issues in Iran and beyond.
In 2016, we worked with the legendary Magnum photo agency to produce an unprecedented website for the Iranian-French photographer Abbas. The site, called Abbas and Revolution, offered an unrivalled look at Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Abbas is a Magnum photographer so renowned that he’s dispensed with his own surname. His photojournalism of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution captured some of the defining images of the Revolution – as well as images from his later trips to the Islamic Republic. Off-Centre’s unprecedented retrospective, Abbas.site, including interviews with Abbas and unique access to his contact sheets, is not only a remarkable historical archive but a powerful case study for aspiring and professional photographers.
Investigating PTSD among Iranian Journalists
Anthony Feinstein, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, has for over 15 years pioneered the study of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among war correspondents and other journalists. Off-Centre partnered with him in 2014 to study PTSD among Iranian journalists – with astonishing results. Working in a politically repressive environment, where censorship and harassment of reporters are the norm, causes emotional damage to journalists even without conflict or imprisonment. The study led to the creation of psychological support tools which we make available to Iranian journalists via IranWire.
Iran and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Iran signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – a major UN treaty designed to protect the rights of people around the world – in 1968 and in 1975 its parliament ratified the covenant. But the Iranian government has implemented few new laws related to the treaty. Many Off-Centre projects, whether the IranWire news site, the Education Is Not A Crime campaign, or other initiatives, are designed to press Iran’s government to respect its international obligations by respecting the political, civil and human rights of all its citizens.
EDUCATION IS NOT A CRIME LIVE 2015
The Education Is Not A Crime campaign, on the persecuted Baha’i religious minority of Iran, began with almost 300 screenings of Maziar Bahari’s documentary To Light a Candle. The campaign’s first year culminated in an outstanding night of music and stories at the Ace Theatre in Los Angeles, in February 2015, featuring actor Rainn Wilson, pop star Andy Grammer, KC Porter, Ozomatli, Maziar Bahari, and many others, including a number of personal stories shared by Iranian Baha’is.
Saeid Shanbehzadeh and ensemble live 2016
The outstanding music of Saeid Shanbehzadeh, a master of the folk Afro-Iranian musical tradition of southern Iran, was joined up with Baluchi song and American jazz in September 2016 at New York’s historic Apollo Theatre in Harlem for the second Education Is Not A Crime musical event. Shanbehzadeh’s personal activism on the issue of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, and the campaign’s Harlem focus, made the night a unique melding of Iranian, Baluchi, African and American traditions for the sake of human rights and education equality for all.