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TIFF ’09 | Granaz Moussavi : “Something Different and Fresh from Iran”

TIFF '09 | Granaz Moussavi : "Something Different and Fresh from Iran"

Filmed at great risk to all involved, Granaz Moussavi’s “My Tehran for Sale” reveals the complex double lives led by many modern Iranian youth who must struggle for cultural freedom. The film screens as part of Toronto’s Discovery section. indieWIRE contacted the film’s director to discuss her career and the film. We gave Moussavi and others a free-form style interview to gather their thoughts on their individual projects…

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of interviews indieWIRE will be running with the filmmakers screening in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival’s Discovery program.

You…

Granaz? A patch-work of a crazy, moody, master of ups and downs, adrenaline addict, nostalgic, red hair poet, and a Tehran lover. Used to be a lover of red but circumstances in Iran today have changed her taste to Green! And now planning to change her hair color to Green too!

Your Filmmaking Career and Process…

I was born to TV parents. My dad was a sound guy and my mum a video grader. I was brought up amongst TV actors, directors, and artists. We had a good size library at home which I got myself sunk into for most my childhood and teenage. Being a good student at school and the first child of an educated middle class Tehran resident family, of course I was expected to be a doctor! At the age 16, as my dad was on a film, he came home saying that an actress left the set after an argument with the director and that she wasn’t coming back and they were desperately looking for a young girl to take her place. After a brief audition, I was chosen for the role. That summer with that supporting role, followed by a spectacular reception of the film by my classmates at school in the film festival in Tehran, my life changed from pursuing brain surgery to filmmaking. Of course changing focus from acting to directing took me some 7 years and from that point to actually making my first feature another 9 years!

“My Tehran for Sale”…

I had this idea for years. A synopsis on paper and the rest of the script in my head. I was just out of the film school trying to find my feet on the Earth again. Someday I heard that there was a pitching competition in Sydney. I had never pitched before and thought to myself I could give it a try before I head back to Tehran. We don’t have such thing as ‘pitching’ process in Iran and as a self training process to polish my knowledge in the film industry in Australia I signed up to observe the others. I didn’t really mean to get on the stage and ‘pitch’ but one thing lead to another and suddenly I found myself on the stage doing what apparently was called ‘pitching’ my script. I got short listed in that session and then again in the next round for the state, and finally won the competition across Australia, the Holding Redlich prize at SPAA where I was approached by producers. Meanwhile, Adelaide Film Festival was a huge back up standing by me the whole way, giving me confidence and a prospect of support, and most importantly being a matchmaker for me and my producers Julie and Kate, both from Adelaide. And, I tell you something very confidential here: after a decade of living a foreigner life in another country, the moment I got off the stage after the pitch, I realized that having a good story can go a longer way than having the best English fluency or the best accent in a crowd.

Your Influences…

The main influences for me have been the enormous energy and vibe for transformation in the contemporary Iran, the youth and their subcultures, the underground art and life in Tehran, and most importantly the unheard voices and bottled up stories of people around me.

The Future…

In Toronto I want to see that people are coming out of my film screenings feeling that they have seen something different and fresh from Iran. In the near future I hope that I can screen my film in Iran to the people that my heart beats for… and one more wish, that I can publish my new poetry collection in Iran uncensored.

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