YIDFF 2017 New Asian Currents
Starless Dreams
An Interview with Mehrdad Oskouei (Director)

The Real Faces of Girls in Seclusion

Q: All the girls depicted in your film carry some kind of vice or grief. But they, in fact, are no different from other girls, and I thought what really leads them to “vice” is the environment around them. What are your thoughts on this?

MO: I think that’s exactly right. People might assume that girls who have committed crimes look, think, and behave differently from ordinary girls. That’s what I’d been thinking as well. But when I met and talked with them in person, they were no different from my own daughter. Once I realized that, I felt a strong sense of duty to show the girls’ real selves to my audience. I also think that their life stories are not exclusive to Iran. I am sure there are girls like them all over the world.

Q: Why did you focus on girls in a rehabilitation center?

MO: There are two reasons for that. First, I wanted to show that these girls are still in their youth. To share my own story, I experienced poverty in my youth because my father went bankrupt when I was fifteen. I attempted suicide. I kept wondering why no one accepted our family just because we were poor, even though we had done nothing wrong. That’s the reason why I decided that, no matter what kind of work I do in the future, I would be a voice for those people that society has overlooked.

My second reason for choosing this subject has to do with incarceration facilities. My father and grandfather were sent to jail for no justifiable reasons. They were severely tortured there, and their lives were completely ruined. Because I know people who suffered like this, I kept wondering what it might be like to spend time in seclusion, to wait for a long time, and to put up with all manner of things. The girls in my film spend their youth in a closed space, and I made this film because I thought we have to think about how they must be feeling.

Q: How would you like your audience to change their perspectives after watching your film?

MO: The present society is trying to destroy itself as quickly as possible, and every one of us must feel some responsibility for that. I do not expect anything from the country or government. Each of us should think about people other than our families and ourselves. Even if society and the government take certain issues lightly, these could become a bigger problem when they pile up. No matter how small a problem may be, so long as someone pays careful attention and takes action, we can prevent that problem from spreading.

Q: Do you plan to continue making films with related themes?

MO: I am shooting two films on incarceration facilities, but they will probably be the last ones on this topic. I believe making a film like this could also be my redemption, and I hope my next works will be screened at YIDFF again.

(Compiled by Haneda Airi)

Interviewers: Haneda Airi, Abe Shizuka / Interpreter: Takada Forugh / Translator: Morisue Noriko
Photography: Satsusa Takahiro / Video: Okawa Akihiro / 2017-10-07