Children of Heaven -- The Interview
By Ross Anthony

Iranian Filmmaker, Majid Majidi welcomed me out on his hotel terrace. His wavy reaching hair, puppy dog eyes, and graying mustache reminded me of Albert Einstein. I framed and focused, "Smile!" I shouted, I was in a good mood. But Majid, peered rather tentatively at the camera. "Smile!" I shouted again, it didn't occur to me until well into the interview, that Majid knew a completely different word for "Smile."

"Could you tie your shoe?" I requested. Then he smiled. "Shoe" he knew. That's the motif his sweet film Children of Heaven runs on ... the simple shoe.

We moved into the suite; his interpreter, Dr. Jamsheed Akrami (an accomplished author) and Mr. Majidi put together some tea and coffee, offering it to me. We sat in a triangle on the available furniture. Unsure to whom I ought address my questions, I began facing Majid, but seeing a blank expression, I would turn to Jamsheed whose telling nod gave me the reassurance I needed to continue. Then, Jamsheed and Majid would converse in a language as foreign to me as "Smile" must have been to Majid. Finally, Jamsheed would respond in English:

RA: The bureaucracy and politics of making films in the States can be quite a hassle, what is it like making a film in Iran?

MM: The government has a monopoly on film stock and equipment. So every filmmaker has to go to them to rent these items. The government issues screening permits for the films, which means they can ban a film or demand changes in it. They also rate them on artistic and cultural merits. They reward A-grade films with rights to advertise on the government controlled media and screenings at the best theaters. While C-grade filmmakers can be kept from making films for a year.

RA: In your film, there are many scenes in which, the children run through the narrow streets of a small Iranian village. Were the passers-by extras? Or did you just shoot these scenes in unstaged streets?

MM: Actually, we used hidden cameras to capture the presence of real life. There were some loose-ends, that is, things that happened that were like mistakes, but they enhanced the realistic performance. The cameras were also hidden from the key actors, again adding to the natural feel. It actually made filming more difficult and involved, hiding the camera and crew, but the results were much more relaxed performances.

RA: How exactly did you get into filmmaking?

MM: At the age of twelve, I acted in my first play. I enjoyed theater and acting, so I continued. Later, I was given the opportunity to direct. So I did. From that I wrote and developed my first film. That, of course, was my most difficult project. But a filmmaker's first film, is in many ways his most defining work. Even though there are many obstacles, there is still no excuse to create a weak piece.

As we ended the interview, Majid mentioned that I had the facial features of his countrymen and that I, in particular, looked much like a friend of his. I mentioned that he looked like my uncle. By that time, Majid and I were facing each other as we spoke. Surprisingly, there was a feeling of family. Jamsheed's unobtrusive interpretation became like subtitles to our communication, the sincerity of The Children of Heaven reflected in it's filmmaker's eyes.



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Copyright © 1998-2012 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Thursday, 21-Oct-2010 15:23:04 PDT