USA: Two Iranian filmmakers find a venue at Sundance to shine light on their compelling storiesRecord ID: 313645
- Title: USA: Two Iranian filmmakers find a venue at Sundance to shine light on their compelling stories
- Date: 27th January 2011
- Summary: PARK CITY, UTAH, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 23, 2011) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARYAM KESHAVARZ, DIRECTOR, SAYING: "In terms of making the film, yes, it was difficult because it deals with a lot of issues that haven't been dealt with in Iran before. Like looking at sexuality, religion, fanaticism, obsession and it was not able to be shot in Iran because I wanted to show authentic visions. So, I had to shoot outside of Iran in Lebanon."
- Reuters ID: LVA1CWP2OIXAQ62MP7QR36KXS3MA
- Location: Usa, Usa
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:00:26
- Story Text: Every year, Robert Redford stresses the need for the Sundance Film Festival to expand its boundaries to offer a venue for voices and films from all over the world. This year is no exception as two movies shed light on the social and political issues in Iran.
One, "The Green Wave," is a powerful documentary about the political turmoil before, during and after the 2009 elections; the second is "Circumstance," a coming of age drama of two girls exploring friendship and sexual attraction. Both topics are ones heavily suppressed by the Iranian government.
Filmmaker Ali Samadi Adhadi's "The Green Wave" is titled after the so called "Green Wave" explosion that offered up hopes of a youthful challenge to the status quo.
"In the moment we decided we need a change. They went to vote and when the alternative disappeared because the government started to cheat, they asked a very simple question, 'Where is my vote?' And the answer was bullets and after a while the next very simple question came up, 'Why are you shooting at us, because we ask for our fundamental rights," explained Adhadi.
The writer/director, who lives in Germany, constructed the film with animation, video posts, Facebook and Twitter messages The story relies on thousands of real entries in Iranian blogs, credited to two fictional students for the dramatic purposes of the film, whose hopes, fears and experiences with terror at the hands of government security thugs filter through the movie. Poor quality videos from YouTube and the like give the movie its crowd scenes and sequences of brutal violence.
Interviews with the likes of Nobel laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Shiite cleric Dr. Mohsen and former UN war crimes prosecutor Dr. Payam Akhavan fill in the political details and lay out a range of charges against a regime that had to steal an election to retain power.
For Ahadi, telling this story was a risky idea.
"Well, we had a big team because we had lots of animation in the film and most of them are originally Iranians," explained Adhadi. "All of them knew when we decided to make the film that they knew that they were not going to be able to go back to Iran again, under this regime. It was a high price to pay for that film."
"Circumstance," directed by American-born Maryam Keshavarz, is a dramatic movie that looks at a liberal, well-to-do family in Tehran, and in particular 16-year-old Atafeh and her less privileged friend Shireen, whose parents were likely executed as dissidents. As with most girls their age, they are testing the bonds of friendship and their sexual attraction for each other, made even more complicated by a repressive society that has little regard for women. They act out their rebellion by taking drugs and partying in hip-looking underground clubs, but their only real escape is through their imagination.
Drawing on some of her own experiences, Keshavarz tells a story that shows a side of Iranian people that rarely is seen.
"I think it reflects very much, from my perspective, the truth of young Iranians and their struggle and incredible strength," said Keshavarz. "So, it will probably not be looked on this favorable because it shows the bizillions of young people and their ability to get around or the desires to get around the restrictions and the way the find ways to express themselves. No matter what."
Having grown up in the U.S. and Iran, she is able to look at the culture from the inside and has a keen eye for the telling image or subtle gesture. In one striking scene at the seaside, she frames a group of men lounging in bathing suits seated next to women in their black hijabs. On the other hand, scenes of the girls buoyantly bounding down the street and partying in the clubs are shot in saturated colors, contrasting with the drabness of everyday life.
For obvious reasons, Keshavarz shot the film in Lebanon, and even there she had to stretch the bounds of what was acceptable
"In terms of making the film, yes, it was difficult because it deals with a lot of issues that haven't been dealt with in Iran before. Like looking at sexuality, religion, fanaticism, obsession and it was not able to be shot in Iran because I wanted to show authentic visions. So, I had to shoot outside of Iran in Lebanon."
"Circumstance" is entered in the US Dramatic category and "The Green Wave" is competing in the World Cinema Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival. Winners of both categories will be announced on January 30.
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