Iran News ...


Pour Un Instant: LA LIBERTE!


Austrian-Iranian film director Arash T. Riahi signs an outspoken film on the plight of Iranian refugees fleeing their homeland for freedom 

Co-produced with France For a Moment: Freedom is the First Feature Film by Austrian
director Arash T. Riahi
and Austria's 2010 Oscar Contender
for the Best Foreign Language Film.

Probably one of the advantages for Iranian Diaspora filmmakers today, is to work in their country of adoption. Be it in Europe or the United States, independent films benefit from a freedom of expression which at worst would be only challenged by financial limitations but never truly by any form of political or artistic censorship. Nevertheless it takes a great deal of courage, but also humility, to make films based on one's personal experience and share it with an audience in a way that can equally touch them but also educate them. It also takes an equal amount of talent to achieve this by avoiding stereotypes on one's community that can often lead to simplistic or inaccurate conclusions. What truly matters for a filmmaker, is to convey the universality of a given story, to which an audience can more or less identify itself to, regardless of each individuals personal and cultural background. Ultimately the storyteller's job is to help us relate to the events and challenges faced by the protagonists as they unfold before our eyes. This is precisely what a young and promising Austrian film director of Persian heritage, Arash T. Riahi's , brilliantly achieves with an excellent first feature film entitled "Pour Un Instant: La Liberté" aka "For a Moment: Freedom" about the plight of Iranian refugees fleeing their homeland Iran, in a bid for freedom and a better life. It is a collective odyssey which will challenge each and everyone of the heros with unpredictable happenings which will force them to come to terms with their share of joys and grief, success' and failures ...

Official Trailer of
"Pour Un Instant: La Liberté" aka "For a Moment: Freedom"

Not surprisingly Arash T. Riahi's film was selected as Austria's 2010 Oscar® contender for the Best Foreign Language Film.

Several stories develop separately but interact with one another  in Riahi's For a Moment, Freedom. The main story is about two children, aged 5 ½  and 6 ½ , who are being smuggled out of Iran by two young men in their 20's; their aim is to get the children to their parents in Austria. One of the other stories is about a family where the man is involved in politics; he has to flee to Turkey with his wife and child, and there he is forced to go through a bureaucratic nightmare in order to prove that he was being persecuted in Iran because of his political opinions. The third story is about a friendship between two men: an old man who fled Iran because of his support for an Iranian opposition group and who befriends a young Iraqi-Kurdish English teacher. The two develop a  tragic-comic father/son like relationship that contains the majority of the comic elements in this movie ...

For a Moment, Freedom is Arash T. Riahi first fiction feature. A native of Iran (born in 1972) he has been living in Vienna since 1982. After studying art and cinema, he started working for the Austrian national broadcaster ORF in 1995 as a freelance journalist, scriptwriter and director. He founded the production company Golden Girls Filmproduction in 1998. Before making this first feature film, he had essentially worked on animated films, adverts, and music videos as well as in a number of short documentaries he directed including The Souvenirs of Mr. X, and Exile Family Movie. The latter experience was to allow him to collect testimonies from various exiled Iranian families, including his own, which eventually served as an authentic input into the script of his first feature length movie drama.

Left Director Arash T. Riahi Right actress Behi Djanati Atai ©Arash T.Riahi & ©


I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Arash T. Riahi and one of his actors, Mrs. Behi Djanati Atai (daughter of famous playwright, poet Iraj Jannatie-Ataie) who plays the wife of one of the political refugees in this story.

Darius KADIVAR (DK): François Truffaut, the great film critic and director, once said:  "There are films that make you love life and then there are others ...". Do you share that assessment ?

Arash T. Riahi (ATR): Definitely yes. And I must say I love life very much myself! (Laughs) ... That is why I personally prefer to promote life in my films. I want to make people laugh and cry as well as allow them feel life in all it's diversity. I like to create at least a few moments which have a special meaning to some people out there. I also see my humanistic films as a weapon against unsocial societies or dictatorships which threaten free life.     

Behi Djanati Ataï (BDA): Isn't this ultimately what cinema is all about and males it such a successful medum ? There are films for all kinds of people, and it really doesn't matter if they are masterpieces or not. But if one film, one day, touches be it only one person's heart, and gives this heart the courage and strength to carry on, then it means we achieved our aim. This has been going on since the very dawn of filmmaking. Truffaut's words can be understood in many ways, and I think one maybe that there is a story for everybody, a film for everybody ... 

