Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi

Title: The Day I Disappeared
Original Title: Roozi ke man napadid shodam
Written, directed and produced by Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi
Cast: Helia Bandeh, Fatemeh Izadi
Camera: Saeed Pooresmaili,
Sound edit: Huibert Boon
Edit: Albert Eling
Duration: 61:00
Format: HD video
Language: Persian
Subtitles: English
Production date: finalised 2011
Production country: Netherlands
Acknowledgements: The Netherlands Film Fund, Filmfonds
The Netherlands Fund for visuals arts, design and architecture, Fonds BKVB

The Day I Disappeared is a poetic journey through the contemplations of a former refugee, It consists of an interior monologue detailing how she became a stranger: her farewell to her family, her trip through Europe, her arrival in a land completely unknown to her and the transformation of her identity.

Immigration, moving, replacement, growing up, transformation, all needs some adjusting. In this story it becomes an adjustment in all the aspects of one’s life: a change of meaning of an identity, a space in-between; in-between fiction and reality, in-between this world and that world, in-between memories and facts, and in-between past and present.

International Film Festival Rotterdam:
A personal film essay about immigration, seen through the eyes of a refugee: about what it’s like to be a foreigner in a strange country, about loneliness, homesickness and doubt.

The Day I Disappeared is a film essay partly based on the personal story of the filmmaker, who fled from Iran and travelled through what was a completely new and unknown world for her: Europe.

It is also an effort to shed light on an internal process of alienation, an individualisation of the term ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum-seeker’. The unconventional narrative uses the patterns of Persian poetry, with visual metaphors and rhymes and rhythms between the scenes. A lot of the material is found 16mm and 8mm footage that mirrors the director’s memories of her own trip through Europe more than twenty years ago. The images of the main character’s dance also reflect on the alienation of the individual. The combination of all these creative approaches evokes a special world between reality and fairytale.

Programmer Note by Ludmila Cvikova:
Nowadays, the modern world is full of ‘refugees’ or ‘asylum-seekers’, or just emigrants or immigrants – let’s say the modern world lets us all move freely over our planet and choose where we want to live.

Sometimes this move goes smoothly, sometimes hand-in-hand with hardship, depending from which part of the world one wants to move (or what kind of passport one possesses). Nevertheless, I think that all these migrants have one thing in common: they take their culture, their youth and their memories with them.

Even though Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi’s film essay is highly personal, it crosses those personal borders at the same time, and with its philosophical approach to the subject can reach thousands of migrants with the same or similar dilemmas. Because people all start to think about their identity once they have exchanged the place they were born for a foreign land. Who am I, why am I here, who are these people surrounding me and who am I in the context of my new country? What should I do with ‘my original me’?
This is what makes this film so special. And the message is even stronger when placed in its political context.

Dok Leipzig Programmer Note:
On her opening sequence the Iranian filmmaker Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi depicts a picturesque landscape full of almond blossom trees, a cut barbed-wire fence drifting in the wind and a dreary backyard in some anonymous city – the chronological stations of her escape from Tehran to Europe. Kept together by a hubbub of childhood memories, letters and an interior monologue, these snapshots are the starting point of an overflowing essay which increasingly moves away from real events to depict soul landscapes that are all about foreignness. Ghiasabadi’s story is both shared by many and her very own odyssey, a term which does not just refer to the illegal and dangerous journey from one continent to the other. Emigration is not about arrival, but about farewell. Wistfully she reconstructs every step that leads to alienation – from her family, her language and her culture. The West has another word for it: exotic. She, the foreigner, can now only be identified by her fingerprint. Ghiasabadi pulls out all the stops as she turns this very private narrative into cinematic entertainment: she stages, invents an alter ego, uses surprising metaphors and spares no poetry to make her reflections manifest.

Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi (1968 Tehran) is visual artist/ filmmaker based in Amsterdam. She studied at Minerva academy (BA in painting) followed by post (MFA in video/film) at Sandberg institute. She started to make films in 2006 and her first two short films were part of the official selection at IDFA 2006 and 2008. Her first Long film The Day Disappeared was part of the 2011 selection of International film festival Rotterdam and other international film festivals.

She has also been member of the advice commission of the Visual Arts Design and Architecture Fund, Fonds BKVB since 2003. Currently she is teaching at Rietveld Academy.
Detail biography at

Filmography Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi
Ant’s I view 20 min 2001 experimental
My own 1000 square meters 14 min 2006
12 days of waiting 20 min 2008
The Day I Disappeared 61 min 2011