|The last part
Documentary on Forough Farrokhzad
By Dorna Khazeni
April 26, 2002
When my friend Tom Luddy, renowned as the founder of the Pacific Film Archive and
the Telluride Film Festival went to the Fajr Film Festival this year, he called me
from Tehran in great excitement. He said there was a film showing about "the
woman poet" I loved so much. He meant Forough Farrokhzad.
Tom, through his association with myself and numerous other Iranians has come to
know what Forough represents to so many of us. Another luminary of the world of film
who was fortunate enough to know Forough and actually spend time with her in Tehran
in the 1950's, is the legendary filmmaker Chris Marker who wrote an obituary for
her at the time of her death calling her the Queen of Sheba. He wrote to me saying
of all the extraordinary women he had been fortunate enough to meet in his life,
she was by far the most extraordinary.
Now, an audacious filmmaker, Nasser Saffarian, has spent the last few years, and
with very limited resources and borrowed money making a unique documentary about
Forough. The film, which was intended to be a trilogy, currently consists of two
parts, each about an hour long.
It includes interviews with contemporary poets and friends
of Forough's, as well as extensive interviews with her mother, sister and brother.
The film also contains the ethereal footage that Bertolucci shot of her in Iran in
the 60's, as well as segments of her incredible film The house is black, the
documentary she made at a leper colony.
Mr. Saffarian's efforts are commendable. Iran today is not generally acknowledged
as a land encouraging the sort of outspoken iconoclasm that Forough stands for and
it is probably only barely that she is tolerated as a cultural figure by the majority
of those in power under the current regime.
And yet, for me and so many others, she is, as no other ever was or will be, the
true Iranian treasure. She speaks to so many parts of us, in so many ways. For me,
seeing this film was a delightful and heady as well as an extremely emotional experience.
For that, I am grateful to Mr. Saffarian.
Mr. Saffarian has had many difficulties to contend with. While the film was invited
to and is screening as part of the San Francisco Film Festival this week, the filmmaker
was denied a visa as a consequence of the current state of the U.S.-Iran relationship.
In Iran itself, the first part of his documentary Sardeh
Sabz (The Green Cold) has received only limited permission for
exhibition, while the second part, Jaam-e-jaan (The Mirror of the Soul) is
not allowed to screen at all. Furthermore, Mr. Saffarian is unable to complete the
third part, even though it had already begun production, due to a complete and total
lack of funds and the burden of debt he already is dealing with.
For those of you in Northern California, I encourage you to try to catch the film
at the San Francisco Film Festival. It may be the only time it shows; although, I
certainly hope this will not be so. For my part, I am trying, here in Los Angeles,
as well as (hopefully) in a few other cities, to arrange one or two fundraisers to
allow Mr. Saffarian to finish the last part of the film.