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Neshan 28

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Time, Space, Time
Pouya Ahmadi's posters for Experimental Film Society
Kambiz Shafei

The Experimental Film Society (EFS) is an independent, not-for-profit entity, specializing in experimental, self-initiated and no/low budget filmmaking. Founded in 2000 in Tehran, Iran, its aim is to produce and promote films by its members. It unites works from a dozen filmmakers scattered across the globe, whose films are distinguished by an uncompromising devotion to personal and experimental cinema, regardless of budget. Among the members we come across names such as Dean Kavanagh, Jann Clavadetscher, Mohammad Nick Dell and Rouzbeh Rashidi, who is also the founder of the Society.

Aside from cinema and filmmaking, what distinguishes the works of EFS are the promotional posters that invite viewers to watch these films. The posters are designed by Pouya Ahmadi who is also a member of the Society. Born in 1984 in Tehran, Pouya has studied visual communication at Tehran University of Fine Arts and The Basel School of Design, FHNW/HGK. What distinguishes Pouya from other Iranian designers of his generation is his fascination with cinema and his knowledge of this media. In his interest and dedication, he has focused his master thesis to this topic, and in his research, he investigates what draws the line between moving and still images. This is what makes Pouya successful when it comes to creating film posters. As well as the logo for EFS, Pouya has designed ten posters for the Society so far, most which are designed for Rouzbeh Rashidi's films.
Set in English, the posters are printed using at most two colors. In almost all of these layouts, the texts of the film titles are combined with still images from the films. In some, the text and images are set in two different layers, and on others, the juxtaposition of the two creates a third image. By designing these posters, Pouya deepens his typographic experiments without any restrictions. He challenges the readability of text in order to interpret the films into the medium of the poster. (Light and Quiet, 2008)
We can categorize his use of type into two different groups. The first consists of custom-designed or redesigned letterforms, while in the second group typefaces remain untouched. Here, typesetting is the main tool for Pouya to create these compositions. In general, texts on these posters are spread in a way that several layers are created, each of which conveys different information depending on the viewer’s distance form the poster. Text is always set on horizontal lines and the designer's use of simple geometric forms creates a unique visual language.

We can see the influence of today’s Swiss typography and the school of Basel on Pouya, through his use of simple geometric forms, diagonal lines and diagonal typographic treatments. Since colors, images and fonts always vary from one poster to another, at first glance it is not apparent that they belong to one series. As a result of these changes, the designer is able to widen his experimentations and prevent repetition; he seeks a visual language rather than making a series of repetitive designs.
Only Human - Rouzbeh Rashidi - 2008, is perhaps one of the more successful posters in this series. By separating the image of 'humans' from the context of their daily lives, they become the center of attention. The combination of these images with triangular forms could be seen as a metaphor for people’s conditions in this world and the oppressions that dominate their daily lives.
Another successful poster in this series is Closure of Catharsis - Rouzbeh Rashidi - 2011. This film does not have a linear story. "A man (James Devereaux) sits on a park bench talking to the camera, trying to weave together a thought that won't cohere while commenting on passers-by, his 'guests'... Mysterious images intervene, overturning the serenity of the park-bench monologue. Rouzbeh Rashidi's new feature proves as engaging as it is elusive."* The way Pouya selected and composed the images in this poster brings out a confusion of time and space. These memory-like images pass in front of our eyes and they repeat the nonlinear structure of the film; they represent the same deconstruction that is seen in the film itself.
Pouya has chosen a metaphoric and indirect approach in his designs. The posters are continuations of the films rather than means of promotion. This fact enables him to break away from clichés when it comes to designing film posters.

EFS posters were awarded a Certificate of Typographic Excellence by the Type Directors Club (TDC) New York this year.