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Farahani: "Feelings Are Absolute"

The Song of Scorpions - Piazza Grande

Farahani: "Feelings Are Absolute"

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Golshifteh Farahani, the story of the character you play in The Song of Scorpions makes it impossible not to reflect on cultural identities and the importance of the exchanges that can take place even in a desert. What is the cultural value of a project like this, which brought an Iranian actor to work on a film set in India?

Stories happen in the deserts or the mountains, the human reflections are the same. Love, anger, betrayal, revenge, forgiveness is the same all over this vast planet. No matter where we come from, what color or culture, we get angry in the same way.

Feelings are absolute. They won't change as science does. Every year science is evolving and progressing, equality canceling the concepts of 10 years before.

But anger, love, forgiveness has never evolved. Maybe it has changed in form but the essence has remained the same.

That's why I don't look at where and when the stories are happening but what message they are carrying deep inside.

And what's a better message than forgiveness.

The film follows the twists and turns of a melodrama, but at the same time it does not flinch from reflecting highly topical issues like the rapes suffered by women in India. How important is it to maintain this constant link with the problems of contemporary society?

Since human beings discovered agriculture, women have been victims of wars and macho oppressions. And of course this is going on and on somehow in the DNA of societies. Wanting to resist in front of it, you will definitely be the victim of violence and sever aggression from the society. Being an individual in such environments, especially as a woman you will be paying a very expensive price. As I'm paying, as many other women like Nooran are paying. But what's important is to keep on pushing the limits. At least the next generations will have an inch more of space to breathe! Even one inch is one inch!

In the film, Nooran is a healer whose songs can cure people bitten by scorpions. In Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, you were a poet’s wife. Are these roles that show how culture can be used to combat external obstacles?

Art and culture is the only way. Art is the most refined form for healing the human soul.

I was born in an artistic family and I deeply believe in the power of Art. Art and nature have the same qualities for human mind. You can't make things better with pure political strategies, but if politics gets involved with artistic concepts rooted in culture, it can make the society more productive and healthy. Art is the way.

With your “rebel” performances, you have collaborated with many of the best filmmakers in Iranian cinema, from Abbas Kiarostami to Asghar Farhadi and Marjane Satrapi. What is the current situation for film in Iran?

It has been more than 9 years that I haven't been back. Countries like Iran change rapidly, 9 years of not being in Iran is like 30 years of not being in Paris. The rapidity of evolution is unimaginable. Even the cities are changing very fast. New highways, new tunnels. Language is changing, new expressions, new accents... so to be honest I'm also an observer like all of you.

But one thing I'm sure of is that art in Iran is not only art but a necessity of life. Like water, like oxygen. People are breathing oxygen at the same time they are so very deeply connected in some form of art. They have always been. That's why hundreds of years of attacks and political operation couldn't take away the art away from people. Alexander, Genghis Khan, the Arab invasion, etc., no one ever managed to take away the essence of art from Persians. The all melted into the culture.

After acting in many arthouse films, you’ve also appeared in a more mainstream Hollywood blockbuster, the recent Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. What kind of adventure was that?

Haven't seen it. I know they took 80 percent of the part I played out. They are good parts and bad parts in this huge blockbuster industry. They have an election to see how to edit the film to sell it better. This form of art that is only connected to money making is not really a form I'm the most interested in. It gives power but is not that creative.

This is not your first time in Locarno, as you also sat on the jury in 2010. What do you remember in particular about that experience?

The most moving projections out on the Piazza, sometimes under the rain, sometimes blue sky. Locarno film festival is magical. The power of the mountains, lake and rivers combined with movies and best risotto in the world. What can be better than that?

Lorenzo Buccella
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