Dr Kaveh Abbasian

Lecturer in Film and Media Practice,
Recruitment and Admissions Lead, Film
Dr Kaveh Abbasian


Dr Kaveh Abbasian is an award-winning scholar and filmmaker. He completed his MA in Documentary Practices at the University of Roehampton, where in 2019, he also completed his PhD in Film and Television Studies on a project titled Chronicle of Triumph: Iranian National Identity and Revolutionary Shi'ism in Morteza Avini's Sacred Defence Documentaries. Kaveh has received several awards for his academic achievements. These include the University of Roehampton MA Scholarship, Techne AHRC PhD Scholarship, and the AHRC International Placement Scheme award resulting in a fellowship at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress in 2016.

Kaveh is a practising filmmaker with a focus on documentaries and essay films. His most recent feature-length film, Triumph (2021), is an essay documentary about the contrasting narratives of the contemporary history of Iran since the 1979 Revolution. Apart from his own films, he has worked on numerous other projects as cinematographer and editor. His works have been screened in many film festivals and exhibitions worldwide, such as the Venice Biennale, Havana International Film Festival, and London East End Film Festival. He is also the former director of programming for the London Kurdish Film Festival and has acted as the Jury President for the documentary category of the Global Kurdish Film Festival 2021. 

Research interests

During his PhD studies, Kaveh developed a practice-based approach to his research into the role of audio-visual media in hegemonising the rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). This project included an audio-visual study of the Islamic and national ideologies that formed the post-revolutionary Islamic-Iranian exceptionalism that has become a characteristic of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since then, his research has spanned into a study of the influence of Islamic mysticism and revolutionary Shi'ism on local attempts at developing an Islamic film theory. This study has informed his forthcoming journal article titled 'Illuminationist Cinema': How Islamic Mysticism inspired Morteza Avini's 'Sacred Defence' Documentaries of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and his Attempt at constructing a Film Theory. He has also developed an interest in a new wave of so-called Sacred Defence films made in Iran. He has published several articles on this topic and continues to further investigate the place of these cultural productions in Iran's power structure. 

Kaveh's research extends to Kurdish cinema. His forthcoming book chapter, No Friend but the Camera: Kurdish Cinema as a Site of Collective Consciousness, is a study of Kurdish films from their native lands in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, as well as films made by the Kurdish diasporic communities. He is also interested in guerrilla/zero-budget filmmaking, especially films made by marginalised and underrepresented communities, and the role of filmmaking as an act of reclaiming agency. His forthcoming book chapter Refugee Filmmaking: Finding Agency Through the Lens is an exploration of a new wave of films made by refugees with basic equipment under challenging conditions. 


Refugee Filmmaking; Kurdish Cinema; Iranian Cinema; Guerrilla/Zero-Budget Filmmaking; Activist Filmmaking; Shi'i Islam in Cinema; Islamic Mysticism in Cinema, Sacred Defence Film and Television, War Films, Accented Cinema, Diasporic Filmmaking, Cinema of the Middle East, National Identity; Nationalism; Critique of Ideology; Propaganda, Decolonisation


Prior to his appointment at the University of Kent, Kaveh designed, convened, and taught on various Film modules at Birkbeck, University of London and University of Roehampton. They included modules on film history, theory, and practice with titles such as Alternative Film Cultures, Thinking with Images, Reflections on Film Craft, Audio-Visual Criticism, Filmmaking Portfolio, Production Practices, Forms of Documentary, Ideas into Film, and Working with Film Sound. 

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