"I'VE ALWAYS BEEN PASSIONATE ABOUT STORYTELLING AS WELL; BEFORE ANIMATION AND BACK IN IRAN I DID MY FIRST BA IN PAINTING."

Maryam Mohajer 
Grandad was a Romantic
Nomination: Best Animation 
Screening Session: Feb 28 | Nominated Films  
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Email

My grandad was a romantic. He once saw a picture of my granny and realised that she was the love of his life. One day he decided to go meet my granny.

Hi Maryam thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

It’s Ok, I think. Independent animators generally spent a lot of time in their own company, but I do miss people, hugs, festivals, cinemas, theatre and dancing in groups.

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Nothing to do with Covid19 itself but I have been spending more time on my new film.

Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

It’s lovely! Something to smile about.

Can you tell me a little bit about My grandad was a romantic, how did this film come about?

I was thinking about relationships and how the love stories of my grandparents’ generation in Iran are always so romantic, unexpected, spontaneous and dramatic; falling in love at first sight then travelling for days to see your beloved.

They sound a lot like fairytales that depending on who the narrator is, could change form quite dramatically.

What where the biggest challenges you faced brining your film to life?

Working with a very low budget as the film was self-funded.

During the months that I was working on the film, I didn't really  live a normal life. I spend most of the day in my tiny office (i.e attic). Days could easily go by and I hadn't spoken to one human being except for my daughter and my husband.

A big challenge is always the story; to come up with a good story and to make it work perfectly could take months. When that happens then as an animator you need to create this whole universe out of nothing. There are no limitations whatsoever, which is really great but also a bit challenging.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

No not really.

Describe your film in three words?

Funny, Romantic, very funny.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I remember myself as a kid staring at people walking, talking, eating (not very polite as I was reminded many times) etc; I have always been fascinated by people's movements and gestures. Animals too. I've always been passionate about storytelling as well; before animation and back in Iran I did my first BA in painting, but I was told that there was 'too much of a narrative' in my paintings. 

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been give?

To experiment; not to be scared and to try different things. Especially when it comes to the visual side of my work. I spent about two months experimenting with different mediums before I came up with 'the look' I wanted for Grandad was a romantic.

"Work with something that you feel connected with and be honest."

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Yes, definitely yes!

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?


Don't try too hard to come up with the “perfect” story. Work with something that you feel connected with and be honest.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from My grandad was a romantic?

I hope they have a good laugh! Also, in my films I'd like to show different people from different backgrounds simply as human beings; in every corner of the world, we all fall in love, we all may do crazy things for love and we all laugh at a good joke. At the time when there's so much talk about 'building walls' and 'sending people back where they came from', I think it's nice to see how similar we all are no matter where we come from.

© 2021 The New Current