Shiva Sanjari talks about her documentary on the first woman filmmaker of Iran

shubham-gaur

Shubham Gaur | April 26, 2017 | New Delhi


#Here the Seats are Vacant   #documentaries   #Shiva Sanjari   #filmmaker   #On a personal note   #Iran  



Iranian documentary filmmaker Shiva Sanjari is known for her documentary Here the Seats are Vacant, about the first woman filmmaker of Iran. The movie was shown at the 13th International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) Asian Women’s Film Festival.


How did you come into documentary filmmaking?

I come from a visual arts background where I contentedly painted and made sculptures for ten years. But few years after my graduation, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was bedridden for six months. When I got better, I didn’t have the physical power to paint or sculpt. It was at that time when I thought of getting rid of the two-dimensional structure and put my skills into filmmaking and offer myself a bigger and better frame to express my feelings.

What is your movie Here the Seats Are Vacant about? 

My film is about Shahrzad (stage name), a young woman in the pre-Iranian revolution days, who was sold by her father. It’s the story of her rise and fall where she first struggled as a cabaret dancer and then become an award-winning actress, a great author, and one of the first female directors of that era. 

How did you come up with the idea?

I was born after the Iranian revolution and didn’t know anything about Shahrzad. She had become a semi-fictional figure by then. No one knew about her whereabouts or whether she is alive or not. I heard a lot about her from my grandmother. She advised me to make a film on her. Also, I wanted people to know her story and pre-revolution cinema in Iran. It took me five months to get in touch with her. I met people she was in contact with but they knew nothing about her. I asked her family members but they had disowned her a long time ago. One day, I read her interview by a French journalist who was her friend. I contacted him and he introduced me to Shahrzad. After weeks of conversations and assurance, she finally agreed for an interview. 

The movie’s title is very unique.

People were excited to see the performances of Shahrzad back then, be it in the cabaret or in the movie theatre. But now, her life has shifted from the starry audiences to a small village, with no association with her past and her identity concealed. This shows the metamorphoses of her life, from fame to the world of obscurity, where no one knows her and the seats are vacant.   

Is there any discrepancy in the number of male and female filmmakers in Iran?

Yes, there is a slight discrepancy but the reason is not patriarchal inequality. The reason for the lesser number of female filmmakers in Iran is something else. I believe when art becomes an inseparable part of one’s life. For women filmmakers, it is difficult to shoot on outdoor locations for many days, supervise work in pre and post production, be an anchor throughout the filming and accomplish all the responsibilities of a mother and housewife at the same time. It is because of the physical and psychological fatigue over the time that women generally give up on their dreams of becoming a filmmaker. 

Every country has its own culture. How do you try to make your film universally referential?

Talking globally, I would say that humans experience the same emotions of joy, gloom, betrayal, ecstasy, jealousy, vengeance, so on and so forth. An Iranian would laugh the same way as an Indian. The situations that lead emotions may be different from one country to another; but the emotions serve the real catharsis in a universal sense. Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who won the Academy Award for his film The Salesman, is a suitable example of universally referential cinema. 



 

 

Comments

 

Other News

As nation lighted lamps, power grid delivered

As Indians switched off lights in homes and lighted lamps and candles Sunday night following prime minister Narendra Modi’s appeal as a gesture of solidarity in the fight against COVID-19, the power grid held up well despite the sudden drop in demand. In a short video message on Friday

3 out of 4 Covid-19 patients in 21-60 yrs age group

Contrary to the perception that the elderly are more at risk from Covid-19, in India as many as 41.88% of corona positive cases are between 21 to 40 years of age. Also, 32.82% positive cases are between 41 to 60 years, followed by 16.69% cases above the age of 60 years and 8.61% coronavirus positive cases

Why everyone should wear mask

In view of the increasing number of COVID -19 cases in the country, the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) has now advised that everyone must voluntarily wear a mask and especially those living in densely populated areas.   Not just as a matter of maintaining personal hygiene

Fighting Covid-19, India has realized its collective strength: PM

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, people of India have realized their collective strength, prime minister Narendra Modi said in a short video message Friday morning. He also urged people to light lamps Sunday night as a gesture of this collectivity. “Today marks nine days of the na

COVID-19 demobilisation: Lessons for public governance

Demobilization, like its predecessor – demonetization, is another decision gone bad in implementation.  In both instances a careful public administrative action through its governance systems could have saved the magnitude of impact particularly on the most vulnerable sections of the society. Th

Don’t fear Corona, fight it

In a bid to break the “chain of transmission” of the deadly Covid-19, India, a country with more than 1.3 billion population, observed a voluntary ‘Janata Curfew’ on March 22. This has been followed by a 21-day, nationwide lockdown from March 24. Prime minister Narendra Modi also re



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter