The director of ‘The Persian Version’ has always lived in the middle | ET REALITY


I struggled with two things. One was the balance between comedy and drama. It was another to have an epic story that was so intimate. That was very important to me, not to get lost in the details of the period, but to know that this is essentially a story of three women and to really ground it. And to do that, I decided that each character would have a different gender that reflected who they are: to make the daughter more 80s and 90s pop. The grandmother is a great storyteller, as all grandmothers are, which is why she buys a spaghetti western. And then the mother, who, although she has created a new identity, is still traumatized by an old past: what you normally think of Persian films, which is like a (Abbas) Kiarostami type film.

For me, it was important that the three women could at least tell their side of the story. When I was writing it, I couldn’t figure out the story until I realized my mother was the other writer. Because she came to this country to write her own future, to rewrite her life. Once I understood that, everything else fell into place. I realized that all men are just a chorus of our stories. And usually it’s the other way around.

On that note, do you really have eight siblings?

In real life I have seven brothers. In history I have eight. But I grew up with a bathroom. I am very traumatized to this day. I just have to have my own bathroom. (laughs)

The chaos of many siblings certainly adds levity. The film, despite tackling serious themes, is also very much a comedy packed with great food scenes, choreographed dance sequences, and tons of music, including Wet Leg at the beginning, but also Cyndi Lauper and Gagoosh.

Certainly, when I was a child, Iran was synonymous with terrorist. And that was not my experience with Iran or the Iranians. I say, “We are so lazy. How can we be terrorists? “We like to take long naps after lunch.” But honestly, it’s not the people I know; It’s not the culture and the celebration, the music, the food. That’s also a real political question: what aspects of our culture are shown. I mean, if we can dehumanize people, it will be much easier to invade them, kill them, take away their oil and create nameless wars, faceless wars. So I think the reason I got into filmmaking after 9/11 was to create a more nuanced view of our world. This film is in a way the culmination of my entire career. I don’t believe in all this divisive rhetoric and I feel like humor is a way to connect.

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