Keeping new talent alive
Katayoon Shahabi of Sheherazad Media International arrived at IFFR Tuesday to screen the European premiere of Pourya Azarbayjani’s feature debut Unfinished Stories. The director wrote, produced, directed and financed the film. ‘He is representative of the generation of new talent that wants to be independent in Iran,’ Shahabi told the Daily Tiger yesterday.
The film is the story of three young women who are abandoned by their men, and end up on the streets of Tehran. ‘All the actresses are professional but played for free,’ Shahabi points out. ‘The budget was around €75,000. The director wanted to get married, but he waited in order to invest in this film. It was a very independent film – everybody helped make it happen. It’s also an honest film, because you feel the love between all the crew.’
Shahabi revealed that Azarbayjani’s next film can only be financed from sales of Unfinished Stories. ‘Before, we had a lot of subsidies and help from the government for independent producers and directors,’ she explains. ‘But now these funds go to popular commercial films that always do well at the box office. That’s why these kind of independent films are beginning to disappear. Directors cannot continue to work. That is why my work is very important, to sell the film. It’s a way to survive for these young directors.’
Shahabi is currently producing 101 Persian Dogs, by Mehrdad Oskouei, which looks at the treatment of stray dogs in Tehran. She previously co-produced his Nose, Iranian Style (2005) and The Other Side of the Burka (2004). NC