DK: What were the films you grew up with as a child but also later on as a film student and now director ? Are there any which influenced you particularly in your work or shaped you be it creatively, emotionally, or visually ?

ATR: When I was a child in Iran, most of the films that were shown there were Kurosawa's movies and politically motivated or propaganda movies from the former Soviet Union or the former communist eastern block countries. I guess the main reason for that was that there were no women present in these films ! ...  So the films weren't truly censored by the Islamic regime. Anyway Kurosawa is great and some of the politically motivated/propaganda films also happened to be great anti-war movies which  I have never had to opportunity to ever see again since. When we moved to Europe I started to watch all the classics movies I could find as well as some  mediocre films which were shown on tv. Then one day when I was 16 I accidentally saw  Francesco Rosi movie "Three Brothers". That was the very first "serious" arthouse movie that I've saw and from that day my interest for what I consider as being quality films started. I remember that the first film that truly made me cry was "La notte" by Antonioni (Note: Asghar Farhadi made a remake under the title "About Elly" ). I also began to collect films and record them from tv and now I find myself with a huge collection of more than 5000 films at home ... (Laughs).  I know that I will never have the time to watch them all but it's a good feeling to be surrounded by so many films and have them available at any time. There are a lot of directors and movies that I admire, especially those who are trying to push the bounderies of filmmaking. Maybe that's the reason why amongst my favourite directors you will find Jean Luc Godard, Lars von Trier and John Cassavates but also Woody Allen.

DK: This is your first major breakthrough in film. A first movie is often a very personal one. What motivated your choice for this particular story ? Are there elements which echo your own personal or family experiences ?

ATR: I think it's always good when your first film is about a subject which you are very close to and you know a lot about. In my case that was the situation of having to leave my country because of political reasons and having to live in exile instead of with my beloved relatives. I experienced this when I was 9 years old when I  had to flee out of Iran with my parents. My last documentary " Exile Family Movie " was about the life of my family in the last 15 years caught between Europe and the USA. The work on that film helped me understand the inner feelings of refugees during their lives in exile. For my first feature length film For a Moment, Freedom ,I wanted to make a film that takes place in between the countries of departure and arrival of the refugees in question. I wanted to show what people go through when they are forced to leave their country and home in order to come to Europe in a bid for freedom. That way the audience can clearly see that these refugees definitively had no other choice but to seek assylum.




DK: Making this film must have been quite a challenge given the numerous outdoor scenes shot in the mountains and drastic climate ... How did the cast and crew cope with these difficulties ? Were there any scenes shot in Studio ?

ATR: The shooting was really very difficult. Firstly because of the fact that we shot in remote Turkish regions without any film-infrastructure at hand and secondly because of the difficult climate and landscape. When you write a screenplay it's easy to imagine that the children will be sitting on horseback and climbing snowy montains but then you have to bring this short lines you wrote to life and make it look real. This is something that you tend to underestimate sometimes. And some things were simply not possible to shoot on location like the interiors such as the hotel rooms. These sets were built in an Austrian studio.

DK: You also chose to work equally with confirmed actors like Behi, but also non professionals particularly with two child stars. How did both groups cope ? Did you have to modify anything in your directing approach particularly when having to choose between what was written in the script and what you could truly print on film when improvising with your novice actors ?

ATR: We spent over a year and a half casting for the film in Berlin and then in Stockholm,and  later on in London, Paris, Vienna, and then again in Leipzig and Frankfurt. Things were made more difficult because of our own demands: we wanted Iranian actors who spoke Farsi (Persian) without any accent. Also, some of them had to be in their early 20's, and of course above all they had to be good actors. In addition to that, we needed three children aged between five and seven, who also spoke Farsi without any accent. But more importantly, these actors and crew had to be willing to work on a film which criticises the regime of their home country Iran. That automatically forced us to excluded anyone who wanted to go back to Iran. In the end we had a mix of professional and first time actors working on the film. Some of the actors changed their names for security reasons. However the real challenge was to direct them in such a way that they appear as equally important to the audience. During the shooting I had to pay careful attention to everyone so that no actor felt left alone or ignored. This was particularly difficult in the scenes with the children but also the non professional first time actors, because they needed permanent attention in order to encourage their self confidence. I talked a lot with the actors about their character's motivation and the interesting thing was that all of the actors, professional or not, felt very close to the film's topic. Some were refugees themselves or the children of refugee or immigrant parents. So the film's theme was already a part of all our lives and we all saw it as a manifesto of resistance and a tribute to the struggle of millions of refugees around the world. This helped a lot to keep everything coherently together although I have to admit we also had some very tough times.

