Alireza, Firstly, allows me to express my congratulations to you for the huge success of your film ‘ZUGZWANG, What actually did compel you to select the subject of ZUGZWANG?
ALIZERA – When an economic crisis occurs in a country, everyone in the society is involved with it, and these economic problems cause a family crisis and the destruction of the family. This issue leads to a high divorce rate in the society. During the divorce, the law also intervenes, and it is the law that determines how much the share of men and women in their life together is, and it is natural that when economic issues are raised, both spouses (whether woman or man) try to end the matter in their favor.
This is also happening in Iranian society. This happened to a friend of mine, and this is what made me take the opportunity to portray this issue.
Nowadays, in Iran and some countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, some Arab countries or countries where Islamic law is applied, before marriage, some money is considered as an agreement that in case of divorce, the man pays the money to the woman to compensate for the damages caused by the cohabitation. Of course, it should be noted that according to the law, the woman could demand this money from the man whenever she wants during the marital life.
How the filming experience was and being a writer & director what are the challenges you faced making ‘ZUGZWANG’?
ALIZERA – During the film, I did not face a very difficult challenge due to the presence of professional and experienced persons, as well as consulting with them. I have a long pre-production period, and this causes to shorten the filming duration of my works. Other actors and I come to a common point and view during the pre-production period by regularly reviewing the script and consulting with each other, and this makes it less challenging during filming.
Upon writing the script, I had in mind the climax of the story of the sequence in which the woman intended to leave the man forever, but when I consulted with the actors and other agents during the filming, I achieve to the conclusion that the climax should be at the end of the film. This is the common point that I mentioned before. Perhaps the most important challenge for me in screenwriting was this matter.
Do you think Indie filmmakers should directly go for digital streaming (VOD) rather trying to get their films released in theatrically? Or they should try for it?
ALIZERA – An independent filmmaker likes his film to be seen. I remember some years ago when I was making a film, I copied it to a DVD myself, and gave it to others to see my film.
When we make our films in the form of a cinema, when the scenes we take are based on the silver screen of the cinema, it is naturally more enjoyable to show it in the cinema. Although in the current situation where the audience is the most important factor, there is no choice but to show the film online.
We should not forget this point that our national laws in Iran are different from other parts of the world, and the fact that not much income can be earned from making short films. If the online show of short films is not supported and promoted, the filmmaker will no longer have a platform to show his short films.
How effective are the laurels of Indie Film Fests for commercial success of a film? How close is the story in the movie to your real-life experience?
ALIZERA – There are film festivals that take a professional look at films and, apart from commercial goals, create a new path for the filmmaker that encourages the filmmaker. This helps the filmmaker to understand what topics to seek for making films.
In case of business debate, being selected for a film festival could also help attracting audiences.
As for the second part of the question, I have to say that the issue of divorce and the financial affairs of this issue for men happened to one of my friends, and this made me think about this subject and portray it.
Can you explain the character of Linda Kiani & Behzad Khakaj bit more as they played very potential segment to your wonderful project.
ALIZERA – My purpose was to shock the audience at the end of the story, realizing that all these stories were just a plot to get the man out of the financial burden of divorce. Therefore, I had to match the Behzad Khalaj character with the character of Linda Kiani to enter the story and show this map real. Behzad had a difficult playing. Because Behzad’s character knew about the map and he had to play a role so that it would not be revealed, and Behzad was able to overcome this duality well.
As for Linda Kiani, I must say that the woman is the mountain of emotion and Linda was very emotional. She played her own character and portrayed all the feelings of being a woman herself, and of course sometimes went beyond her own reality.
What do you think, Indie film should be made for Festivals only or it should be made for audience?
ALIZERA – Every filmmaker wants his film to be seen by the audience. Of course, we should not forget that every filmmaker is interested in having his film seen and criticized at the festival, and this is a great chance. However, the real drama is that the audience’s opinion about the film differs from the film festival output. Consider a film that is seen at a festival and wins an award but fails at the box office. Isn’t this a beautiful contrast?
In general, being selected in a film festival is an advertisement for the film, because the audience is curious to see the film. Of course, the lucky is a film that can attract both festivals and audiences.
Is there any specific reason to pick up the issues like commitment & marriage portion? What would happen if Alireza Mohammadi didn’t come to the film industry?
ALIZERA – Today, not only in Iran but in the most countries, the issue of economy is a top priority, and other issues such as the family are slowly fading. Nevertheless, in Iran, there are more economic problems and therefore, the divorce rate is higher. Definitely, not all causes of divorce are economic problems, but it is the most important reason. Since the filmmaker is the mirror of all the incidents of society, it is natural that he/she reflects everything that happens in the society, for this reason, I also feel it as my duty to reflect this event.
In my film, there is a special look at women. The women are so emotional, and in this film, the feelings of Linda Kiani’s character are abused.
Regarding the second part of the question, I should say that I do not know any other profession other than filmmaking. I entered into this profession when I was a teenager and I had no other way but to enter into this profession.
Now we have come to the ending of our conversation. I would like to end by asking you on last question. What are your plans ahead?
ALIZERA – I’m waiting for feedback from audiences as well as festivals about my film. Moreover, currently I am thinking about some interesting social topics to write them after processing. These issues, like all my films, are my concerns.
Furthermore, I’m going to make a short film called “85 Million and Two”. 85 million, which is the population of Iran, and in this film, people who are less seen in the Iranian society and are not among the statistics of Iran are to be addressed.