Critics should consider the inner merit of a film: Dariush Mehrjui

Thiruvananthapuram, December 9: Iranian filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui hit out at modern film critics for being caught up in marginal issues, rather than exploring the layers of meaning in a work at the International Film Festival of Kerala’s (IFFK) In Conversation With programme.

“Art feeds on art; 99 per cent of works are inspirations from other works,” said the legendary Iranian director, whose film package is being shown in a Retrospective segment. “How you transfer a work into a screenplay and then interpret it as a film is what is important, not that you have chosen one literary work or another.”

Speaking with film critic Suresh Chabria at Tagore theatre today, Mehrjui spoke about his inspirations in the neo-realism of Italian directors Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, French director Jean-Luc Godard and Robert Bresson, and even Raj Kapoor-film Sangam.  “My favourite film is Godard’s Pierrot le Fou (1965),” said Mehrjui, who is to receive the IFFK’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “It is pure cinema; it gives a new knowledge of life.”

Mehrjui’s strong women characters, in films such as Hamoun (1990) and Sara (1993), is his statement against the forced oppression of women in society. “I wanted to show that they are not weak elements, but are individual with strong personalities, who can say no to the men who try to beat them down,” said the director, who founded New Age film in Iran.

Mehrjui went to the US to study film and even though he witnessed the country change from the Shah’s rule to Ayatholla Khomeini’s rule, he never felt compelled to leave Iran, unlike other filmmakers. “I had offers when I went back to live in Los Angeles and in Paris,” he said. “But I could not adopt myself to American film culture. I had to come back to my roots.”


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