Outline/Treatment


SEQUENCE I: MAJOR THEMES

“Art, Beauty, Music and God - The Story of Nasta’liq” opens with a short live action sequence of Nasta’liq calligraphy as it appears across a computer screen in real time, the ancient Persian script mixed with the most modern of devices, as a graphic artist works in his studio. He transfers the script to a silk screen, applies color, creates a poster for a modern cause or event, in the ancient script updated to a modern idiom. The live action continues throughout the sequence, intercut with relevant visuals.

As he works, he or a NARRATOR speaks voice over to introduce Nasta’liq as the 12th century Persian calligraphy, still very much alive today.

As the NARRATOR continues, we see live-action and/or still photos that match the content. There is an ancient manuscript, inscriptions on a mosque, a modern work of art, billboards in Tehran advertising products, signs in a marketplace, and live action of a calligrapher deep in his practice, all in Nasta’liq:

The sequence ends with teenagers painting Nasta’liq graffiti on the walls of a building in downtown Tehran.

Then returns to the GRAPHIC ARTIST IN HIS STUDIO.

HOLD ON the digital image on the computer screen, then CUT TO:


SEQUENCE II: HISTORY PART I

Heading: The Beginning

VOICE OVER NARRATION intercut with relevant images and INTERVIEW(S) WITH EXPERTS.

A MAP of the Middle East illustrates the regions known for different styles and scripts of Islamic calligraphy that have developed over the centuries, as the NARRATOR very briefly describes them. Images cut from the map to early examples on Mosques and manuscripts.

Here different types of Islamic calligraphy might briefly appear, but since this is a film on Nasta’liq, they should only appear to give a sense of the history.

As the NARRATOR finishes VOICE-OVER, the film might CUT TO a live-action scene of an American calligraphy class, the instructor leading students in copying a poem by the 14th century Persian poet Hafez. He recites the poem in English, discusses how different letters of Nasta’liq are formed, tells them his philosophy of calligraphy, and watches as they work. Some of this might be the instructor’s voice, some of it a voice-over narrator, as appropriate.

We return to the CALLIGRAPHY CLASS as STUDENTS take a coffee break, discuss each other’s work, share more Hafez poems, visit, then CUT TO:


SEQUENCE II - HISTORY - PART II

Heading: The Bride of Scripts

The EXPERT OR NARRATOR speaks: “From the 14th to the 16th centuries, the Persian style of calligraphy known as Nasta’liq evolved to essentially what it is today, in a development that favored form over content. Over this period, you have the evolution of a script that is used for writing poetry or the Qur’an to something that becomes part of the Persian identity. By the 16th century it has become a vehicle for calligraphic expressiveness, where the aesthetics of the script is as important as the content.

Pertinent images are intercut as relevant, as the expert or narrator comments on each.

(The narrator or expert continues, showing and discussing some of the best examples.)


SEQUENCE III - NASTA’LIQ AND THE MODERN AGE

Heading: A Revolution

CUT TO NASTA’LIQ ON THE GRAPHIC ARTIST’S COMPUTER SCREEN AGAIN, as the NARRATOR continues voice over and other images also come in: an early Persian printing press, Na'skh script in comparison to Nasta’liq, and later, examples of the art that is discussed.

Some of the artists highlighted might include Shirin Neshat, Parviz Tanavoli, Pouran Jinchi, and others. They can be introduced voice-over with images of their work, or covered in short, live-action studio visits. All should be chosen to see the wide variety of modern art that incorporates Nasta’liq.


SEQUENCE IV: NASTA’LIQ, MUSIC AND GOD

Heading: The Tradition Remains

We watch as a master calligrapher works quietly in his studio at his daily ritual: carving his pens, preparing his ink, beginning his manuscript, much as his predecessors have done for a thousand years.

As he works, he explains his daily preparation, the formation of the letters and their relation to God, the connection of music and calligraphy, and the spirituality of his practice. He begins to tell a story, and as he does, the live-action might fade to a re-created, black-and-white scene of what he describes, or we can stay with the calligrapher.


END SEQUENCE:

As credits roll, there should be a quick montage of images from the film, short modern videos and animations, Persian artwork intercut with ancient manuscripts, Nasta’liq engraved in mosques and on the streets of Tehran, set against Persian music--a restatement of the first sequence and all the ways that Nasta’liq is embedded in the culture of Iran.