Art and Experience: This interview with Anne Demy-George and Italo Spinelli was held in Ferdosi Grand Hotel. They both know Iran and Iranian cinema pretty well as Anne travelled to Iran for sixteen times and Italo has participated in the Fajr International Festival since 2000. As they both just arrived in Tehran yesterday, our talks focused more on Iranian cinema. They like Iranian cinema and Anne believes that inaccurate films like Argo are not only offensive to the Iranian but also to the Canadian and the New Zealanders.
Have you seen movies in the 34th Fajr International Film Festival?
Anne: Not yet, but, in other festivals, I have seen Lantoori which I like very much and I have seen Muhammad: The Messenger of God that I like it too.
Italo: I arrived this morning so I have not seen any movie in this festival yet but I have seen Lantoori in Berlin Festival and I like it very much.
It is interesting that both of you like Lantoori. What in the movie does make it thrilling for you?
A: I have seen Dormishian`s former film as well and I like the former film more than the new one. Overall, He has something important to say and I like his style. The performances of Lantoori are perfect specifically, a great performance from Navid Mohammad Zadeh. The film makes me really sad. Maybe Iranian do not like films that are critical of their country and there are many Iranian movies which are critical of Iran but it is one the roles of filmmakers. They should be social conscious and we also have many films that are critical of our country, Australia.
I: Lantoori is about a real event and the way it happens. The film tries to take a balance call and show real motives of the both sides. It talks about discrimination and its root and Navid Mohammad Zadeh also has a great performance.
You both have been in Iran many times before so I would say that you are familiar with Iran atmosphere. How do you see the media-hype is around Iran?
A: There is still more to know but yes I would say I know Iran. I run an Iranian movie festival in Australia and before that I used to run an international festival. I think you are talking about something like Argo. Honestly speaking, Argo not only offended Iranian but also to the Canadian and the New Zealanders because it is an inaccurate movie. But, we know that it is not the way Iranian people think and behave. This inaccuracy is often so happened. So it is important that we show Iranian films to the world because we present Iran to the world from different points of view. All in all, as I said before, there are films that show positive sides of Iran and, on the other hand, films that show negative sides of Iran as the reality of the country. Therefore, if they are good films or have something important to say then they all should be screened.
I: I focus on Iranian cinema from historical point of view so I have seen many Iranian movies. Iranian film makers have different tradition styles and specific vision so they are different from other directors in neighborhood countries and the quality of them is really high. In addition, quality of documentaries in Iran is very high and it is the part of Iran cinema.
How do you think about the successes of Iranian movies in international market?
A: I can talk from Australian point of view as I am from Australia; it is really hard for foreign language films to find their place in my country so it is really difficult to release a foreign language film in Australia.
I: it depends on what kind of film we are talking about if we talking about Asghar Farhadi then he has found his own cinema but when it comes to new young Iranian directors there are only few of them that can find their way in the world.
Who is your favorite Iranian filmmaker?
A: There are many of them. I would say Abbas Kiarostami. Kiarostami is one the greatest director in the world and maybe there are twelve directors in such a high par in the world. But, there are also many independent film makers who made small special films but to be honest I cannot recall the names at the moment. Their films may get not screening widely but there are worth to get scream.
I: I appreciate Asghar Farhadi and Mohammad Rasoulof. Majid Majidi also had a film some years ago called Children of Heaven that it got much attention in the world. At the beginning of his work, his movies were under influence of neo- realism but his style was changed. Moreover, Kiarostami promoted Iran cinema in the world and I believe that Reza Dormaneshian is one the young independent directors that could find its way in the market world widely.
Some critics overestimate the influence of cultural redlines on Iranian filmmakers. How do you see the discussion?
A: limitations make Iranian director to get very creative ways to get around sensitive issues. I do not think that it is a positive thing but in countries with these kinds of lines it turns to a positive thing.
I: limitations are not only in cinema and it is the same in society. In fact, cinema is the mirror of the society. Basically, as far as I know, Islam is not against cinema but it does not appreciate some types of movies.
What is the specific figure of Iran cinema?
A: I think Asghar Farhadi produced a whole new kind of cinema in Iran cinema then many people followed him. Before that, I would say that short story paradigm was something very characteristic in Iran cinema but it is no longer true, specially, after releasing of middle class family dramas. Maybe, we could say that social issues are the mutual element in Iran cinema but to me a lot has changed and the change is still going on.
I: I could not agree more with Anne. There is a change in new generation of Iranian filmmakers. I would say Iran`s cinema changed and it is still in the road of the change.