‘A Separation’ Actor Leila Hatami Wants Wider Range of Iranian Cinema to Find Overseas Release
Art and Experience:
“More various films should be shown internationally from Iran because usually as everything is commercial, people choose the films which are more touristic [because] it gives you an aspect of the society,” Hatami told Variety. “What I would like is that the art of Iran would be shown more, because you see facts, events, moods in Iran – but you can see that everywhere. You can see it in the news.”
“It’s good to have films about problems of society and such things, but what I appreciate especially is the art of Iranian cinema,” Hatami said. “What has happened internationally usually, you don’t see the best things of a country as you eat, for example, touristic plates, it’s not necessarily the best one, it’s just the famous one.”
Hatami added that the Iranian films that go deeper into the country and talk about the people and stress on the human aspect, should gain wider exposure. The actor said that in addition to the globally well-known auteurs of Iranian cinema, there are many more who are waiting to be discovered but they lack exposure due to lack of international distribution.
“Maybe the distributors underestimate people. And they think they cannot feel it, they cannot understand it. So they don’t present it outside. And they look for some easy food – easy digested food, and not very sophisticated,” Hatami said.
However, Hatami declined to name the Iranian filmmakers whose work she feels should be seen internationally. “I don’t want to do the publicity for that,” said Hatami. “But this is not only about Iran… we are faced with the same obstacle everywhere. As a suggestion I can tell distributors, let’s be more courageous… introduce new things… take the risk. Because people, what they love, it’s art, no matter from where it comes – something that touches you, in your heart. Everybody is looking for that, to discover something from the heart of the other, inside of the other person.”
Hatami said that she was not surprised when “A Separation” won the Oscar as she believed in the strength of Iranian cinema. She has yet to watch Farhadi’s 2021 effort “A Hero.”
Hatami spoke to Variety at France’s Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinemas in February, where she served as the president of the international jury. She is all praise for the festival’s impact, saying that “Asian cinema should be shown and well-known in the whole world.”
Next up for Hatami is Oktay Baraheni’s film “Oldboy,” which she has wrapped. She has some work left on Afshin Hashemi’s series “Women’s Secret Network” and is also shooting commercials.
Nick Vivarelli contributed to this report.