 ©  & Photocomposition ©DK


DK: As an Actress, Behi, how did you work through your character ? Did you also need to dig into personal experiences to create Lalé's personality ?  

BDA: Well each actor has his or her own way of working on a given character. Even when you have a similar training, you ultimately do it your own way, because each person is different and has different personal and professional experiences. My life has been rich with emotions and feelings; my own past is full of contrasted visions. So why not use them? I'm belong to the school that explores emotional interiority; I'm always searching inside myself, I try to dig in my memory and experiences, so as to channel these emotions towards a more universal statement on mankind in general. If by your question you mean "If as an actress who also happens to be Iranian did I share some similar experiences as my character or was inspired by people close to me or in my entourage with the same kind of experience ?", the answer is definitively yes.

DK: What kind of director is Arash ? Does he allow actors to improvise or on the contrary expects you to work within the boundaries of his script and therefore imagination ?

BDA: Arash is a very bright and creative director. He adapts his way of working to each actor. Before shooting, we made read the script together several times, we talked about the character and on the way I see her. Whilst shooting, we had the freedom to improvise a lot. He allowed me play the character as I felt her; he listened to all my suggestions. There is even one scene in the movie which is totally improvised and very different from the original one in the script.

DK: Arash your film was shot partly on the frontier that separates Turkey from Iran and where many refugees are said to cross the boarder every day. Having left Iran for more than 30 years now, was it an emotional experience to be so close to your home country and yet not really able to cross the border ?  

ATR: Oh yes absolutely !... Actually when I was on location on the Turkish border city of Van, doing my research for the movie , I happened to be only two hours away by car from my own homeland. But I must admit that even if I have an enormous desire to go back one day to see my relatives and the places of my childhood ... I still prefer to live in a free and democratic country in Europe rather than in a country where the government doesn't even know how to spell the word "human rights"...

DK: The predicament of refugees particularly from the Middle East but also Eastern Europe in the European Union has been recently the subject of several critically acclaimed movies. One can mention Greek Director Costa Gavras' West of Eden, German Turk director Fatih Akin's Auf der anderen Seite (French title: De L'Autre Coté) aka The Edge of Heaven, or French Philippe Lioret's Welcome ( In which Behi also plays a small part). All these films point out to the complexities of immigration for both the immigrants as well as for the society which has a duty to accept them. On the other hand bureaucracy and legislations can lead to dramatic not to say tragic situations for those who try to apply. If often it is a question of life and death for political refugees, as rightly illustrated in your film. Opponents to massive immigration however argue that Europe cannot accept all the problems of the world. What is your response to such detractors ?

ATR: I'm sorry but this is all fake propaganda created by the right wing and conservative forces in Europe. Actually the confirmed numbers of the refugees that enter Europe represents only 1% of the refugee population that exist in the world. The majority of the worlds refugees are dispatched between countries like Pakistan, Iran or some very some poor African countries. Compared to that, helping one percent of the world refugees is something that prosperous countries in Europe or the Western democracies can afford. But unfortunately their governments prefer to spend millions of Euros or dollars building fences, training security or building armies and weapons to hold back these refugees.

©Timée Editions (*)

One of the reasons for that is that most of the European governments have business relationships with the dictators which run the countries these refugees are fleeing. For example the German company Siemens and the Finnish company Nokia provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with the most modern communication systems that allow monitoring phonecalls, the internet and other electronical communication used by Iranian people back home. With these external support the regime in Iran manages to maintain a high level  of oppression. ( See Amnesty International 2009 Report on Iran's disastrous Human Rights Record )

Cases of Human Rights Violations in Iran in recent years:

·          Mansour Osanloo Bus Union Leader testifies on his Torture by Islamic Republic's Agents. He was imprisoned several times from 2005 to 2008. Osanloo is currently held in the notoriously infamous Evin Prison, serving a five-year prison sentence. Video Here

·          CBS reports Canadian Photographer Zahra Kazemi found dead in mysterious circumstance. Kazemi's son demands justice on this case to this day. Doctor Shahram Azam who examined the body testifies. Video Here

·          Neda Agha Sultan & many others killed by Iran's Basij & Militia forces post election Video Here


DK: Even if your film tackles serious issues, you still tried to find a balance between comedy and drama. Was this intentional ?

