Caveh Zahedi is an American filmmaker, with a decades-spanning career defined by his confessional, provocative approach. Zahedi himself is the thread that connects all of his work: he is both the author and the subject of his various projects. If that sounds profoundly narcissistic, it most definitely is, but Zahedi’s dedication to baring his soul on screen is as captivating as it is unnerving.
Zahedi’s oeuvre seems very zeitgeisty, incorporating aspects of vlogging, reality television, and the kind of auteurist comedic non-fiction style that earned Nathan Fielder and John Wilson critical acclaim. Anyone who enjoyed the morally dubious experiments conducted by Fielder in The Rehearsal will likely get a lot out of Zahedi’s work. Both filmmakers share an interest in how the presence of the camera impacts human behaviour, and both explore the role of the director-as-god within their own constructed universe.
Comedy is a crucial tool in Zahedi’s arsenal, making the more troubling aspects of his films infinitely more palatable. Zahedi’s self-obsession doesn’t stop at presenting a sanitised version of himself, instead, he seems driven by a desire to completely unravel himself before his audience, showcasing his darkest characteristics with an honesty that even his harshest critics would have to commend. The most potent example comes in I Am a Sex Addict - a staggeringly unflinching examination of Zahedi’s “prostitute fetish”.
In allowing himself to be completely open onscreen, Zahedi’s work holds a mirror to the audience. Although you might recoil at times, the bracingly forthright perspective forces an uneasy introspection. There’s ultimately a bit of Zahedi in all of us, but nobody’s doing it quite like him.