Gandom's Director Hashem Moradi on Independent Cinema, finding Inspiration and facing Challenges


6/5/20244 min read

1. Can you tell us about your background and what inspired you to become a filmmaker?

"I am so glad to talk with you as the director of "Gandom", and the winner of the festival."

Regarding your question, I should go back to my childhood, when the coffeehouse owner bought the village’s first television and we saw the magic box up close. It was a 14-inch black and white TV. When we wanted to go to the coffeehouse with my friends to watch movies we had to pay the entrance fee. During the movie, we sat on a cement floor in the cold and hot weather but the painful part was that the adults were smoking hookah and cigarettes all the time and they were talking loudly while watching the movie without respecting the children. The smoke that was exhaled by them caused our tears to come out and we were not able to concentrate on the movie. But the television was like a magic box that made those hardships bearable.

After the political changes in 1978 in Iran, the economic conditions became struggling and negative. We moved to the capital of Iran, I mean Tehran. Fortunately, my father got a job in an office called "Cinematic Development Center". My father's workplace had some privileges for me. For example, I could see movies in several cinemas for free and that was a brilliant beginning, I was 12 years old, and I could see movies on the silver screen without limitation and several times. The cinema screen compared to the 14-inch TV screen was beyond my imagination and an incredible miracle.

Since then, cinema has been a special attraction for me. A window to discover unknowns and enter a new and imaginary world in which we see ourselves and the realities of our lives.

2. Which filmmakers or films have had the most influence on your work?

Cinema is a field in which great people have been active before us, and certainly, it influences us unconsciously by watching all the films that were made before us. I like Abbas Kiarostami's work style so much, and I hope that the atmosphere of my film is the same and close to his works in the near future.

3. How did you get started in independent filmmaking?

I have been working as a cinematographer in Iranian cinema for a long time and I am still working in this profession, it was a privilege for me to choose my friends in different fields while collaborating on other projects and ask them to help me with a reasonable salary. To make my own film and they also did me a favour and the result was the production of "Gandom". After that, I made several other films.

4. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an independent filmmaker?

The first and major issue in independent filmmaking is usually economic issues. Further, choosing an appropriate location for the film's story was my main concern. I wanted to portray a delicate and beautiful atmosphere in contrast with technology. I believe that the bad use of technology hinders in achieving peace. I wanted the audience to understand this issue in their subconscious. Maybe I still haven’t reached my ideal, but the best place I could find was the filming location.

The other problem was finding Afghan actors. I had a lot of limitations in this case. The actors were amateur and non-actors, and I could hardly get the performance that I wanted from them, if the economic condition of my project was well, I would be more comfortable in this matter. Part of the problems that I mentioned are related to the production, which also affects the artistic part of the film. When the pre-production of the film begins, a date for the start and the end of the project is determined, and the director cannot proceed without that schedule.

5. What do you think about the current state of independent cinema?

In my opinion, compared to the past, independent cinema can make further progress due to the emerging digital phenomenon and smaller and less expensive facilities and equipment, but its stability and sustainability depend on the future state of the economy and the possibility of livelihood of the activists in this field. Unfortunately, in Iran, independent cinema is not in good condition compared to the developed countries, in terms of the devaluation of the national currency and the incapability of the state to control inflation, and the country is hit by rising inflation.

"Activities in the cinema have decreased, and even fewer audiences go to the cinema to watch movies."

Funding for film production is difficult and to some extent is impossible or possible with extreme difficulty.

6. How do you see the future of independent filmmaking evolving with new technologies and platforms?

"Luckily, new technologies are serving and helping independent cinema."

Equipment costs are not as high as in the analogue period. In the past, the cost of providing negatives and doing trial work was very high. Now, digital cameras with good quality and many technical capabilities have been produced. It is much easier to access them than in the past, and good facilities have been made for them, which are convenient and economical. It is a reason to hope that independent cinema will have a growing trend in Saudi Arabia.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring independent filmmakers?

I think the new technology has made it possible to make relatively good films for those who are genuinely interested in cinema and have something to say. We have witnessed the production of high-quality cameras for mobile phones and their Burley accessories, so that you can make movies with them, and some have already done it.

8. What goals do you have for your future projects, and what stories are you eager to tell next?

After "Gandom" I made two more films. The movie "Imo" was released in the trial cinema in Iran and it was the most popular film of the year of art and experimental cinema. I also made a short film on the subject of identity, the technical work of which is in progress after its production. I am writing a screenplay on the topic of conflict and generation gaps. It was a great pleasure to talk with you.