Joint directors Farnoosh Samadi and Ali Asgari’s must-see live action short film The Silence has been selected for over 400 film festivals around the world and won many prestigious film awards, including Oscar-qualifying awards at Leeds International Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival. The film stars Fatma Alakus, Cahide Ozel and Valentina Carnelutti (Medici: Masters of Florence) and shares a strong social message.
Fatma and her mother are Kurdish refugees in Italy. On their visit to the doctor, Fatma has to translate what the doctor tells to her mother, but she keeps silent.
Female Middle Eastern Co-director Farnoosh Samadi wrote More Than Two Hours, directed by Ali Asgari and was nominated for a Palme d’Or at Cannes and The Baby, which premiered in competition at Venice Film Festival. She co-wrote her first feature film Disappearance with Ali Asgari, the film premiered in competition at Venice Orizzonti and had its Northern American premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. The Silence is her first short, the film had its world premiere in competition at Cannes Film Festival 2016.
Co-director Ali Asgari began his career as an assistant director and is an alumnus of the Berlinale Talent Campus. His short film More Than Two Hours was in competition at Cannes and Sundance Film Festival. His short film The Baby was premiered in competition at Venice Film Festival 2014. His films have screened at more than 600 festivals around the world and won more than 150 international awards. Asgari recently directed his first feature Disappearance. The Silence is the first film he made outside of Iran.
Hello and thank you for taking the time out to talk to us here at Just Celebrity Magazine. Can you please tell a little bit about who you are about yourself?
Ali: I am an Iranian filmmaker who graduated in Italy from Cinema. I made 7 short films 2 of them competed in Cannes Short Film Competition and one of them was in Competition in Venice. Recently I made my first feature film which competed in Venice Film festival and Toronto Film Festival. My short films participated in more than 600 film festivals and won more than 150 international awards.
Farnoosh: I am also an Iranian filmmaker who was graduated in Italy from the Fine Arts Academy in Rome. I collaborated on the screenplays of Ali’s short films, as well as his feature film. I was also co-director of The Silence which was in Competition in Cannes and my recent short film Gaze 2017 was in competition at the Locarno Film festival.
Why did you call the film, The Silence?
There is a reason for that. The girl in the film keeps silent and does not tell what had happened to her mom. This silence for us was a kind of metaphoric. It is mainly a silence for the children of immigrants who are keeping silence for the bad things which happen to them. They are the silent witnesses of the things that happen to them and their family, and keeping silent is the only thing that they can do.
What projects are up next for you?
Ali: After The Silence I finished my feature film, which I co-wrote with Farnoosh and we premiered it in Venice and Toronto International Film Festival. Now I am working on new scripts for a short and a feature.
Farnoosh: After The Silence, I finished a short film that I co-wrote with Ali and I premiered it in Locarno Film festival and just a few days ago I got the grand prize from AFI. I am also focusing on a new short film.
In the short film, the story is being told in the hospital. Which country was it set in and why?
The story was set in Italy because we studied in Italy and we knew the language as well as the people there. However, there was a more important reason. Italy is a place that many immigrants start their journey from. There are many new immigrants who don’t speak Italian which was suitable for our story.
Referring to the last question, I am sure you scouted a lot of hospitals in order to film your short film, what was it about this hospital specifically that made you chose in this one?
We wanted a small hospital with some corridors where the girl could search in them. In Rome where we shot the film, there is a hospital especially for immigrants, but we could not shoot in that one but this one was very similar to that and it gave us the sense of the real hospital.
The emotion in the film was captured well. How did you make sure all the actors brought their ‘A’ game?
The main role was by Fatima Alakus who her parents are real immigrants and her mother really does not speak Italian at all and it is her everyday life. We just tried to keep the scene real for her and explain the situation very well, so she can connect with the character as much good as possible. The role of the mother was also a real immigrant, who doesn’t speak English and Italian well, so it helped her a lot. The role of the doctor was by Valentina Carnelutti who is a professional actress.
The young actress who plays Fatma is incredible. What made you decide that she was the one for this role?
Basically, we did not have many choices and we had just 3 options, but after talking to her we were sure that she was the one for this role and we think that if there were 100 more options, she would have been the right choice because she is very clever and smart. She took our notes well, especially because she lived in this kind of life and could get connected to her role fast.
Referring to the last question, as she is quite young, were you worried that the emotional aspect of this story would overwhelm her?
Before we choose Fatma we really were, but after finding her we very relaxed as she is very mature and has the capacity to control her emotions very well.
What do you want people to take away from this film?
At the end of the film, the mom and daughter hug each other and it is a moment of hope and love. It is a moment where there seems to be no hope but with this hug their show themselves and to us, there is always a hope even in the hardest and darkest time. Leaving the people with this feeling was important.
What their any difficulties you encountered whilst filing this film? If you did how did you overcome them?
We had a great crew and cast, so we did not encounter any difficulties that we can remember.
The Silence has been selected for over 400 film festivals around the world and won many prestigious film awards, did you expect people to enjoy it as you intended?
In fact, we have been in more than 200 festivals so far, but it continues and we have now won around 70 awards and special mentions. When we were shooting we really did not expect this kind of attention. The film is very simple and tender, it came from our hearts, so it is lovely to see it go into the hearts of the audience as well.