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Meet the 2011 AFI Filmmakers | “Three and a Half” Director Naghi Nemati

Meet the 2011 AFI Filmmakers | "Three and a Half" Director Naghi Nemati

“Three and a Half” is the story of Hanieh, Homa and Banafsheh, three Iranian convicts who, while on temporary leave from prison, hatch a scheme to escape the country by crossing the northern border. Telling jokes and pulling pranks on each other, the young women may appear playful on the surface, but their risky gambit is deadly serious. Moving cautiously through streets, the three are denied stay by the shadiest hotels and are forced to rely on friends and suspicious characters for aid. As they get closer to the border, the stressful conditions and the secrets they hide raise tensions between the women. Despite all their obstacles, they remain quietly determined and even optimistic, buoyed by the revelation that one of them is pregnant. In his sophomore film, Naghi Nemati spins a universal tale about oppressed but resilient allies who risk it all to pursue personal freedom and a better life. [Synopsis courtesy of Dilcia Barrera, AFI FEST]

[indieWIRE invited directors with films in 2011 AFI Fest’s Breakthrough, New Auteurs and Young Americans section to submit responses in their own words about their films. Get to know the films before they screen. AFI Fest takes place November 3 – 11 in Los Angeles.]

“Three and a Half”
Director: Naghi Nemati
Screenwriter: Naghi Nemati
Producer: Mohammad-Reza Sharafodin, Seyed Amir Seyedzadeh
Director of Photography: Roozbeh Rayga
Editor: Mahmoud Ghafari, Naghi Nemati
Production Designer: Naghi Nemati
Cast: Samaneh Vafaiezadeh, Shooka Karimi, Negar Hassanzadeh, Mehdi Poormoosa

Director’s Bio: Born in 1977 in Ardebil, Iran, Naghi Nemati started making short films in 1993, many of which have won awards at international festivals. His feature debut, “Those Three,” took him two years to film in a remote snowy region of northern Iran. “Three and a Half” is his second feature film.

Responses courtesy of “Three and a Half” director Naghi Nemati.

Your movie: In 140 characters or less, what’s it about?

Three girls who obtain a temporary leave from the prison and then try to go to one Northern cities of Iran and pass the border illegally.

OK: Now tell us what it’s really about.

Hanieh, Homa and Banafsheh are three prisoners who obtain a temporary leave from the prison and then try to go to one Northern cities of Iran and pass the border illegally. 
Hanieh is desperately looking for her boyfriend as she’s pregnant, however, no one is aware of his whereabouts.

Homa steals a car and they go to a hotel but they cannot be accommodated as they do not have IDs, therefore, they overnight at the forest.
 The next day, they arrive in the border city and go to one of Homa’s relatives. They have an appointment with Nader who’s supposed to pass them from the border but he does not show up. Hanieh’s ailing situation reveals her pregnancy to Banafsheh and Homa and they take her to hospital. 
They make another appointment with Nader at border point and he and his friend steal their car and they are forced to go back to city by foot.

Hanieh who has had nosebleed through their trip, takes a HIV test at hospital and she finds out that she’s been infected by HIV by her boyfriend, Nasser. She escapes from the hospital and goes after Nader. Nader is actually, Nasser’s friend and Hanieh had just introduced him as a human smuggler to Homa and Banafsheh in order to track Nasser. Nader also becomes aware of Hanieh’s pregnancy and gives her Nasser’s address reluctantly. Hanieh goes to Nasser’s place and they confront each other.

Background in film…

I was born in 1977 in Ardebil, Iran and I graduated “Film Directing” from Soureh College of Isafahan in 2004. I started making short films since 1993 and my first short film, “Like The Umbrella of the Kids” received several awards in national festivals. I made his second short film, “The Lost Homewor” in 1999 and my next film, “The Children’s Songs” (2000), brought me several prizes like Isfahan International Children Film Festival’s Best Short Film Award. My next two short films, “Free Line” (2005) and “With Him” (2006) were shown in many national international film festivals and collected more than 10 awards at festivals in Poland, Austria, Iran. I’ve been involved in different positions in Iranian film industry as scriptwriter, editor, actor and photography and my first feature film, “Those Three,” premiered and awarded at Locarno and then showed at more than 50 festivals. “Three And A Half” is his second feature film.

A film with a message…

Annually, there are thousands of people who are immigrating from their homelands to other countries for a better life or to reach some social freedoms. Through these immigrations which are mostly illegal, there are numerous incidents waiting for each person that can totally change everyone’s destiny. I have followed the destiny of three Iranian girls who are risking their lives to improve their conditions but they are involved in a dangerous game. I have tried to depict the agonies and problems of such people and how they are victimized for their dreams and hopes. I personally hope that one day all human beings could choose the place they wish to live, travel freely and there would not be any border for human beings.

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