ATR: For me the proximity between tragic and funny situations is extremely important. I consider humour as the best survival technique ever invented. If you don't keep at least a minimum of your humour when you are in such extreme situations as these refugees have been, you can only be destroyed by the brutality of your own situation. This is what happens to one of the characters in the film and I have known many other people in similar situations in real life. After all, there isn't a great deal more you can hold on to except humor.

DK: Until quite recently, most Iranian films avoided to address political issues directly. Even film maestros like Abbas Kiarostami or Makhmalbaf never truly challenged the Iranian regime on such questions like human rights ( although both particularly Makhmalbaf have been very vocal in regard to the recent events in Iran). Your film was made prior to the Post Election Protests and yet you boldly chose to denounce the "totalitarian" nature of the regime which appears in key scenes of the movie. You particularly denounce Iran's current Secret Services the VEVAK (which has since replaced the Shah's equally notorious SAVAK) which does not hesitate to kidnap refugees and even use torture to exhort confessions from their victims. Were these scenes based on specific testimonies you were able to collect from real victims ?

ATR: I was able to spend a lot of years researching on this subject and during my time  in Turkey I had a lot of interviews with real refugees, who told me details about the activities of the Iranian secret police. People are beaten up, sometimes they disappear and are never found again orwhen they do they end up in an Iranian prison. There are also several lists on the internet with the names of the people they have been  killed outside Iran. I had the feeling that these criminal activities finally should be denounced. I also think that we, the Iranian Exile filmmakers have the duty to make films about Iran, which the Iranian directors do not do either because they are part of the system or cannot do because they fear for their life or risk losing their work permit in Iran.

DK: On a different note but nevertheless related to this conversation, I read in an interview you gave to the French Magazine "Paris Match" in which you seemed to have even hinted to the probability of an upheaval if the election results led to the re-election of Ahmadinejad. The events that followed proved that you were right. What was your reaction to the recent protests that took place in Iran ?

ATR: It was very exciting and for the first time I had real hope for changes in Iran. Although it seems that the government was able to suppress the people again, we should not forget that there is now a major fracture in Iranian society, which did not exist prior to this election. The government has no legitimacy anymore, even within most of the religious parts of the society. Given that two ( Rezaie and Ahmadinejad) out of the four selected candidates ( Karroubi, Moussavi, Rezaie and Ahmadinejad) accepted the absurd results of the elections denouncedso vehemently by a large majority of the people, then you can imagine how betrayed Iranian society must feel ? For me this is the beginning of their end, even though it may still take years to get rid of the regime. The most dangerous thing that can happen now is that one of the so called more liberal leaders comes to power. That might sound absurd at first sight but I think that these people who accepted the Velayate Fagih, the Islamic Rules of law for the past 30 years will only prolong the survival of  this system much  longer by only delivering the people some superficial freedoms. There is nothing like a "light" or "sugar free" democracy ! The only solution is a secular system of government. Such a democratic system can then help all the participants in our civil society in the making be it: the people, the politicians or the religious members of society.


©  & Photocomposition ©DK

 DK: Behi you were particularly active last summer and even to this day in rallying intellectuals in Paris, France in support for the Green Protests this summer. Amongst them one can mention, French philosopher Bernard Henri Levi, director Marjane Satrapi or writer Marek Halter. Has this been useful in alerting public opinion in regard to the situation in Iran today ? Do you feel it has become much easier for you as an Artist to also convey this reality more easily than prior to these dramatic events ?

BDA: Ever since the early days of Greek theater, artists have always been at the forefront of critical thinking and took upon themselves to portray dramatic characters and situations which could resonate with the real tragedies of their times. Take Shakespeare and his critics of his time. Elizabethan Actors knew even in those early days of British Theater what they were saying or suggesting to the audience about the politics of their leaders. They took their responsibilities much more seriously than they do today, and often by taking personal risks to express themselves. Today I believe it is quite the same. But the banalization of information in the world media be it when covering wars, violence, or natural disasters ...  in short death makes our job uneasy. It is obvious that many artists do care about what is taking place in the rest of the world, but how many of them who are lucky to be in the spotlight truly care about anything more than their own career or self  promotion ? We see now and then people in the public eye who will graciously appear in the right place, the right rally, the right event, and then vanished completely and join another cause. That's why I feel that my position as an artist today  is fragile and uneasy. I am Iranian, I feel Iranian, and I try to do my duty as best as I can  towards my people and my country, but  I certainly don't want to be here for the show. I do not want to play a character when I dedicate myself to a just cause even if I must admit that my job helps me to handle the press, but I don't want to mix things, which is difficult. When a question on this particular film appears, I try to  answer in a way which highlights the recent tragic events in Iran as we see them unfold today and not particularly attempt to draw attention on my own persona.

