Asghar Farhadi is back in Cannes Competition this year with his latest movie A Hero, the story of a young man who is in prison because of a debt he is unable to pay. Today, the director told press that he was looking to “improve something in the world” with his filmmaking
“Everyone has their own definition,” he said, explaining that his particular goal was that one day his child, any child, would be able to “ask questions” freely in society.
“If one day we could be in a world without taboos, without forbidden questions, I would feel we would be at the start of real change,” he added.
The decorated filmmaker – a two-time Oscar winner – has a complicated relationship with his native Iran and has engaged with the country’s controversies and challenges in his work.
“In Iran we are living in megalomania – in one sense we think we are the center of the world and in other senses we think we are worthless,” he explained in response to a question about the film’s themes.
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“In Iran someone is ready to lose everything to retain their reputation, the image society has of you,” he said on A Hero. “The serenity and sense of confidence that comes from knowing you have a good reputation is such that in order to maintain that, you end up in an ambivalence about your own life, which is different from the image you project.”
Social media is one of the film’s central topics and, while Farhadi stated that is was just one aspect of the story – and only really present because the medium is omnipresent among Iran’s youth now – he drew comparisons between how people behave on that platform and how people behave in Iranian society, which has a “close, oppressive atmosphere”,” he added.
However, the filmmaker was keen to make it clear that he prefers not to be explicitly partisan and directly political in his films, and rather he aims to “examine” and “study” via his work and allow people to form their own conclusions.
“Systems want to present things in right and wrong, black and white, but when we live in society we see what is good for one person is not good for another – each person must be able to judge for themselves what is right or wrong, true or false for them,” he said.
“We are confronted with extremism, dogmatic behaviour, we cannot allow ourselves to become extremist or dogmatic, the same as those who we criticize,” he concluded.
Deadline’s review called the film “a thought-provoking watch”.
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