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Documentaries & Non-Fiction Series

Directors Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder Preview Their HBO Doc “A Revolution on Canvas” 

Directors Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder Preview Their HBO Doc “A Revolution on Canvas”

Although it might sound strange to call this documentary about art a political thriller, that description is exactly right. Nickzad “Nicky” Nodjoumi‘s art is a powerful framing device for the story, but it all starts because of political unrest in his native Iran and his pro-democracy activism in the 1970s. As part of a movement to oust the Shah, Nicky soon realizes his hope for a new Iran is in direct opposition to the ascendance of an authoritarian regime. Always a provocative artist, his paintings depicting the new Islamic power brokers are quickly seized. Accused of being a traitor, Nicky is urged to flee the country.

But what happened to the art he made as a young man in Iran? Rumored to be destroyed by radical Islamists, Nicky sets out to discover the truth. If his art it still in the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art — which is rumored to house art worth billions of dollars by Western artists such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Salvador Dali — Nicky intends to get it back. Not only is this a dangerous undertaking for Nicky and his family, but anyone found helping them — inside or outside of Iran — could also be in grave danger.

As directors Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder delve deeper into Nicky’s story, we examine the trauma of how losing his country and losing a part of himself still resonates today. In addition to that, we also see how deeply Nicky’s plight affected his wife, artist Nahid Hagigat, and his daughter Sara, who was born in the US. Ultimately, this isn’t really a story about whether or not Nicky will get his art back. This is a story about a man who rebels against oppression. This is a story about the hope Nicky and many Iranians have for a better future.


I had the chance to speak exclusively to directors Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder about the film. Not only does the audience get a brief but intense history lesson (for those who aren’t familiar), but we get a deeper insight into Nicky’s motivations, the sacrifices made by both him and his family, how they’re hopeful for change after Masha Amini‘s death, and how people should have empathy for other people’s stories.

A Revolution on Canvas premieres Tuesday, March 5th at 9pm ET/PT on HBO and will stream on MAX.

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