Director Sepideh Farsi came to present Demain je travers at the Version Originale festival on November 11 at the Gérard-Philipe cinema in Gujan-Mestras. He gave an interview to “La Dépêche”.
Why did you choose to make this film?
I have made 5-6 feature films before this film. After two short films, I started feature films, I came to fiction fairly quickly. I often find myself in stories that feed more than reality. I like to cross that line between fiction and documentary.
Moreover, in some of my films I use archival images or images taken in documentary settings with small portable cameras.
Is it an intimate goal to convey geopolitical news in a feature film?
Rather, yes. I have been coming here more directly for several years now. Is it because of my origin, being an exile, being in prison, being active in my youth, experiencing a revolution, or someone else now? I believe I have a civic and political sensibility that cannot separate art from geopolitics, and this is increasingly apparent in my work.
What do you want to show in this movie?
The essence of the project was to show that two people from two worlds that are so far apart can meet like two asteroids and meet for a short time. People show skill in the most extreme situations.
This is the work of Yusof, who has lost almost everything, and shows incredible strength. This is something I see a lot in migrants who are poor and yet very strong.
I have talked a lot with Iranian and Syrian migrants for the films. This is part of my life. Later, I didn’t disconnect because the movie ended.
Love and human feelings are sometimes the only humanity that keeps people going.
Of course, there are encounters that feed you without any exchange. In the movie, it’s a brief encounter. They will part ways, but something happens. One feeds the other, one sustains the other.
You didn’t think to choose this actress…
I thought of others, but I’ve seen him in other movies. However, she had to play a cold character and exudes a lot of cuteness. But he convinced me. It was her first role, but it was a certain fragility that fascinated me. In fact, he did indeed make the crossing, and he did indeed pass through Mytilene. I think he has a background that helps him in his game.
You shoot scenes of migrants on boats, a man fleeing war to avoid fighting, a woman struggling in Greece… does cinema have a role in explaining life like journalism?
I think yes. This is one of the functions of movies to both dream people and tell a real story. Even if it’s fiction, these are true stories!
Cinema has the function of sublimating what comes from life. If there is no real commitment, it is wrong.
Do you live in France?
Yes, but I go to Greece whenever I can, I feel very good in this country. It brings me closer to Iran, which I haven’t been back to since 2009. I run away when I get the chance.
Did you have to leave Iran because of your activism?
Yes, I was an activist when I was in high school and I got arrested when I was 16 and spent about a year in jail. Then once I went out, I was banned, I couldn’t go to university. I had my certificate and could have taken my passport by mistake. Nothing was computerized back then. My stay in Paris was not planned, but it is a happy coincidence. I came to France alone, I was 18 and a half years old.
You were born in Iran. What is your appearance
how are women treated?
Women have a strong place in Iranian society. They are very active. It is not like in Saudi Arabia where women are not an integral part of the labor society, this is not the case. But since the establishment of the Islamic republic, they have suffered greatly, starting with the compulsory veil, which was not compulsory in 1979, but became compulsory in 1982 for teachers, civil servants, and nurses in a very short period of time. And after two years it was extended to everyone. Women cannot leave the country without their husband’s permission, and they cannot judge and touch a man in the street. They drive a car, they can earn a living, but the life of a single woman without a husband or a divorce is quite complicated in Iran.
Laws are really made against women. It is a dictatorial society, but women suffer more injustice than men. It started with the horrific death of this young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who was murdered last September. It jumped the whole company! First the women, then the men, because a general is fed up. So, of course, this is the struggle of women on the front lines, but everyone is fed up with the Islamic regime.
Have you ever recorded a theme in one of your films?
I have already talked about it in 2008 in “Red Rose” and “Tehran Without Permission”.
This is a documentary where people say everything they’re not happy about. I managed to get people talking a year before the election fraud.
Were you able to film there?
I slyly filmed with my phone and left after 2009 and never came back. “Red Rose” I did it in Athens.
There’s a camera on your skin. Where does this fascination for film come from?
From a very young age, I was fascinated by the camera and then at the age of 16, by cinema. The setting fascinates me. I don’t know how to draw, but cinema is born. Assembly too.
What do you like to see when you go to the movies?
I prefer movies with intimate dramas, but also action movies. But I am more attracted to auteur cinema.
You are a part of this festival, how do you feel?
I am happy to go there, I was not sure if I could come. But there’s something difficult between the time we finish the film and the time it hits the screen. Completed in 2019. It has a long time to release, but unfortunately it cannot be immediately. Festivals allow this meeting with people and exploring places I have not set foot before. I often meet other authors, which is great.
Do you know the basin?
I’ve been to Arcachon before, but never to Gujan. The Basin I know is magnificent. I was able to come with my partner when my daughter was little and we rented a boat, but we got the tide time wrong and ended up in the mud trying to push the boat.
We couldn’t wait, we had to leave, I had a plane to Iran in Paris, it was 20 years ago (laughs).
Interview with Fabienne Amozigh-Gay
Born in Tehran, the capital of Iran, Sepideh Farsi moved to Paris in 1984 to study mathematics. After several years of photography, he started making short films and documentaries, including “Tehran Without Permission” in 2009 and “Harat” presented in Locarno in 2017.
He directed his first feature films “Rêves de sable” (2003) and “Le regard” (2005), selected in Rotterdam. He directed La maison sous l’eau in 2010 and the documentary Cloudy Greece in 2012 before presenting The Red Rose at its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival. “Demain je travers” is his new film.