Oscar Nominated (Foreign Language Category) – THE SALESMAN will open the film in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, January 27th, with a national rollout to follow.
Film Courage: Asghar, is it true that you view screenwriting almost like a math equation? You piece parts together? What is your process for screenwriting?
Asghar Farhadi (via translator): The thing that might interest you and that I’ll explain to you is that when I start I am writing without any kind of calculation, any kind of architectural overview
It seems, when you actually see the film, that I’ve begun with the puzzle pieces that I keep moving around until I find the final shape, but it’s truly the opposite.
Once I’ve written a first draft summary, it’s only then that I begin to correct and to change the puzzle pieces in a conscious manner.
Meaning I write in the first stage with my heart and the rest of it with my mind.
“I’ve always refrained from giving specific advice to try and guide someone because the advice could in fact lead them the wrong way. But the one thing I can say is [for an aspiring filmmaker] to tap into their unconscious to make their films, rather than their conscious mind to start with.”
Film Courage: You have many people waiting for your movies. Do you ever feel a pressure or what are your thoughts on an audience that can be fickle at times? I know you’ve said previously that awards, although they’re nice and complimentary toward your work, are not the only reason that you make films.
Asghar Farhadi (via translator): As I’ve stated before these events allow the audiences to become more familiar with the language of my films and (for a greater number of them) to see my films.
What I don’t like is that they go see the film to see me more than to see the film and where it is strong and where it might not be strong.
Film Courage: How do you feel about your films being framed in a cultural view instead of a mere thought of just stories about relationships, about people? So when you make a movie from a Western standpoint, it’s seen from a cultural view with some sort of statement when it’s more about human beings interacting?
Asghar Farhadi (via translator): It really depends on the viewer and what their preference is and what angle they look at the film from. It’s possible that some viewers in a far away city may see the film and no cultural aspect is important to them. They are just interested in seeing these characters and where they’re going.
However, as this is a realistic film and it is made in a society and the characteristics of that society are reflected in and can be found in the film.
Film Courage: I know as a teenager (in the 1980’s) you were involved in a cinema society. What would you advise to a young, Iranian filmmaker today who wants to make movies?
Asghar Farhadi (via translator): I’ve always refrained from giving specific advice to try and guide someone because the advice could in fact lead them the wrong way. But the one thing I can say is to tap into their unconscious to make their films, rather than their conscious mind to start with.
We all have this incredible wealth that is our unconscious and over time it some how has been veiled and sunk to some depth that we can’t access it, but if we could access it there are unexpected and wonderful things there.
Film Courage: Going back to those early days of the cinema society, what was your goal in terms of making movies? I think it was an Eastern European film you saw that really changed things for you, maybe? But what did you want to say with film and what was your goal in making them?
Asghar Farhadi (via translator): There’s a number of things. The one thing is that I really derive great pleasure from filmmaking and if I were not able to do this, life would be difficult for me.
The other thing that is important and perhaps has become even more so recently, is for me to address questions I have in my films and then in the course of the ensuing discussions learn and grow.
Film Courage: Excellent. Thank you.
Asghar Farhadi: You’re welcome. Thank you.
THE SALESMAN opens in NY & LA Friday January 27th, 2017
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About THE SALESMAN:
After their old flat becomes damaged, Emad (Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a young couple living in Tehran, are forced to move into a new apartment. However, once relocated, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes the couple’s life, creating a simmering tension between husband and wife. A master at exposing domestic discord through his multi-layered screenplays, Farhadi’s slow-burning, visceral drama explores the psychology of vengeance and a relationship put under strain while continuing to explore the condition of women in Iran and the male psyche.
Forty-four year-old Asghar Farhadi was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world by Time in 2012, after his film, A SEPARATION, won the Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as numerous other awards. THE PAST won the 2013 Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actress Award and the Ecumenical Jury Prize and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. ABOUT ELLY won the 2012 Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for Best Director. His next film, starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, will be shot in Spain this year. THE SALESMAN is his seventh feature.
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