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Tribeca ’09 Interview | “About Elly” Director Asghar Farhadi (World Narrative Feature Competition)

Tribeca '09 Interview | "About Elly" Director Asghar Farhadi (World Narrative Feature Competition)

Editor’s Note: This is one of dozens of interviews, conducted via email, with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival in the narrative and doc competitions as well as the Discovery section. The festival takes place April 22 – May 3.

About Elly
(World Narrative Feature Competition)

Director: Asghar Farhadi
Primary Cast: Golshifteh Farahani, Taraneh Alidousti, Mani Haghighi, Merila Zarei, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini
Screenwriter: Asghar Farhadi
Producer: Mahmoud Razavi, Asghar Farhadi
Editor: Hayedeh Safiyari
Director of Photography: Hossein Jafarian
Sound Mixer: Mohammad-Reza Delpak
Production Company: Simaye Mehr
(Drama, Romance)

Synopsis: A group of old college pals reunites for a weekend adventure on the sea, but compounding lies and deception quickly lead to catastrophe. Everyone hopes Sepideh’s new friend Elly will hit it off with Ahmad, newly divorced from his German wife and in search of an Iranian bride, but Elly disappears on the second day, plunging the group into a complex mystery. Asghar Farhadi took the Best Director prize at Berlin. (Description provided by the Tribeca Film Festival)

Introduce yourself…

I was born in Isfahan, Iran in 1972. Whilst at school I became interested in writing, drama and cinema, took courses at Iranian Young Cinema Society and started my career as a filmmaker by making super 8mm and 16mm films. I am a graduate of Theatre, with a B.A. in Dramatic Arts.

During my studies, I wrote and directed student plays, also I wrote plays for national radio and directed for television such shows as the hit series “Tale of a City.” In 2001, I wrote the screenplay for Ebrahim Hatamikia’s box-office and critical success “Low Heights”.

My directorial debut was with 2003’s “Dancing in the Dust.” This film went on to participate in the Moscow Film Festival, where it won both the Best Leading Actor and Film Critics awards. I made my second feature film, “Beautiful City,” in 2003 which won the best feature film award at the Warsaw Film Festival 2004, the India International Film Festival and Moscow’s Faces of Love Film Festival.
“Chaharshanbeh Suri” (Fireworks Wednesday) is my third feature and latest film. “About Elly” won the Silver Bear for best director at 59th Berlin International Film Festival. it is about a group of Iranians who take a trip to the Caspian Sea that turns tragic.

What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?

The most important thing that lead me to be a filmmaker was the cinema itself. I believe that only cinema could make me fond of being a filmmaker and only cinema itself has this power.

What prompted the idea for “About Elly” and what excited you to undertake it?

Everything starts with a tiny image. The image of a man, standing by the sea in twilight and cold, waiting for the body of his wife to arrive into the beach. This image was always with me and was always occupied my mind therefore I decided to make “About Elly.”

Elaborate a bit on your approach to making your film…

This is a realistic movie and it’s a picture of a middle class family in Iranian society. But for me, it was important that this story might happen not only in Iran but could also take place around the world. Even the furthest viewer of the film can find himself in place of the film actors.

How do you define success as a filmmaker, and what are your personal goals as a filmmaker?

This film was made in a way that all viewers will judge the characters throughout the film. Compared to my other works, this is different. I don’t want viewers to feel that they are watching this film through me. I hope they “feel this movie” themselves without any mediator.

What are your future projects?

I am working on a script.

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