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Khabar Online interview with the acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi

In a poll conducted by Khabar Online addressing its users, the film director Asghar Farhadi was selected as the film personality of the last Iranian year (1389, ended on March 20) mostly owing to the huge success of his recent film 'Nader and Simin: A Separation'  

The new film of Farhadi is centered on the story of Simin, a middle class Iranian woman who wants to leave the country, taking her husband Nader and their young daughter in the hope of a better life. Nader refuses to leave simply because wants to care for his old father who is suffering from Alzheimer, as a result a dispute ensues which ends up in a family court.  

'Nader and Simin' lighted up the competition section of the last Berlin Film Festival. The film was praised both by the viewers and critics at Berlinale and won the coveted Golden Bear of the festival as the best film. Farhadi had earlier garnered the Silver Bear of the best director in 2009 for his 'About Elly'. Moreover, at the 29th Fajr Film Festival 'Nader and Simin' won the best director, screenplay and photography awards. 

The relationship of Farhadi with the officials of Iranian cinema has been somehow strained. In his remarks at Iranian House of Cinema he expressed his hope that some Iranian filmmakers who have settled outside the country including Amir Naderi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Bahram Beizayi could come back to Iran and follow their career in the country. He also defended the artistic status of Ja'far Panahi and the actress Golshifteh Farahani  

But his non-political comments infuriated the officials of cinema affairs deputy of Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance who nullified the written shooting permission of 'Nader and Simin' which was on the production stage at that time. Later Farhadi said that his remarks were misinterpreted, on the other hand Javad Shamaqdari deputy culture minister for cinematic affairs claimed Farhadi has apologized for his remarks and the ban on the film's production was lifted.  

Begining his film career in early 2000, Asghar Farhadi is currently enjoying glorious days. In the years when a shortage in the emergence of new promising talents in various fields of arts in Iran has turned to a real concern, he and his films have partly removed such concern and have created a hopeful prospect for Iranian cinema, even for a time when 41 years old Farhadi won't be that much young.  

At a competition with the celebrated figures including Shahab Hosseini (actor), Hamid Farokhnejad (actor), Masoud Kimiaiyi (film director)   and officials of Iranian cinema, you received the most votes from the users of Khabar Online as the film personality of 1389. Definitely those who chose you have their own reasons. What are these reasons in your view? 

It's not easy to answer. However it's better not to use the word "competition" since those figures you mentioned their names are my close friends and/or dexterous colleagues and there's no competition in our midst. One may guess that what happened in the midway of making my film [a dispute with the cinema affairs deputy of Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance] has been inscribed in the minds of our film fans and caused them to pick me. 

Seemingly Mr. [Abbas] Kiarostami played a key role in making up your mind at that time, saying it's better to think about your film above all other issues. 

There's a little misunderstanding about the issue. Mr. Kiarostami did not address me directly, however he was the first one who responded to that event and here I appreciate his remark. 

Through your works, we have discovered a fairly young director who has changed the climate of Iranian cinema and created new hopes for the future. How do you see such views toward your work? 

I have tried not to be seduced by the outward image created of me. Such image is not the same with that I think of myself. I'm not saying this out of modesty. I have a very caustic view of myself. I mostly think about my inabilities and shortcomings. 

Due to being admired by critics, a number of Iranian filmmakers were put on spotlight. But later the critics changed their views toward the works of some of those directors. Although your films have been extolled by many critics, you didn't rely upon such admirations. Have you ever been concerned for a possible conflict between yourself and the Iranian critics? 

My sole concern is to make good films. I simply feel dutiful to make them. If a director makes a good film, he won't need to worry. Even if at a moment his work does not appeal to the others, it can find its status in a long term. No good film will be forgotten in the history of cinema. It may be neglected at the outset, but it will be cherished even in several years later. On the contrary, there are many films which gain the attention of critics and people, but will be forgotten in the course of time. 