DK: It seems that after a long period of absence Iranian films are making a comeback this year in Film Festivals like Venice for instance. However for the first time it seems the Diaspora Films and Iranian National productions co-exist with such films like Shirine Neshat's much expected Women without Men, and Hana Makhmalbaf's Green Days . Do you see an avenue for cooperation or creative exchange between these two apparently separate cinemas ?

ATR: I wish this would be possible but my impression so far is that the people who work in Iran try to avoid any official connection with us because they are afraid of the government. Only those who decide not to go back are different. But of course there is a dialogue between the artists behind the scenes, when the journalists and the cameras are not on. That's when they say what they really think about the government and the regime.

BDA: I really don't know. I didn't see any of these movies yet, but as you said for me they belong to two entirely different worlds. Two different visions of Iran and film art. I'm not the best person to answer this question. I suppose they have always co-existed but the festivals were more interested in having the movies "coming from Iran about Iran" rather than the ones made  outside Iran by the Diaspora. Maybe times are changing ? I don't know ... All I hope is that new and challenging films will be done, while preserving the freedom of the directors and the creative team involved in their making.

DK: It seems that European Cinema and TV have been highlighting more and more Iranian Diaspora actors in recent years. The success of such stand up comedians like Omid Djalili or Shappi Khorsandi in Great Britain, Marjane Satrapi and Behi (Djanati Atai) in France, Jasmine Tabatabai and Navíd Akhavan in Germany. I also recently discovered Michael Niavarani (who plays a very small but significant role) who is particularly popular in Austria and Germany for his Stand Up Comedy's and a brilliant comedy "Salami Aleikum". Are you encouraged by this thriving Iranian Diaspora Arts Community in Europe ? Do you see this as an opportunity for more cooperation between Iranian Actors and filmmakers across Europe ?

ATR: I like this movement very much. I think a new generation is now old enough to articulate itself. It's the generation of the children of those who fled Iran 30 years ago. And the more of us are out there, the bigger our influence and voice will be. And this voice is going to be heard by Iranians but also non Iranians more and more  ...

BDA: I hope so too. European productions and castings are far back in the race, compared to North America, where people are used to writing roles for all ethnic groups present on their territory. A thriving immigrant population in Europe can only help increase the number of media customers and viewers while encouraging a melting pot of talents to express themselves through the film and tv mediums in the years to come. In France, this trend has been much slower and auditions for colored people in movies or tv sitcoms have been exceptionally small. Now however it's getting better. But I'm talking here about TV productions, more or less. In the Film industry, it truly depends on the script. Few filmmakers take the risk of writing roles for a different ethnic group than their own ... I mean for the major parts, and the one's who are "typés"(aka "typecast") , as we say here in France, always end up with only supporting roles.  

DK: Your Film has been selected to represent Austria in Best Foreign Film Category at the 2010 Oscar ® Race. Was this an unexpected and yet happy surprise ?

ATR: Yes, of course you have always hope that your film becomes a good one but you don't nessesarily expect your first film to be your counrty's choice for such an event like the Oscars®. Of course I'm very happy about this and terribly  honored. But what makes me even more happy are two facts: one is that I think it's a very good political statement from a country like Austria to choose such a film to represent it, knowing that about 40% of the population is very right wing and hostile to foreigners. And if I happen to be nominated or win something it will help to promote the film and it's political message so that it can be spread around as much as possible.

BDA: As you're saying it, this was an unexpected and yet happy surprise! Let's cross fingers. (Laughs)


DK: Do you follow the works of your fellow Iranian colleagues in the United States such as directors Reza S. Badiyi, Babak Shokrian, Cyrus Nowrasteh or actors like Shohreh Aghdashloo, Adrian Pasdar, Sarah Shahi, Maz Jobrani to name a few ? Do they inspire you ?

ATR: I try to but unfortunately I only get to see the films that win in major festivals or find their way to the European cinemas. But every two years there is the Exile Film Festival in Göteborg and I try to go there and get an overview.

BDA: I try to follow as much as I can. When I was a child, my father used to speak often of Mr. Badiyi and I've seen some of his work, but I must  confess that I have no idea of what he does right now... Shohreh Aghdashloo is a great actress, I discovered her in "House of sand & fog" and  I try to follow her work as often as I can. Omid Djalili is doing also an amazing job, he was great as Picasso in "Modigliani" opposite Andy Garcia and Elsa Zilberstein. I also saw some of Maz Jobrani's work on the internet lately and he's very funny in his stand up comedies and he makes good fun of us Iranians as a community in the Diaspora.

