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We Stand With...Sadaf Foroughi & Kiarash Anvari

Dec 19, 2022

In our 'We Stand With' series, we will use our platform to highlight those filmmakers in our community who are in or have been through incredibly difficult situations, to allow them to share their thoughts and comments on their current situations, what they are working on, whatever they would like to share. We stand with them.

Meet Iranian filmmakers and Berlinale Talents alumni Sadaf Foroughi and Kiarash Anvari. Both share a deep interest in discovering the impact of family and society on the upbringing of children, especially of women. This is reflected in their drama "Summer With Hope" (2022) which was shot in northern Iran and criticises traditional patriarchal society.
As a consequence of portraying the taboo of homosexuality and the problems faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Iran, Sadaf & Kiarash were arrested and had their passports and film dailies confiscated. They faced house arrest for 6 months and were not allowed to leave Iran for three years. Both are currently still held in Iran. 

Sadaf Foroughi and Kiarash Anvari

"After filming Summer With Hope in Iran in August 2019, we were arrested, our passports and the film dailies were confiscated, and we were not allowed to leave Iran for three years. The reason: Summer With Hope portrays the taboo of homosexuality and the problem of the LGBTQ+ community in Iran for the first time in such a direct way. We were under house arrest for 6 months and interrogated for a year. For the remaining two years, we were preoccupied with our trial, mental and spiritual persecution, and bureaucratic issues surrounding our court. 

After three years of struggle, we finally made progress in getting our hands on the backup hard drives of the dailies and it was a miracle that we were able to complete the post-production and deliver the film to Karlovy Vary in no time. The film was selected for the Crystal Globe competition section and won the Crystal Globe Grand Prix. Our passports were returned to us only a month before the festival. 

During this tough period, we had no choice but to remain silent so as not to endanger our safety and that of our family. Today, however, we feel not alone anymore, so we decided to ignore our fear and speak up. Our duty now is not only to share our film with the world, which carries a timely message in tune with the revolution in Iran but also to talk about the oppression that is happening to us in Iran. Therefore, our effort is to show the film to the world as widely as possible. 

Jin, Jiyan, Azadi. Woman, Life, Freedom. "

Sadaf Foroughi (writer/director) & Kiarash Anvari (Producer/Editor), 2022 

Stills from
Stills from "Summer With Hope" (2022)

Dreams Don't End With Bullets

Kian Pirfalak was a 9-year-old boy from Izeh in Iran's Khuzestan province who was killed by the Islamic Republic's repressive forces with a war bullet during the nationwide protest two days ago on November 16, 2022. Kian loved rainbows and was setting his heart on becoming a famous inventor. A video of him going viral on social media, dating back a few months, shows him opening the introduction to his new invention by saying, “In the name of the God of the rainbows”. He was a dreamer whose dream was interrupted by a bullet. The repressive forces of the Islamic Republic have so far killed 57 minors (the real number is probably higher) since the beginning of the revolution led by women two months ago in Iran. 57 innocent dreamers along with hundreds of young freedom fighters whose dream of having basic rights was brutally cut short the dream of being free, happy, playful, creative, having the right to dance, sing, love, and blow their hair in the wind without fear. The question is in this situation, what is the duty of a filmmaker whose job is to dream every 24 frames per second? Should we, as filmmakers, stop dreaming while mourning these innocent little dreamers and declare that any dream after this disaster is barbaric? Or should we continue to dream, carrying on our shoulders the dreams of those innocent souls until the final act? Our choice is the second approach. We believe that dreaming is essential for us Iranian filmmakers around the world after the murder of Kian Pirfalak and other dreamers like him, and of course, all Iranian freedom fighters who were killed dreaming of a desirable life in a secular society without gender apartheid, religious, ethnic, racial and political divisions. We feel compelled to be the storytellers of the dreams shattered over the past two months, not to mention the lives that have been destroyed during the 44 years of the Islamic Republic rule, and to keep those dreams alive in this way. Our task is to remain dreamers and, by dreaming, to create a future where no dreamer will be shot dead, imprisoned, threatened with death, or detained. Dreams don't end with bullets.

Jin, Jiyan, Azadi. Woman, Life, Freedom.

Sadaf Foroughi & Kiarash Anvari, 2022

"Summer With Hope"