Despite having one of the most diverse bodies of work in the past decade of Iranian cinema, Abdolreza Kahani is also one of the most suppressed filmmakers in Iran. His films have mostly been confiscated or banned from public screenings and are not allowed to be shown in many international festivals since all of his work encroaches on the limits of the Islamic Republic.
The following is a telephone interview with Kahani following the Fajr Film Festival’s decision to remove Absolute Rest from the list of official selections. At this writing, he is awaiting approval for a possible commercial release. We first discussed the nature of independent filmmaking in Iran before looking at the specific characteristics of Kahani’s work.
You have introduced yourself on various occasions as an independent filmmaker. What does it mean to be an independent filmmaker in Iran? Is it merely a matter of financial freedom?
More than having financial independence, having disinterested opinions with regard to any norm or party also makes an independent filmmaker. It means freedom of thought so that you can build what you like. It means investing in a movie from your own thoughts rather than waiting for others to invest and tell you what to think and make. When I say I am an independent filmmaker, I mean that I can put my own thoughts into a movie without the obligations that come with sponsorships.
What are the most important concerns of an independent Iranian filmmaker?