Interview by Aindrila Chatterjee
CULT CRITIC: You said that you have always been looking for complex and unclear concepts in life. so how does that concept came to your mind? and how you applied that in your works?
Everyone’s life from birth to death has many ups and downs, which will affect their personality. But these effects will be different for a person facing the problem of disability at a young age and in a country with a very old culture and sometimes mistaken views, especially in a community where urban space has little required infrastructure for wheelchairs.
When I faced disability of both legs in childhood, I had to do almost all my social activities, including studying, at home, and because I had no siblings of nearly the same age, I had to amuse myself with storybooks, movies, and TV programs, which made me turn to the world of imagination.
I have always wondered what the difference is between what we know about ourselves and what others think of us, how we pass life and change over time, and what will happen to us after death. Long living in such a personal world gave me a philosophical perspective on the universe and made me look for inner meanings in every phenomenon.
But if you ask me how I apply this view in my film stories, I can simply answer that I really don’t know. In fact, stories are inspired to me in this way, and this is the way I see the world, a world full of meaning, complexity and, of course, joy and sadness.
CULT CRITIC: How does the passion for cinema grow within?
As I explained earlier, disability made me housebound so that I had to keep using books, movies, and television, which helped me develop my imagination and become interested in stories and storytelling.
This continued until I was miraculously able to attend high school classes, where I met Mr. Farzad Saleknia, my teacher of Persian literature, who was a young poet and screenwriter. My interest in literature and stories and his encouragement led me to the world of story writing, and then filmmaking and cinema.
Although I had to self-learn cinema because of my family’s opposition and lack of schools of art for people with disabilities and pursued my studies in economics after high school, my love for cinema did not leave me a moment so that I could miraculously enter the world of filmmaking and have continued my activities up to the present day. My cinematic activities have brought me many achievements, including my acquaintance with my closest friends and even my wife, and the best memories of my life have always been somehow related to cinema.
CULT CRITIC: Concepts like love, death, and subsequent life are your favorite subjects which you portrayed in a picture-perfect manner in your film “the rendezvous”. could you please tell us your other works where how portrayed these concepts and how?
To be honest, I have always been concerned about the concept of time and tried in some of my films to show experience and passage of time, and the impact it might have on everything.
Concepts such as love and death have also been a dramatic tool for me to share a visual cinematic experience with viewers and evoke their feelings of empathy.
I used the concept of time in relation to love, death or even murder.in my films including “The Last Night” and “Old Page of My Notes”.
In Rendezvous, for example, I narrated the concept of the time of death from two perspectives, one of a dying person who sees the time of his death as enjoyable as a birthday party with his child as he is earnestly waiting to meet his beloved again, and the other as the death of a woman from the perspective of others (such as a nurse in the Last Sequence) who is seen very mean and whose death doesn’t matter to her.
In the Old Page of My Notes, I also see the effect of the passage of time on people’s approach to customs.
In The Last Night, you also see the narrative from the perspective of a murdered victim from end to beginning.
CULT CRITIC: Your another project “last night” was a horror one. how could you relate it with the concept of love, death, and subsequent life?
As I explained in my answer to the previous question, if we watch The Last Night several times, we will notice a few points: first, the clockwise movement showing the movement of the film from end to beginning, second, a newspaper clipping on the ground that reports the presence of a serial killer and, finally, the heavy make-up of a woman (although the candle in front of the picture indicates her husband’s recent death and her mourning, and this is considered a bad thing in Iran). In fact, the film narrates the story of the death of a traitorous woman by her loving husband, as if the story is being narrated after the murder of the woman from the victim’s perspective in another world.
CULT CRITIC: Without even showing a single frame of the character(old lady) from her background, you portray her past life and the bond between her and the love of her life just by showing their daughter’s love towards her. you are the writer and the director itself. how does it helped you in making your film?
In Rendezvous, you see an old woman’s life through her relationship with her daughter and through the marginal sound of the film, i.e. the voice of the woman’s husband while reading her farewell letter. In fact, the viewer simultaneously faces three different stories.
First, the voice of the husband coming from the past; second, single voices of the bride and the old woman’s son tired of taking care of her; third, the image of the old woman with the beautiful girl, which is actually her favorite life; and finally, once again the image of the woman’s life from the perspective of ordinary people (like the nurse in the film), who considers the old woman to be a mean person. So in this film, what connects life, love, and death is the concept of time.
CULT CRITIC: AND WHAT SORT OF DIFFICULTIES YOU FACED WHILE DOING THE SHOOTING OF “THE RENDEZVOUS”?
Making a film is generally difficult, particularly for filmmakers working independently or with very limited financial support. But if I want to mention a few points in this particular project, first I have to mention the issue of finding the location with a Qajar-era Iranian architecture and preparing its included old things. Our next difficulty was capturing high motion shots with a very limited filming group in a small space, which led to repetitions and the prolonged duration of the film. Our next problem was our impossibility of filming on multiple days due to the limited budget, my occupational engagement and lack of filming permit during working days in that particular location.
Now that I think of the process of making this film, I consider it a miracle, because solutions were found for problems at all stages of production and even in the post-production stage.
All the moments of filmmaking are unforgettable memories for me. I need to say that I had written the script for Rendezvous three years before, but couldn’t make it until my wife urged and encouraged me to do so.
One of the most memorable issues during the pre-production stage was the recurrence of the appendix of the film designer, which made us assign the task to Faranak (my wife) who was responsible for costume design, and because she didn’t have the experience of production design and management, everyone in the group had to help the production team to get things done. But the most memorable moment during the filming process was the actress’s replacement by the photographer because of her more appropriate physical status and her likeness to the images on the wall and the old woman, As a result, the makeup and costume team repeated the events once for the new actress, and I had to re-capture all the shots for her.
CULT CRITIC: As the total shooting was an indoor one. what was the total budget for your film? was it a sponsored one?
As you know, filmmaking is generally a very expensive art, and if this project hadn’t been supported by professional agents as volunteers, it could never have been produced.
The film was sponsored a little by the Tehran Short Film Association, mostly for renting accessories to the scene, but no short film will certainly be produced without the help and collaboration of young filmmaking groups.
If the film were to be produced at a realistic cost, it would need a total fund of around € 3,000.
CULT CRITIC: The title of the film “the rendezvous” says it all. generally meeting with loved ones means a physical meet. but here you portrays the eternal meet of two loved souls. why did you choose to keep this title? and by keeping this title what message you want to give to the audiences?
In fact, I wanted to convey to the viewer the feeling that the only thing that remains forever is love, and two lovers will meet each other in the other world even if they fail to do so in this world.
CULT CRITIC: Can you let your audiences know about your upcoming projects?
In fact, I am trying to finish, with the cooperation of friends, the design of a short horror series and make a documentary about the rights of citizenship.
CULT CRITIC: What is your message for the young aspiring filmmakers with a limited budget?
I’ve always hated saying something without actually doing it in my life, but based on my personal experience I can say that financial constraints or even physical disabilities are minor problems in the way to the realization of dreams because God’s miracles always help people to implement their dreams.
If we do something to unlock the doors, we will see that they will be opened because walls would be built instead of them if they were not to be opened.
CULT CRITIC: How you socially connect yourself with the audiences in the present digital world?
Unfortunately, one of my weaknesses during filmmaking is that I don’t try to attract an international audience for my films through the digital world. But in this film, in collaboration with my good friend, Mohsen Farajollahi and through the use of the digital world and a variety of movie streaming platforms, I try to attract the largest number of viewers.