DK: Beyond the Language barrier, do you see fundamental differences in style between films made by Iranians in Hollywood and those made by Iranians like you in Europe ? Are you tempted by a Hollywood Experience be it on a Big Production or Independent Film ?

ATR: I can't really answer your question properly because I don't know enough of the Iranian Hollywood filmmakers but I surely see differences between the Hollywood way of filmmaking and the European way. Here in Europe films are more considered as an Artform and less like a commercial consuming product which is often the case with Hollywood productions. I see more similarities of our film industry here in Europe with that of the American Independant productions as showcased for instance at the Sundance film festival. All in all I think in Europe unlike in Hollywood, a film's artistic recognition, critical claim, and or success does not just depend entirely on it's box office results.

DK: Finally what message or lesson would you like the public to receive after seeing your movie ?

ATR: The very notion of "Freedom" is for me a central part of human rights in general. It's a given right and people should not have to fight for it ... Unfortunately however people's freedom is often severely violated in many parts of the world. As a filmmaker, I see it a duty, to fight against these violations through my work by raising people's awareness. Therefore I hope that my film will help open eyes, hearts and minds of the audience on the subject of Freedom and Human Rights.

DK: It is always quite exciting to discover a new and promising director and a talented cast. So I would like to congratulate you both for this heartwarming movie and look forward to your upcoming projects.

Arash T. Riahi (ATR): Thank You Darius ...

Behi Djanati Ataï (BDA): Thank you Darius, what else? I just hope that filmmakers will continue to fight for ideas and freedom, fight against war and injustice.

A Overview of Iranian Diaspora Cinema:

If in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, the first generation of Iranian Diaspora filmmakers such as Parviz Sayyad, whose film Ferestadeh aka The Mission (starring Sayyad and Mary Apick, Houshang Touzie), had more difficulties in drawing global attention to their works ( despite acknowledgments at some selective and specific film festivals). This was essentially due to the fact that the West in general was less informed on the realities of the Middle East and Iran in particular. Our compatriots were often  reduced to stereotypes, as in the controversial film Not Without My Daughter, based on the equally controversial and rather biased book by Betty Mahmoody. Ever since September 11th however, and the so-called War on Terror which set out America's militarily involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the  entire Middle East has become the focal point of the  international media, very much like South East Asia was during the Vietnam War in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In the same way that American Cinema was greatly influenced by the Post-Vietnam generation as illustrated in such great films as Apocalypse Now, The Dear Hunter or Born on the Fourth of July , the harsh realities of the Middle East conflicts in the past 9 years have strongly influenced both Hollywood productions as well as European independent and commercial cinema. Naturally the second generation of Iranian Diaspora filmmakers/actors have contributed to this new trend. To name a few: Marjane Satrapi and her groundbreaking animated film Persepolis, or Shohreh Aghdashloo for her Oscar nominated performance in "The House of Sand and Fog" or more recently with her Emmy Award Performance in The House of Saddam ( although playing not an Iranian but the wife of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein) prove if needed the box office potential and critical success of  genuine stories relative to the lives and challenges of the Iranian exiled community and the ever growing success of Iranian Diaspora actors and directors in the film community. Ramin Serry's Maryam ( hailed by prominent critic Roger Ebert as a "powerful, important and very moving picture") takes a bitter sweet look at the life of an Iranian-born teenager living in suburban New Jersey thinks of herself as simply an American until anti-Iranian sentiment erupts in her community after American hostages are held in Iran. Babak Shokrian's America So Beautiful  depicts the "lost generation" of Iranian expats in the immediate aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 who are caught between two worlds where they feel equally rejected and misunderstood. In recent years Human Rights violations by the Islamic Republic have been boldly dealt with particularly in two major Diaspora productions: Cyrus Nowrasteh "The Stoning of Soraya M." Based on a true account by the late French Iranian journalist and war correspondent Fereidoune Sahebjam about the medieval treatment of a woman accused of adultery in a remote villiage and stoned to death as a result. In Germany, Iranian born actress Jasmin Tabatabai boldly tackles the predicament of homosexuals in Iran (the existence and dramatic plight of which has been outrageously denied by the current President Ahmadinejad ) but also that of the Iranian expat community in Germany thanks to a breathtaking performance in Angelina Maccarone 's Fremde Haut aka  Unvieled. American director of Kurdish heritage Jay Jonroy's David and Layla is a Love Story between a Kurdish Expatriate and a Jewish American in NY which humorously challenges the difficulties of overcoming religious and racial prejudice in both communities. Jonroy's cinematography and humerous eye reminds us of some of Woody Allen's first movies and enhanced by the talented presence of a fresh new cast such as Iranian American actress Shiva Rose McDermott ( daughter of Iranian TV Showman Parviz Gharibafshar) and co-star David Moscow in a not so unlikely love story set in Post September 11th New York. Last Summer, Iranian artist Shirin Neshat picked up the Silver Lion for best director at this year's Venice Film Festival. Best known for her photographic and video art, Neshat was awarded the prize for Women Without Men, a film about four women living through Iran's turbulent years amidst the 1953 coup that toppled the nationalist government of Dr. Mohamed Mossadegh.

