Interview by: Film 2.0
June 26, 2007
Q: What's the reason that you accept this position? and how do you feel about that? What do you expect from 2007's AFA?
I regard myself a member of the family of Pusan Film Festival and this was enough reason for me to accept this position. I preferred however, to have attended as a student so I could still learn. Educating myself about cinema is an eternal job for me. Every day one needs to learn a little and then begin work. I have never assumed that I have learned everything about cinema. Cinema is not a fixed knowledge. Cinema finds new dimensions every day and the society of cinema needs to update its information every day. There’s also a philosophical aspect about education. I better use an Iranian proverb that says: ‘Run away from he who has found the truth. Go after he who seeks the truth.’ Scholars have usually found the truth. Their thirst for truth has been satiated but real students are thirsty and still seeking truth. When I am with my students I learn about the thirst for knowledge and truth seeking from them. But why do I say real students is because today the world universities are full of students who are after degrees than knowledge.
Q: What's your direction and aim about 2007's AFA as chief director? What do you want to teach to Asian film maker?
This is a tough responsibility. The study period is short and I don’t know how to teach in a few days what I have learned over 20 years. Cinema has two aspects; technical and artistic creativity. Teaching the technique is easy but no one can teach another the poetic aspect of art. To become a tree you need to be a plant first. If someone’s essentially made of stone he needs to transform in order to become tree. And transformation can not be taught. In Iran the universities deliver many filmmakers every year but the great Iranian filmmakers are not graduates of film schools. In Pusan as well, if the selected students possess artistic talent they can learn methods of work. In this short period I can only tell them about my own experiences. I am a self educated filmmaker and have never gone to any schools to study cinema. But my real school has been my life sufferings. Up to age 17, I undertook many jobs as an apprentice and from age 17 for 4 and half years I was a political prisoner. My sufferings therefore were my schools. For some filmmakers cinema is recreation of life. And for some others it is creation of a world that they like to exist but it doesn’t. In both cases we have to know what we want to say and how to say it. I can tell about how to say it in Pusan classes but every one needs to know for themselves what they want to say; of their own suffering and dreams. My goal is to show how every one can hear about others’ experiences but walk their own way.
Q: I know you also have a film school in Armenia. How's the school going? How many students are there? and Is there any difficulty to run film school in Armenia?
My main film school was active for 8 years in Iran. A small friendly school. But in the past three years I have held classes in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. In Armenia I only suggested for an organization called filmmakers without borders.
Q: The first and second dean were Thawanee "Hu Saosin" and Korean "Im Kyuntaek", and you are the first director from Middle East. Do you worry about kind of cultural gap between students and you?
Cinema is a universal language. If we can understand each other’s films we can also understand each other’s words about cinema.
Q: Where are you living and work now (Armenia or other film location?)? and What's your recent film work?
I live wherever I make films. I regard myself more of a citizen of cinema. Culture is my every minute apprehension so my country is where I don’t have to get permission from anti culture or culture-less officials to do cultural work. At the present my family’s name is in the black list of Iran’s censorship office. Until the situation improves in Iran I will be making films abroad. I have left Iran for four years now because of censorship problems. During these four years I have either directed or produced films in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and India.
Q: What do you think about current Asian Movies?
Many of the Asian countries do not produce any films. For example, like the majority of Central Asian countries after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Their problem is their budgets for films. In other Asian countries such as India where over a thousand films are produced every year there are few artistic films. Conditions get worse for artistic filmmakers every day. In some countries such as Turkmenistan cinema has been completely stopped because of censorship but in some other Asian countries in the last decade such as Japan, Korea, China and Iran cinema is worth consideration.
Q: What more is needed to improve Asian movies?
Cinema is a package; an industrial, economic and artistic product. For growth of this complex product in terms of industry, technicians are needed. Education must be expanded. Economically, governments need to invest to preserve their cultures and artistically, people’s taste level should be raised by critics and the press. I presume that in the last two decades despite the rise in information on earth the culture has become more superficial and naturally the audience have also become more superficial. No more are artistic films welcomed except in festivals. It is the same in politics. The presidents of countries used to be more educated. Today, many of them are just ordinary people. In this situation a better cinema in Asia can not be expected.