Iran plane crash: How an arts organization is helping to 'bring humanity to the forefront' following tragedy

Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Babak Payami discusses how the Tirgan Festival is memorializing its eight volunteers who lost their lives on Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752.
Nearly 3,000 people gathered at the University of Toronto this past weekend to remember the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752. The event was organized by the Tirgan Festival. (Yousef Kashefifar/Facebook)

One week ago, Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down. As new information continues to come in, Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Babak Payami continues to grieve with his community. Payami is the artistic director for the Tirgan Festival, an Iranian-Canadian arts organization that lost eight volunteers in the tragedy.

"It is devastating," he tells q's Tom Power. "We cannot put it in words, the plight of the families and what has happened. This has hit very close to home with the Tirgan family."

Payami talks about the role that art and artists have when it comes to tragedies like this, and how it can help the healing process. 

"I don't think art can change the world, but we're more or less like canaries in the mine when the air gets poisonous," he says. "We get uncomfortable and maybe by reflecting our emotions, by expressing our emotions and reflecting what we sense in the circumstances and the situations, on the one hand, we might help to to focus the message, the human message that exists in tragedies like this."

Art, he says, can help to "bring humanity to the forefront" by cutting through "the ugly political dynamics that sometimes overpower these kinds of tragedies."

Payami also talked about how the festival is memorializing their friends and how art has helped him work through his own grief.

Click the 'Listen' link near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

— Produced by ​Vanessa Greco

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