Asghar Farhadi, Iranian filmmaker: “I saw how powerful women are”

Asghar Farhadi, Iranian filmmaker: “I saw how powerful women are”

Movies

No stranger to prestigious awards (two Oscars for best foreign language film, a Grand Prix at Cannes in 2021 for A Hero , a Golden Bear in 2011 for A Separation , etc.), Asghar Farhadi, 51, has just finished the screenplay for his next feature film, which will be shot in New York, in English, and produced by an American company. On the occasion of a meeting in Les Arcs (Savoie) in December 2023, where he chaired the jury of the fifteenth edition of the Arcs Film Festival, dedicated to independent European cinema, the director confided his reluctance to now shoot in Iran, the country where he lives.

I wouldn’t have gotten here if…

…if I hadn’t had a family structure in the almost geographical sense of the term. We lived in a small town on the outskirts of Isfahan. Our house was the last in a long cul-de-sac where my entire family lived, including my aunts and uncles. There were many cousins of us who met outside, in this cul-de-sac, to play and talk to each other. The youngest of this group of children, I grew up listening to stories.

What were these stories?

There was everything that the grown-ups had the right to do and that they came to tell us about. In particular their trips, in secret from their parents, to the cinema in Isfahan. Very often, late afternoons were devoted to these films. Needless to say, it wasn’t a literal story: they invented chapters, characters… I wouldn’t have gotten there if I hadn’t listened to my elders recount the films they had seen. Today, they all tell me: “Know that it is thanks to us that you became a filmmaker. »

What was your first real experience of cinema?

When I finally managed to convince one of these big guys to join me in his escapade. It was a secret, of course. We took the bus and, when we arrived at the cinema, the film had already started. We couldn’t afford to wait until the next session, otherwise we would come home too late. So we walked in right in the middle of the screening. I liked the atmosphere of the room. I was fascinated by this beam of light coming out of the projector, all this suspended dust.

As for the film, the title of which I no longer remember – probably an Eastern European film – one of the characters was a child of around ten years old. I immediately identified with him. The entire trip back and the days that followed were spent imagining the first part of the story, which we had missed. That’s where I became a filmmaker: I was able in turn to tell this first half of the film in our street, to reach my audience.

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