As the only nation-wide festival to promote Iranian films, the Iranian Film Festival Australia has some deep and cultural stories to introduce to our shores. Running for the third time in 2013, the festival will commence with internationally acclaimed Snow on Pines, directed by metallurgist-turned-director/actor, Payman Maadi.
If you had yet to consider what the film industry is like in Iran, it is something you should truly look in to.
“It’s a big industry, very successful,” Maadi explains. While we may perceive it to be new, cinema in Iran has existed since the 1930s. It is only recently, however, that films which defy cultural taboo are beginning to take flight. Films such as Snow on Pines.
“Snow on Pines is black and white cinematography, a family drama about a piano teacher, a woman (Roya), who spends time inside her house, coping with her husband’s infidelity.”
Following themes of betrayal, family, commitment, and gender rights, the film is not at all based on stereotypes, Maadi informs us. Unfortunately, breaching such cultural prohibitions resulted in a one and a half year ban for the film, following more than four years of writing and production. But that didn’t stop Maadi from sharing the plight of Iranian women. In a positive turn of events, after finally being approved, the film was well received and critically acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.
A self-professed passionate storyteller, Maadi isn’t in it for the fame and glory, despite the film being very well received in Iran, being awarded multiple accolades and making a significant impact on audiences (including religious groups). But one award in particular struck home for Maadi; the People’s Choice Award in Iran.
“It was the most important for me,” Maadi reveals. “I’m about the heart and the soul of the audience, not the impact. It’s whatever you like to think about it, I hope for people to think what they wish, about [their] own promises and commitments.” And Maadi’s not fussed if audiences don’t love it, that’s not his agenda.
“Maybe they’ll think about it on the way to work? In a world of Facebook and internet, things happen fast, there’s no time to sit, and read, and watch the classics.”
Maadi, a citizen of both Tehran and California, has not undertaken any formal or academic education for arts. He is a true storyteller at heart.
“I wrote many short stories,” Maadi reflects, contemplating his radical transition from a qualified metallurgical engineer to the arts. “I love stories and story telling, I think about them when I’m behind the wheel driving, working… everywhere.”
And a story indeed Snow on Pines will give us, as Roya is forced to make a life-changing decision between the common law or breaking tradition.
When asked about his success, Maadi reminds us, “don’t be attached to your work.” Any feedback is good feedback.
“I love to hear the opinions of other people. It helps me work on my next project.”
Snow on Pines opens in Adelaide on the 25 October for the Iranian Film Festival. Follow here to see the trailer.
Interview by Nathan Giaccio