For this reason I feel dutiful to make good films and concern for making films which I believe to in proportion with my ability. The other issues will be resolved. It's wrong to try to get the favor of the critics in any other way except making good films since otherwise the relationship remains fragile and would be lost after a while. But if you get close to the audience whether ordinary viewers or film critics, the relationship will be stable and won't be damaged. 

How do you define the boundaries? In making a film you keep staying away from your family, ignore looks from outside to your work including those of the critics and simply focus on your work. All these just bring one word to our mind: concentration. Asghar Farhadi seems to be a very concentrated man.  

My concentration is simply limited to the area of my work. In terms of some other things, I 'm somehow absent-minded. For example in driving, I take the wrong way at times. Scrupulousness about work comes from my family childhood and. If I cross out a word in a text I 'm writing, It won't be continued to the end. I have to rewrite it to avoid crossing a thing out. It's one of my personal characteristics. 

 Whenever I shoot a scene, write a sentence or dialogue, I think to myself that it means to last.  So do it in the best possible way, because then you won't be able to turn back and correct that. If we bear this in mind we won't act dispassionately. We must know that the moment of creation is a pure and precious moment which should be utilized in the best possible manner. 

If we tend to say that Asghar Farhadi has been intrinsically a filmmaker, perhaps the process of his step by step artistic growth is neglected, but it is intensely felt that you have natural talent for making films.

Both are correct. Definitely there were some potential which have led me to learn filmmaking. Natural talent and the growth of such talent complement each other. If one of them does not exist, the other will not be objectified to lead you to the path of creation. 

As a person who was curious to cinema from childhood you have followed the works of various filmmakers. Whose works have appealed more to you?  

My favorites were different from time to time. As a young adult earlier than I became fond of cinema I was so interested in literature. At university I studied dramatic literature. The years of my early youth were passed by reading great Iranian novels. The social observation attributed to my works comes from that period of my life. Reading the works of Dolat Abadi [Mahmoud], Choubak [Sadeq] and Sa'edi [Gholam Hossein] was my preoccupation from early youth by 18. 

 Of course, in the meantime I was watching movies. In terms of cinema I watched whatever Iranian film which I thought you was good to see. In various times, the works of different filmmakers were significant for me. For example at a time the films of Mr. Taghvayi [Naser] were my favorites and still are, in the other period the works of Mr. Mehrjuyi [Darrioush], and Mr. Farman Ara [Bahman] were the focus of my attention. 

With such morale, don't you face a problem in working with a director of photography like Mahmoud Kalari who has the years of working experience in his career? 

After several years of working in theater, cinema and TV in terms of morale I have found no person closer to me than Mahmoud Kalari. We are so similar to each other. Having no problem at work, we enjoy associating with each other as well. When a crew is selected to produce a film and the members of the crew feel that the director does not stand above but is beside them, they will enjoy the job much more. 

Many actors are interested in playing a role in your films, how do you see the issue? 

They certainly know that they are selected because they are close to a character in my film. If they are not picked, it doesn't mean that they are not good but simply are not matched to a character. In the process of selecting the actors, I once again review the works and personality of all actors whether I cooperated with them earlier or not. 

How do you make a balance between your preoccupations with the expectations of the audience, critics and film professionals? Do you ignore them and try to do what you think is the best or make a compromise?  

It can't be said that I ignore such views. I am exposed to all these issues and it will be a kind of secrecy to say I don't pay attention to them and follow my own path. Consciously or unconsciously you are influenced by all these issues. But if your preoccupations are not subordinated to the image created by the others, you will emerge unscathed. 

 I'm not a person who enjoys too much after getting a success. I don't mean that the awards are worthless for me, but I don't remain pleased with a success for a long time. On the other hand, the most enjoyable time is when the members of my crew get together. The pleasure you receive at the time of writing a screenplay and begin to shoot for example a film like 'Nader and Simin' is not comparable with those of the events which occur later.

At the production stage I was telling the guys try to take the best out of these moments, since these are the best parts of our life. Naturally I'm delighted when hear a prize is going to be awarded to me, but such a sense persists just for some hours.

کد خبر 140822

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