15 Feb 2016

Socio-Political Representation

A few months ago I was approached by an individual to make an ‘essay film’ about Iran (employing the typical and banal images that have become the status-quo for this kind of media portrayal). I have no affinity for or comprehension of such displays on this theme and I despise these routine images. The Iran that I grew up in was indeed very different and to this day it continues to be so. Though this skewed, socio-political representation of Iran in western media is accepted and probably holds some truth, it is still something that I do not understand, whatsoever. I have avoided any such similar representation of Iran in my life and indeed in my work. I politely declined that person’s offer. 

If you are displaced from your country of origin, no matter where you are or how long you have been gone, the art organisations, festivals and audiences expect you to talk of your birth country in terms of ‘bulletin news topics’ and other such banalities. This type of expectation is increased when applied to countries of the third world, and since westerners are too frightened or anxious to travel there you must act as a delegate filmmaker; travel there, make a dull film and give them exactly what they want to hear and see in order to fortify these perceptions! Nothing outside of this box is accepted. Apparently this is your duty. Once you delve into things on a personal level and with a universal cinematic language, utilising deeply internal imagery you will not only be completely ignored but also systematically silenced. The POLITICS of nationalism, its origins and culture always seem to haunt you no matter where you go and there is no escape from it. Perhaps that is why, in my view, filmmaking in its own right is a political act, not simply political by the choice of topic or theme. If you give in and give them what they want: you are accepted. If you struggle against these horrible and clumsy perceptions: you are rejected, you lose. It is that simple. Thankfully Cinema is infinite, unknown and still being invented.