In a new feature film, "Cul
De Sac," London-based Iranian directors Ramin Goudarzi-Nejad and
Mahshad Torkan tell the story of a lesbian woman who flees Iran's repressive
Islamic regime. The script draws on the real-life experiences of Kiana Firouz,
who plays herself in the film. Hossein Ghavimi, a correspondent for RFE/RL's
Radio Farda, asked Goudarzi-Nejad and Firouz about their motivation in making
Actress and documentary filmmaker Kiana Firouz in a scene from 'Cul de Sac'
The story is in fact based on the life of an Iranian homosexual woman
who attempts to draw the world's attention to the voices of Iranian lesbians.
She consequently finds her return to Iran impossible. She claims asylum in the
United Kingdom, but the Home Office incredibly turns the case down.
She had been making a documentary film about Iranian homosexuals back when she
lived in Iran, but the Iranian Intelligence Service found the footage and
started following her. She managed to leave the country because she realized
that the security service had become suspicious about her activities and the
existence of her film. They started to investigate regarding the identity of the
filmmaker and interviewees and the content of the documentary, but she was
already here in the U.K. to study and work for human rights.
The evidence clearly shows that she is a lesbian [facing persecution in Iran.]
But the Home Office did not consider the facts and refused her asylum
RFE/RL: What motivated you to make this movie?
Goudarzi-Nejad: I made a short film in 2007 called "Have I Ever
Happened?" which at the time was reviewed by Radio Farda. It was about an
Iranian poet who was also a lesbian. The film was screened at two international
film festivals together with other events. I received lots of messages from
Iranian homosexuals, especially lesbians, and they gave me the impression that
they were quite impressed and admired the work. They kept asking me to make more
movies about homosexuals' lives.
Once Kiana called me while she was in Iran and briefed me on her filmmaking
experiences in Iran. She was considering making a documentary film about Iranian
homosexuals. She was concerned with finding out whether there would be a chance
to screen the film after completion. I gave her my best knowledge about the
dangers and risks that she has to take into account, but she seemed determined
to do it. So I agreed to support the distribution of her film and to help
publicize the voice of this innocent, vulnerable minority internationally.
RFE/RL: Did Kiana write the script of "Cul de Sac" herself?
Goudarzi-Nejad: No, she wasn't involved with writing the
script, but it was written based on her life story.
RFE/RL (to Kiana Firouz): I'm interested in what inspired you
to act in "Cul de Sac." Can you tell us some details about your role in the
Firouz: Sure -- I played the role of an Iranian lesbian in this
film. The story is mainly based on my life.
In my opinion, the film potentially falls into the genre of docudrama. It was
important to me as an Iranian lesbian to play a role like this. I believe the
best way to enlighten people is to raise public awareness through free media,
and film is the most powerful medium that can share the difficulties that all
Iranian lesbians are experiencing. I strongly believe this film will touch
RFE/RL: What stage of completion is the film at now? Will it be screened
Firouz: The movie is scheduled to be screened next month. The
trailer has been on YouTube since December 2009, and it was watched
by more than a thousand viewers just in the first four days.
RFE/RL: Will it appear at film festivals?
Firouz: Yes, it will definitely be shown at film festivals. So
far, two film festivals in San Francisco and Canada have invited us.
RFE/RL: Can you tell us about the difficulties you've faced in applying
for asylum in the United Kingdom?
Firouz: As an Iranian lesbian activist, I sought asylum in the
U.K. My application was turned down and ignored by the Home Office, despite the
serious threats to my life that I'll face if they deport me to Iran.
I'm shattered and emotionally devastated that they have dealt with my
application so irresponsibly. A serious campaign has been already launched to
support me and save my life.
The Iranian Queer Organization and the U.K. Gay and Lesbian Immigration Group
are also supporting me. I am ready to take any further risks to fight for our
The situation for homosexuals is not only terrifying and horrible in Iran, but
also for those who have escaped to seek asylum in other free countries, mostly
signatories of the Geneva Convention, and especially Turkey. It seems to me that
fate still does not wish us a peaceful life. We are going to resist and we will
take every possible action until the day the whole world hears our voices.
Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org