May 18, 2024


“Every word is true. We just didn’t have the courage to break the script. We exaggerated it to make the movie interesting.”

interesting? Yes, it’s interesting. Not everyone can talk about the oppressive situation between the Iranian people and the representatives of the state institutions with ironic humor. Alireza Khatami and his directorial partner Ali Asghari have created nine episodes of everyday life in Tehran in “Earthly Verses” (in theaters starting Thursday), without countershots. That is, the conversation situation is being filmed and behind the camera he is just one person talking to someone. You can’t see who they are, you can only hear their voices. They are representatives of authorities, institutions, or state institutions that are accountable to someone else.

what? Why would you want to name your son David? That’s a western-sounding name!

Do you wear T-shirts with Mickey Mouse on the front? Do you have any tattoos on your body? Do you have a dog? Western influence!

Are you a believer? Do you wear a veil when driving a car? Why do women have short hair?

Respondents were silent in their objections. “They are wise and eloquent defenders of individual liberty. They are champions of individual liberty.” And sometimes it can embarrass those in power.

The dialogue reflects the asymmetrical power relationship between people and the state, inadvertently creating a degree of absurdity, Khatami said. “When I show the film to my friends in the Iranian community, there is often a lot of laughter.”

speech and rebuttal

The directors were inspired by the Iranian lyrical technique of venomous dialogue, speeches, and rebuttals, which translates as “debate” for its unusual cinematic narrative form. They were also forced to shoot quickly and cheaply. “We wanted to make a film in the simplest terms. All we needed was a camera, a tripod, and an actor in front of and in front of the camera. That was all we needed to tell an effective story.” No complicated drone flight required.

One of her central interests in the film, Hatami says, was biopolitics as described by philosopher Michel Foucault. “Politics always starts with disciplining the body. This is how all power works, and we see its extreme form in Iran. It starts with what names they are given, how they are covered, who they are friends with, how they are treated, and in some cases, their bodies are examined by the authorities. When the death of a young Kurdish woman sparked unprecedented protests across Iran under the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom,” Khatami and Asghar wrote “Poetry on Earth.” He paused and pondered whether it was ethically justified to make the film. Ultimately, they continued with the project with the feeling that their film could “give us a glimpse into a future where many things will change.” Because the new generation is young, educated and will protect themselves. They definitely won’t put up with all this crap. ”

By the way, “Poems of the Earth” was not submitted to Iranian censorship authorities. “We filmed without telling them anything,” Alireza Khatami says with a laugh. “Instead, we listened to Werner Herzog: ‘Steal a camera and make a movie!'” And that’s how we did it. ”



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