It is said that dogs originate from wolves. They have changed over time and are now man’s best friend. Or so it is said… The Dog is a visceral exploration of violence, victimhood and responsibility. How far would you go to prevent an unwanted situation?
Hi Hesam thank you for talking to TNC, how are you held up during these very strange times?
These days are probably having the same effect on everyone around the world. We all have very similar feelings and impressions, so in order to easily pass through these strange times I just consider myself as a small part of this big collective experience and try to take it as any strange phases in the history of this world.
Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?
It probably seems weird but yes, A lot. At first, it made me paranoid like everybody around me. I had a theatre project which was cancelled because of the pandemic and I was bumped since I worked so hard on that project and I couldn’t even make any movie or any artistic project because of the lockdown. But after a few days seating in my room reading books, watching movies like anyone else, all of sudden, I realized there would be some other artistic activities to do by my own self, so it greatly helped me to write short stories, making collage, composing music and all of them was just so personal, just for me. And it makes me believe that there are so many ways that you can save your lifestyle as an artist even in this bizarre situation. If you can’t make a movie, then make music instead, if you can’t make music, do some paintings, photography, at least there is always a pen and some papers to write on, Like as Kurosawa said all we need to write a script are pen and pencil. There is no excuse to stop creating.
Congratulations on having your debut short film The Dog selected for this year's Raindance Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?
It is absolutely incredible for me especially for being among all of these talented artists around the world. And I should mention that how much proud I’m for being a part of such a great festival like Raindance with a slogan on its poster: “No Stopping Us” these words are so close to what I’m thinking today and it’s so hopeful that even with this long distance in outside world, how artists could have so many common concerns.
This will be your European Premiere, does this add any additional pressure on you?
Not a pressure but so much excitement when I can communicate with people in some other place in the world through my film because of the opportunity that Raindance gave to me.
Can you tell me a little bit about The Dog, how did this film come about?
I was a first-year film-making student and after a very small none-budget film for my class I figured out that I want to make a movie by which l would challenge myself. I was thinking about that suddenly one of my friends told me she has an empty house and ask me to help her for interior designing, when I saw the house its atmosphere caught me. suddenly, I realized that I have to tell a story about this place. In fact, the story of this film comes from a house that ring a bell to me.
"Someday my people will finally talk about their horrible and similar experiences. "
You co-wrote The Dog with Avesta Mahmoudvand, what was this experience like for you?
We were friends for one year before this film. Actually, we have a project named “Paramedia” which its main purpose is to encourage young Iranian filmmakers to keep creating with all the boundaries and limits. So, we had a history of working together before the film and I believe at this time there is no good in individualism. We should create together despite all the obstacles. And he was an incredible partner for creating art. We spent a lot of time on writing, making ideas, watching movies to get some perspective of visual storytelling.
What inspired your screenplay?
As I said in the first place there was a house I wanted to tell a story about. But at the second level I was searching for the best story to tell and making some ideas. Those were the times of the “me too” movement in America and Europe. I knew there were similar experiences in my country but there was no such thing as that “me too” movement and I was thinking that: alright, there is no such movement now but there certainly will be. Because the cycle of the power never stays still as the same. Someday my people will finally talk about their horrible and similar experiences. So I come to this story that precisely shows this concern and try to tell that there will be a change as I thought.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
Not a technical cinematic change but I wish I had more courage to push the boundaries more than now. It was my first film and I was thinking maybe it has some very disturbing scenes that repel audiences and I was a little scared of that but now I wish I didn’t pay this much attention to such fear. We made a very significant decision, we didn’t eliminate the scenes but we let them happen out of screen and left them to the audiences’ imaginations. But I figured it out that it’s the same fear that every director would experience during their first film.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
I think it came from the fact that I have to create if I want to feel alive. Filmmaking is my first priority but no matter what medium of art it is I always like to make Defamiliarization ideas and each one of them tells me which medium is the best for presenting that idea.
"I hope people understand that violence and threats will not be on the same side as it was before."
Should filmmakers continue to push their boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Absolutely, I think it’s the most important thing in art especially film making. We all have to make alternative ways of thinking. So, we should see film making as an unknown adventure, explore more and more to discover unknown places and this will not happen unless we push boundaries more and more. But also, we have to be clever about it.
Now that you have your debut film completed do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
As a young filmmaker who is still learning himself with all of his failures and successes. What I believe today –the way l try to live- is that there is no excuse to sit still and stop creating no matter what happens or what limits and obstacles are in front of us. We all have these moments of being disappointed, depressed, ignored or failures in our life but we have to know that this is not a contest, this is a path that has so many up and downs and all we should do is to enjoy going through it even if we are walking slowly, there is no destination to rush, it's not a highway, it’s a path with so many different landscapes.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from The Dog?
I hope people understand that violence and threats will not be on the same side as it was before. if we keep violating other people and harm them there will be a day that this cycle changes and the position of victim and executioner will be change with so much more violence, and it keeps getting darker and darker, because it reproduces itself and we have to break this inhuman cycle of violence before we get in the place that has no way to exit.