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An interview with Mohammad Ali Talebi on the occasion of the screening of his latest film, The Wall
The Lost Cinema
by Massoud Mehrabi

Born in Tehran in 1958, Mohammad Ali Talebi graduated from Tehran University's College of Dramatic Arts. He started his career in cinema by working as assistant director and director of documentary films for the Iranian television.
Talebi has contributed to the formation of the puzzle-like image of the post-revolution Iranian cinema which would be short of something without this piece. A review of his track record from City of Mice (1985) to The Wall, provides an analysis of policy making in Iranian cinema and the behavior of private sector in the film industry as well as a glimpse of the trend of filmmaking in post-revolution Iran. Every one of these titles could be the name of a chapter in this analysis: They could start from City of Mice and how you could entertain millions of viewers, The Finishing Line and the trend suggested by the private sector, Wilderness and the fate of a state-sponsored mystical cinema, The Boot and special position of Children and young adults' cinema, Tic Tack and why Iranian filmmakers liked the stories of Hans Christian Anderson Award winner Houshang Moradi Kermani, Bag of Rice and the issue of Iranian films being acclaimed at international film festivals, Willow and Wind and the contagious Kiarostami fever, You are Free and the status of cinema in the "reform" years, The Redness of Unripe Apple / The Full Moon and why filmmakers turned to television and The Wall and the fluctuations in Iran's commercial cinema.
Such an analysis may be interesting to those who simply like the Iranian cinema, but what is it to Talbei, as a filmmaker who has refused to make vulgar and run-off-the-mill films and has not gained anything beside several awards from film festivals? Will it make filmmaking any easier for him and make him financially better off? I do not think so, although all of his films end with a victory and a hope in the future.

 

Film International: After The Boots and Tic Tack you made Bag of Rice which was in the children's films class. You seem to be one of the few filmmakers who still believe in children's cinema.

Mohammad Ali Talebi: Undoubtedly starting my training as a filmmaker at the Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (CFIDCAYA) has left an impact on my work. There you begin to make yourself familiar with children in one way or another. I still feel the same way. Lately I have been paying visits to the place with various excuses, although I can no longer make a film there. I had a few proposals from the center but I cannot come to terms with their subjects.

FI: What is the problem? Why you cannot come to terms with their subjects?

MT: They look at everything with a certain attitude. There is nothing wrong with that but it could adversely affect your work. Sometimes they even forget the children. Nevertheless I like the center. Some I go there to do some consultation work. I was somehow born there. So it brought me closer to films for children. Any acclaimed filmmaker has made a few films with the center. Amir Naderi, Kiarostami and even Shahid-Saless have made a few films there. ...

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