It is therefore interesting to notice that an ever more outspoken generation of Iranian Diaspora filmmakers are emerging in the competitive international film community ...

Interview with actress Golshifteh Farahani on French TV about her latest film "About Elly" and her views on Iranian Society and the difficulties of making an outspoken film in Iran.



Young men and women who are adamant to boldly bring to the screen, their own often complex past within a historical, political or cultural context. This is all the more remarkable that they meet the challenge without the fear of ridicule nor any self imposed censorship in denouncing the social or psychological taboos faced by their community and generation. Their outspokenness also refreshingly contrasts with the films of their fellow colleagues back home, who due to absurd levels of state imposed censorship tend to take a more "experimental" approach to filmmaking which often boils down to badly imitated "à la Kiarostami" or "à la Makhmalbaf" metaphors (alas often without the same brio) when faced with issues that are deemed too "subversive" to be submitted bluntly to the Iranian government's censors. Bahman Ghobadi's Latest film
Nobody Knows About the Persian Cats two stars of which have recently seeked asylum in Britain ) about the difficulties of Iranian "underground" musicians working in the Islamic Republic is another sad evidence of how Iran's cultural censors discourage any creative form of expression. Not surprisingly Ghobadi's film, which was awarded at Cannes this year, has not been authorized to screen in Iran.

The current political crisis in Iran following the post election protests have led to exile prominent Iranian artists many of whom greatly participated in the revival of Iran's post revolution Cinema to world acclaim. Mohsen Makhmalbaf and his daughters Hana and Samira have chosen self exile in a bid to speak more freely about the plight of their fellow compatriots and colleagues back home. A highly noticed joint press conference with Makhmalbaf and diaspora director Marjane Satrapi in Brussels denouncing the Post Election Fraud and the Iranian regime's clampdowning of peaceful protests was testimony to the fact that Iranian diaspora and native directors have found a common ground for dialogue and mutual recognition. Could this be the begining of a new era of cooperation between two film communities that have overlooked one another due to political and language barriers but also geographical distances ? One can hope so all the more that confirmed actors like Golshifteh Farahani or acclaimed directors like Abbas Kiarostami have been pioneering collaboration with Hollywood ( Golshifteh opposite Leonardo Di Caprio in Ridely Scott's Body of Lies and her upcoming movie in Rolan Joffé's There be Dragons currently in production) and European productions ( Kiarostami wrapped up filming "Certified Copy" with Juliette Binoche in his first production outside Iran).

© & photocomposition ©DK

In this new context, Arash T. Riahi's "Pour Un Instant: La Liberté" aka "For a Moment: Freedom" refreshingly combines creative ambition with a bold political as well as humanistic message that can leave no viewer indifferent. It will certainly contribute to a better understanding of ourselves as a community in exile while also strongly and generously echoing , the plight of our brave and heroic compatriots left behind, in their struggle back home, for democracy, human rights and freedom.




Authors Notes: 

Arash T. Riahi's film company: Golden Girls Film Production

For a Moment, Freedom the Official Website ( In French)

For a Moment, Freedom the Official Blog (In French)

For a Moment, Freedom
was co-produced and distributed with the help of the French movie company Les Films du Losanges

Recommended Book:

A new and controversial book has been recently published in French about the history of the infamous Secret Services of the Islamic Republic. The author is Yves Bonnet the former Head of the DST the French Secret Services. It is not yet available in English or Persian but can be purchased on in it's original French publication:

Vevak, au service des ayatollahs : Histoire des services secrets iraniens
de Yves Bonnet

Recommended Readings: 

On Human Rights:

