What It's About: "The Sheik and I" tells the story of how I was commissioned by a Middle Eastern Biennial to make a film that they subsequently banned for blasphemy.
Says Director Caveh Zahedi: "In college, I studied philosophy and did a lot of experimenting with psychedelics. One day, on acid, it became overwhelmingly clear to me that we don't see what is actually in front of us but rather project our own assumptions about the world onto what we see. It struck me that the task of art is to help us to see what is actually there and, as Aldous Huxley puts it, 'cleanse the doors of perception.' Filmmaking, with its unique ontological relationship to reality, is particularly well-suited to help us to do just that. All of my work is inspired to some degree by Ed Pincus' DIARIES, the films of John Cassavetes and the films of Jean-Luc Godard.
"My biggest challenge, and one that I have not faced before, was navigating the moral and legal challenges of making a film critical of an authoritarian regime that had the power to arbitrarily punish the people who appear in the film.
"I hope audiences come away from the film with a fresh perspective on the Middle East, the importance of the First Amendment, and the cinematic possibilities of the personal documentary form. I’ve been working on this film nonstop for over a year so I am looking forward to screening the film in Austin and just enjoying the fact that I finished it."
Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.