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Interview with director Maliheh Gholamzadeh

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I was lucky because since childhood whatever I’ve done has been supported by my creative artist mother. The feeling of having experience in all branches of art led me to perpetually change my profession. I’ve experienced painting, sculpture, music, theater, calligraphy, photography and whatever possible. In some of these fields, I stopped experiencing after some attempts.

I always regretted that I didn’t complete one of these disciplines until I started studying in animation. Then I found that it is the only medium by which I can express myself by combining all I’ve experienced before in a real form, not just as a simple influence of art disciplines on each other.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Learning the basics of filmmaking is one of the essentials of making a film that can be learned at film institutions. But in my opinion, to be a successful filmmaker, no institution can make you successful. It is the filmmaker’s particular vision and expression that bring about success.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

This is my first serious experience in filmmaking, and I know that more problems are ahead. To make my first film, I had to ignore some opportunities and my biggest concerns were lack of experience and fear of achieving a result different from what I had in mind. But now, my only concern is making progress and avoiding repetition.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

I’ve learned two things that it’s never too late to start, and to achieve elusive dreams, one should be risky and brave.

I started my M.A. at the age of thirtytwo, and at the age of thirtyfive, I made my first film, for which I left my job and the city I lived in, and I followed my dreams. That decision seemed scary and unreasonable, but it seemed that everything and everyone came together to accompany me in the difficult decision I made so that I realize it again how happy I am.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

As I said before, I am an empiricist, and I liked to experience all parts and stages of the production personally as far as I could. That’s why I did character design, background, animation, color and light by myself. Therefore, many of the problems and concerns of teamwork were eliminated. But in the music and sound section, in order to be able to explain what I have in mind for the composer and sound editor, I decided to use the selected music to create a common language. Therefore, the music was made and the sound was edited.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Choosing the concept, which was the visual language of the film, was one of the most difficult stages. After that, making music and dubbing was the most challenging stage of the production.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

In choosing team members, expertise alone is not enough. Having similar thoughts and feelings is very effective in the progress of work. If the team members do not have a sense of belonging and they only work for money, they will definitely disturb the other members. So I try to find experienced people with whom the others cooperated and they are confirmed in terms of commitment and morality.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

I think the audiences hate exaggeration and want to receive the story in the simplest and the most ordinary way. It’s great for filmmakers to have their personal style, but if they ignore the audience, they will make films for their home archives, because nobody will watch them.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Watching the film in the cinema influences me a lot, because watching different works, in addition to the pleasure of watching movie amongst a group of experts, makes it possible for me to analyze and compare, and it gives me a series of new inspirations and ideas.

Most importantly, seeing the audiences’ immediate reactions is something like being in a classroom that you cannot find in any school, university, or institution.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I think filmmakers cannot create any new original work without regarding the classical cinema. In my view, the classical cinema is so intertwined with the whole cinema that is indispensable, and it’s not possible to set aside the classical cinema and make an original new film.