The Struggle Continues!: Nazanin Afshin-Jam New Human Rights Campaign to Stop Child Executions in Iran and Beyond By Darius KADIVAR
Iranian Diaspora Intelligentsia Unite Against Islamic Republic's Holocaust Revisionism by Darius KADIVAR
Iran, Jews and the Holocaust The beneficent legacy of Persia remembered by Abbas Milani (San Francisco Gate)

Diaspora Film Festival & Community:

Noor Film Festival Lights Your Way to Hollywood by Darius KADIVAR
Eye of the Tiger: Marjane Satrapi and the Persepolis generation by Darius KADIVAR
Persian Golden Boys In Hollywood by Darius KADIVAR
THE LAST TV TYCOON: Interview with Legendary director REZA BADIYI By Darius KADIVAR & Parisa Defaie
Close Up on Shohreh Aghdashloo by Darius KADIVAR & Parisa DEFAIE
A PERSIAN ROSE BLOOMS: An Interview with actress Shiva Rose McDermott by Darius KADIVAR & Parisa DEFAIE
In the Arena with Omid Djalili by Darius KADIVAR
Nailing the Script: Cyrus Nowrasteh's new challenges  by Darius KADIVAR

On Hollywood, Iran and Politics:

A DIRECTOR'S CUT: Hollywood Director Cyrus Nowrasteh Brings Fereidoune Sahabjam's Best Selling Novel To The Screen By Darius KADIVAR
Banned Hollywood Dream: Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani troubled over a Body of Lies By Darius KADIVAR
PARTNERS ON LOLITA: Deepa Mehta and Azar Nafisi Team Up for Screen adaptation of reading Lolita in Tehran  By Darius KADIVAR
Stoning Bush: Oliver Stone's Bio Epic on US President by Darius KADIVAR
IMAGINE TEHRAN !:Brian Grazer and Ron Howard option Richard Regen's spec script on Love Amidst Iranian Revolution by Darius KADIVAR
Prisoner of Conscience: Akbar Ganji and Costa Gavras' Confession By Darius KADIVAR
Syriana Breaks Iranian Stereotypes by Darius KADIVAR
George Clooney's Great Escape! by Darius KADIVAR
By George ! U.N. Messenger of Peace, George Clooney, Expresses Wish to Visit Iran by Darius KADIVAR
REZA's CALL: An Iranian Solidarnosc... by Darius KADIVAR
Sean Penn's Last Frontier by Darius KADIVAR
The House of Saddam by Darius KADIVAR
Between Two Rivers: Shohreh Aghdashloo cast as Saddam's wife in HBO-BBC mini tv series by Darius KADIVAR
An Interview with Cyrus Nowrasteh by Darius KADIVAR and Shabnam REZAEI (PersianMirror)
Nailing the Script: Hollywood Screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh's new challenges by Darius KADIVAR
Mona's Dream by Darius KADIVAR
"America So Beautiful": Babak Shokrian's bitter sweet look on the American Dream by Darius KADIVAR
David & Layla : When Love Transcends Religious Prejudice by Darius KADIVAR (PersianMirror)
ShockWave Aghdashloo's Dina Araz hits France by Darius KADIVAR
BINOCHE FEMME DANGEREUSE!: Juliette Binoche's Iran Visits Stir Two MPs' Xenophobia by Darius KADIVAR
MARZIEH: At 82 Is MKO Diva Bidding Farewell to Political Activism or to Music Career? by Darius KADIVAR
Iranian Expat Celebrities get passionate over French Presidential Elections by Darius KADIVAR
New Faces in French Politics of Persian Heritage by Darius KADIVAR
Eye of the Tiger and the Persepolis Generation by Darius KADIVAR
U.S. cast for Satrapi's Persepolis announced by Darius KADIVAR
BREAKING THE WAVES: Iranian Women of the Diaspora Seduce French Media By Darius KADIVAR
Iranian Diaspora Intelligentsia Unite Against Islamic Republic's Holocaust Revisionism by Darius KADIVAR
Iran, Jews and the Holocaust The beneficent legacy of Persia remembered by Abbas Milani (San Francisco Gate)

About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Media Consultant. He is also contributes to OCPC Magazine in LA/US and to the London Based IC Publications The Middle East Magazine and Persian Heritage Magazine.


... Payvand News - 12/16/09 ... --

comments powered by Disqus

Home | ArchiveContact | About |  Web Sites | Bookstore | Persian Calendar | twitter | facebook | RSS Feed

© Copyright 2009 NetNative (All Rights Reserved)