Iran 1st-Hand: Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof “Iran is Like an Alcoholic Father”

The trailer of Mohammad Rasoulof’s Goodbye


In December 2010, Iranian directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi were each sentenced to six years in prison and 20-year bans on filmmaking for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”. 

Rasoulof, free on bail, is at the Rotterdam International Film Festival for the screening of his “Goodbye”. He speaks with the Festival organisers:

How would you describe the past year?

Two years have passed since the national intelligence agency accused me of endangering the Iranian state. In the meantime I had an okay time. Of course I worried, but I am certain that every difficult period can lead to something beautiful. For example, last year I made Goodbye. A film in which I didn’t compromise in spite of what had happened, so I have no complaints.

Is Goodbye intended as a criticism of Iran’s leaders?

“I’m always amazed and surprised that so many people think there is a political aspect to my work. All I try to do is make films based on what’s going on around me. If there is any politics in there, then that’s merely because my life is influenced by the decisions of politicians.

Who do you clearly disagree with?

I have always criticised the situation – as an artist, not for political reasons. I carefully observe the situation, analyse human behaviour and subsequently try to visualise that in my work. The problems I deal with in my films, such as poverty, are not exclusively Iranian. They are timeless. I view myself as a critic first and foremostly. So, yes, if criticising power and those in power makes me the regime’s enemy, then so be it. I don’t protest if my films are viewed as criticising power.

How did you smuggle the film out of Iran?

I’m afraid I can’t tell you that as I hope to get the next one out the same way.

How long have you been away from Iran for now?

Twenty days.

Do you still live there?

Naturally. I have to continue to live in Iran in order to be able to keep making films. Only there can I stay abreast of current social developments. Do you really think you can make films about things you know nothing about?

In Iran you’ve been sentenced to prison, but not incarcerated yet. Isn’t it dangerous for you to keep living there?

To be quite honest, I don’t know what the current status of my sentence is. For example, in the end, my friend Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced to six years in prison last year, only spent two months in jail. My own sentence has been reduced to one year, but for the time being I am still being issued with visas so I can attend festivals like Cannes and the IFFR.

I have no idea wha will happen next. Like many other Iranian artists who have been sentenced, I have no idea what’s going on. I try not to think about it too much. I try to adopt a positive approach: if I have to go to prison, it’s bound to provide inspiration for new films. It takes me at least a year to write a good script, so if the worst comes to the worst, that is what I’ll do in prison. I can do it without a pen and paper in my head if need be.

As far as I’m concerned, the sentence imposed is merely a formality. My point of departure is that I want to be able to make a film whenever I want to, in my own way of course. Currently, if I want to make a film in Iran, that’s a piece of cake as long as I’m a good boy and adhere to the rules of the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security. I, however, prefer to make personal films in which I can say what I want to without being limited by the system.”

Have people in Iran seen the film yet?

Not yet, but that is set to change in the very near future. When Goodbye is released on DVD, people will immediately illegally copy it, so they can sell it and pass it on to others. There is a major market for pirated films in Iran. No one will get rich off my film except the clandestine DVD trade. But at least people will get to see it. That’s what it’s all about for me. I prefer not to be in the spotlight: in fact, I avoid interviews like this one if I can. Goodbye tells my story.

A Separation, the sure-fire Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, can be seen in your country.

That’s right. The government determines which film will be entered and so my film doesn’t stand a chance. Another expression of political power, eh? To get your film into the cinemas, you have to avoid subjects that might possibly be politically sensitive. Asghar Farhadi managed to do that with A Separation, which is really impressive. Incidentally, the nomination won’t make life easier for Farhadi: he too has been accused of political conspiracy.

But as directors we can’t really be compared: Farhadi uses professional equipment; I use a small handycam. I primarily make my films for myself; he earns his living this way.

What is your source of income then?

Until two years ago, I ran a film company that helped up-and-coming filmmakers create their work whether it be feature films, documentaries or ads. That’s how I made a living for myself. When I was charged, the authorities raided by premises, took all my equipment and closed by business. Now I engage in other activities which I’d rather not talk about for reasons of safety. In any case, I hope I never have to make commercial films to make ends meet, however difficult it might become to keep filming in the future. Nowadays a lot of people are scared of working with me.

Who cares? If I have to, I’ll start fishing.

How do you envisage Iran’s future?

I think the current regime will correct itself. Things can’t go on like this much longer. But I will always make films there. Iran is like an alcoholic father. You can’t change your father, but I can see him hurting himself, myself and others. But I still love him.” 

Quelle: EA World

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Veröffentlicht am 11. Februar 2012 in Empfehlungen, Gesetze, Literatur, Medien, Meinungen, Politik und mit , , , , , , , , , , getaggt. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink. Kommentare deaktiviert.

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