“If I lived in Europe or North America instead of Iran, I could have enjoyed more freedom.”
Mohammad Farahani is an Iranian multi-award-winning filmmaker, director of the unconventional and disturbing “Illusion”. A debut work which has been splitting opinions in the festivals circuit.
Born in a middle-class family, he was the last child of a six-member family, and his father was a taxi driver. Received a diploma degree in mathematics and physics, and got his bachelor in Industrial Economics. During his education, he tried several sports as cycling, football, bodybuilding, boxing, basketball, and yoga and studied in various fields: history, astronomy, psychology, and metaphysics. In the last few years, he started becoming more focused in art and have been experiencing acting and directing, while learning classical opera.
ISA: Mathematics, Physics and Industrial Economics, plus studies in several other fields. What made you become passionate about acting and directing?
MF: The possibility to show the life and the beauties of it tends me towards acting and filmmaking so that you can show the beauty of your imaginations to others.
ISA: Living in Iran and filmmaking. In your opinion and according to your experience, there are incompatibilities? And how do you manage them?
MF: This subject requires a set of additional skills that are more relevant to the knowledge of psychology, skills such as mind management, self-management.
ISA: Do you feel constraint somehow as an artist by living in Iran?
MF: Yes, the excesses demand of some people or artistic groups, ultimately leads to lack of cooperation with them, and the other is not to show a series of topics that are relevant to religious, economic, or political issues.
ISA: What could be different in your work if you lived in another country? In Europe or North America, for instance?
MF: If I lived in Europe or North America instead of Iran, I could have enjoyed more freedom.
ISA: “Illusion” is a very unconventional film. Did you think about the audience when you started developing this project?
MF: Yes, right, you pointed out to a good point, while I was thinking about the plot, I did not want to restrict myself to different constraints, but I wanted to do a conceptual work.
ISA: Crime, mystery, horror, indie, experimental. How would you define this film and what did you want to achieve with your approach?
MF: I know my film first, as an empirical film, but during the filmmaking process in some areas, there are cases that investigating them causes to create scenes that are in the form of a decoding, horror or criminal genre, and ultimately, because this kind of artistic activities is out of the ordinary flows of filmmaking, it can be considered as independent films.
ISA: Are experimental films a euphemism for lack of filmmaking skills or the opposite?
MF: The artistic and filmmaking skills are gained through experiencing; the ultimate judgment of how much a person is skillful in artistic work is obtained during the process of the work of that person in the course of time.
ISA: Do you think is there a space in the industry for experimental films? For you, what is their purpose?
MF: The chance to work for empirical work depends on the filmmaking and following up to find the appropriate investor, and the expectation of others is likely to work in the same conventional and common spaces.
ISA: In this short film, you clearly dive in a darkened world. How would you define this world? Does it match somehow to your own experiences?
MF: If a person is not in an appropriate level in terms of physical, mental, spiritual health, financially and economically and also training the skills necessary to live, because of the needs of humans as well as the common situations of scoring, that person most likely will witness the dark experiences and moments of life. About my definition of this world and life, I must say that humans enter the universe unconsciously when they are born, and just with the right training can be taught them to enjoy the moments of life in this world, and this possibility is through modernity, new world, and human civilization.
ISA: One of the questions you put with this film is if the character can achieve the self-awareness, if he can get out of the strange darkness he experiences and eventually survive. Is there an answer?
MF: You mentioned a good point, yes, if a person finds out events and games of his time, it is possible to get rid of them.
ISA: The duality between reality and imagination or fantasy, the problem of perception, is something that several artists have been dealing with. At this level, what are your main influences?
MF: The things that impressed me are messages with a seemingly general audience that the speaker states it in a serious tone, but he is still waiting for the response of the audience to follow up.
ISA: Would you say you are revisiting the dilemma of the perception of reality or trying to set up new visual and emotional experiences about it?
MF: You mentioned a good point, I think the second part of your question is correct, and I tried to discover and experience a new perspective.
ISA: Is it possible to deliver audience a positive message or is this short film an artistic statement about our condemnation as humankind?
MF: It was an interesting question. I think more half of the film’s concept is about the darkness of the current human situation and less half of the concept of the film is about the probability of finding a way of salvation or liberation.
ISA: If you had to choose another title for this work, what it would be?
MF: If I was going to select another title for this film, I might have named it Magic Box Mischief.
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