"Un regard sur l'animation iranienne contemporaine"

Finally the idea I was working on for a long time cam into life and it happened! A selection of 22 animations produced in Iran during the last 10 years was programmed to be shown as part of the Cinemathèque Québécoise's spring program.

Below is an interview between Détective Animé and Parissa (Two souls living in the same body) on the how and why I decided to work on this idea.

Un regard sur l'animation iranienne contemporaine

Program 1

program 2

May 2014, Montreal

Détective Animé: Hello Parissa! Nice to have you with us here on your own blog! Could you tell me a bit about yourself?

Im a Montréal based artist, making animation films and videos. I was born in Tehran, Iran, where I lived for 25 years. Thats where I started my studies in Stage and Design at the Cinema and Theatre School of Tehran Art University. I later moved to Montreal in 2005 to study film animation at Concordia University.

Détective Animé: Tell us about your idea. How did you come up with the idea of an Iranian animation program?

Im a big fan of film festivals and Im always very keen to see programs from other countries especially those who are less known. Also what I always check on the festival lists, out of curiosity, is the name of Iran as country of production. For reasons that are still unclear to me there are not so many Iranian animations presented in Canadian animation festivals. So I thought somebody had to do that. It was in 2010. 

The idea was formed as I started talking to colleagues about it. I knew I wanted it to be focused on a very specific time span and subject. For this program, I knew I didnt want to present something like Iranian animation from the beginning to the present. I really like to see how filmmakers are working in other countries in our time. How they talk about their ideas and what they are talking about in their work. Last year, I attended a retrospective of Japanese animations from Tokyo University, which was brought to Montréal by Masaki Okuda. I somehow felt that often we talk about very similar themes but depending on where we live and work we set these themes in different contexts and situations. We also tend to narrate our ideas in completely different ways.

Détective Animé:  Why did you choose a time span of ten years?

Im myself very interested in what is going on around the world in animation filmmaking. How animators make films under different circumstances and within different production standards. At the same time, the generation who has been involved in the Iranian animation filmmaking in the last ten years has passed through a very specific period of Iranian history. We have experienced a revolution and few years of war. At the same time we have taken enough distance from both of these important events and we are now in a position to look at all that we went through from a different perspective.

Détective Animé: Why did you focus your selection to the films produced in Iran and not the animation films by Iranian cineastes produced outside of Iran?

What was important to me was to narrow this study and to focus as much as I could to a specific period of time and place. My goal was to show how animation filmmakers work and create inside Iran in their specific context and within their limits .

Détective Animé:  How did you approach cineastes?
I asked artists and filmmakers I knew back in Iran, to suggest me a list of independent animation filmmakers. I also made a vast search on the Internet. I went through the list of animation festivals inside and outside Iran to look for the films. I made a long list and I started contacting filmmakers when I was in Tehran in 2012 and 2013. I met a lot of these filmmakers in person, and had the opportunity to talk more in detail about their films and the situation they are working in. Its so different when you meet someone in person rather than exchanging some lines in an email asking them to send you their work. It gave me a chance to have a better idea of the reality of animation filmmakers there.

During one of my trips I received a message from Kanoon's international affair section. Kanoon is an institute for cultural development of children and young adults. Indeed the first seeds of animation filmmaking in Iran have been planted in this institute. The cinema section of Kanoon is still one of the important producers of short animations in Iran. They showed interest in joining the project.  Again what I noticed with Kanoon was that despite their regular distribution in Europe they still dont have that much exchange with Canada. Thats how we decided to add some Kanoon productions to these programs.  

Détective Animé:  Why did you think of Cinémathèque Québécoise as the venue?
Cinémathèuque Québécoise is a prestigious institute for the cinephiles and professionals in film, video and new media. Animation is one of their specialties as an archive and as a cinema; the Cinematheque screens animations programs on a regular basis and they also organize the international animation festival Les sommets du cinema danimation every year. I couldnt think of a better place for this program. I proposed this idea to Marco de Blois and he gave me carte-blanche and a lot of good suggestions.

Détective Animé: What are the themes and techniques of the films presented in these two programs?

I tried to choose films within different techniques. For this selection my focus was to find animations that fit into the context of short-film animation (I excluded television series or commissioned works). What is also called Festival-style animation. I also tried to consider different techniques but still most of the selected films are 2D animations. One theme that is very present in the films of the last ten years is Resistance and War. There is also an effort to approach traditional rituals, stories and characters that are about to fade or do not exist anymore in our contemporary life in Iran.

I would like to thank:
My filmmaker friend Minou Jan Mohammadi who helped me in the very beginning of this project. She was living in Toronto at the time and did a big effort in finding and suggesting different possible venues. She was the one who broke the ice for me!

This program owes a lot to the ambitious mind of Elaheh Goudarzi, a great animator and filmmaker working in Tehran. She brought up the idea of collaborating with Kanoon and she made this job possible.

Gita Mohseni, the dear lady in charge of international section of Kanoon who did her best to make this collaboration happen

Merci à:
Éléonore Goldberg
Jean-Christophe Leblond for editing and translating the materials
Delaram Karkheiran
Saeed Zarei
Maryam Khalilzadeh

All the filmmakers who contributed to this program!

And of course un grand Merci à Marco de Blois who said: “YES! GO!”