Barcelona, May 8 (EFE) .- The veteran radio film critic Javier Tolentino becomes the director with the film “Un blues for Tehran”, a film that he presents at the D’A festival and with which he wanted to “ask questions “on Iranian society through” a musical journey “through the country, sifted through its youth.
In an interview with EFE, Tolentino says that his conversion into a filmmaker is “a logical consequence of having spent 30 years watching, studying and analyzing cinema.”
The initial plan was to make “a musical journey through Iran, which is almost a personal story of a radio chronicler of a European cultural radio in search of old songs but passed through the sieve of young people.”
Tolentino, who has written three books on his own experiences (“The cinema that matters to me”, “Excuse me if I told you about the radio” and “An alphabet for Emma Suárez”) has now arrived in Iran because since the 70-80s he he had seduced his cinema, “that cinema that emerges from India, that begins to wonder about the things that happen in its patio, that same cinema that began to win the great prizes of the main European film festivals”.
He lists, as if it were the line-up of a football team, the relationship of those directors who excited his retina, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Dariush Mehrjui, Bahman Ghobadi, Asghar Farhadi or Mohammad Rasoulof, with a realistic cinema that does not eluded poetry, and gave off natural philosophy.
He soon went from criticism to film training and from there to attending workshops and training centers for Abbas Kiarostami and Asghar Farhadi. “With that relationship, they invited me to their home in Tehran, I began to visit the country, even to do a radio program from Iran, from Kurdistan; and that was already the camera asked you, to show the image.”
The title, explains Tolentino, alludes to “the sadness and melancholy” that produces in a large part of the population “the contradiction between what is forbidden in public and intense life in private.”
It was not easy to get permission to shoot in Iran, but the most difficult thing, says the director, was filming in the street: “there are many interruptions by plainclothes police confidants or Iranian citizens who saw Westerners filming in public thinking that We were going to criticize the country, and sometimes we ended up in the police station teaching all the material, but always in Tehran, because outside the capital everything is easier and the people are wonderful. ”
Tolentino’s camera shows an unusual Iran, in which the large city contrasts with more empty natural and rural spaces, and the director describes the Persian country as “a melting pot of many different communities, with unresolved tensions between them.”
In his opinion, “the Iranian government always talks about the foreign threat to hide its regional territorial tensions.”
Like many other countries, Iran is a victim, he adds, of “the paranoia of religion that sees sin in everything; and in Iran they persecute singing, writing or filming, they go against creation.”
Although Iranian cinema does not have music for the most part, it cannot be attributed only to prohibitions, but also part of an aesthetic approach that has to do with the cinema of Bergman, Dreyer or the Dogma movement of Lars von Trier “.
Common to the interventions of the musicians in the film is the feeling that music is a universal art, that it does not have a language barrier but that it can be felt even in the dark, something that does not happen with painting.
In addition, music can show, without judging, a broken state of mind, such as the melancholic state in which the populations of Syria, Lebanon or Iran now find themselves, in which “through a violin and a adage convey the sadness of a society that does not renounce a sense of humor “.
In one of the scenes, a fisherman appears who, according to Tolentino, “condenses the political discourse of the film”, since he is “an illiterate person capable of citing poets and saying that his daughters will receive the same inheritance as their sons, in against Iranian probate laws. ”
Underlying the intervention of the fisherman, Tolentino points out, a message: “The current situation in Iran is explained by its defense of the West, which plundered its oil, but when the waste in which the Shah lived was seen, the ayatollahs in France began to create a social dynamic related to their traditions and that leads to what is now “.
Two young people talking in the street about love and a final blank shot, in a tribute to Angelopoulos, is the positivist epilogue with which Tolentino ends his film.
The director is already preparing a new project, which he hopes to record in the first quarter of 2022: “It will be a musical, closely related to the texture and shape of ‘Un blues for Tehran’, in which I will again try to ask myself questions, and the political question, but in the same subtle way. ”