Interview with Jasmin Mozaffari – Director of Firecrackers (2018)
“ YOU HAVE TO MAKE FILMS. YOU HAVE TO FEEL THAT PASSION ABOUT IT, BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH SACRIFICE. “
Jasmin Mozaffari from Canada was recently on Stockholm Film Festival for a film. She has directed Firecrackers, which screened and won for best film at the 2018’s festival. This is an interview with her.
How is it to be here at the Stockholm International Film Festival?
Very excited to be here. First time in Sweden. First time in Stockholm. I always wanted to come here, so I’m very happy to have my film played here.
How did you come up with the idea for this movie?
Firecrackers… The inspiration for this film started with a short film I made in film school about five years ago. From there I expanded the short film to a feature film, also called Firecrackers. That’s is sort of the genesis of the idea came from. But for me, I always wanted to explore these ideas of patriarchal impressions in film. And I wanted to go deeper than what I did with the short film. So, the feature film sort of gave me the license to explore those themes.
What was the hardest or the easiest thing to shoot with Firecracker?
I think Firecrackers has a lot of difficult moments and hard moments, to shoot and direct. Especially for the actors. There’s the sexual content. There’s content that has to do with trauma. So, those scenes and that such subject of the matter was hard to tackle. However, we spend a lot of time in rehearsal, almost a year with the two lead girls. Sort of improvisation. Building up this trust between myself and the actors. I think, having that trust is important if you’re going to do a film that sort of tackle this subject matter.
What made you become a filmmaker and how has it changed your life so far?
I decided to become a filmmaker when I was in my early twenties after I went to school for a few years, for other things. I went to school for journalism and I also studied film, theoretically. I wrote about in school and I realized why not making films. That’s sort of when I changed my career path and went to film school. It came to me sort of later in life. I always love films growing up, love to write. I love to do art. But I didn’t have a lot of female role models as directors. I think that sort of never… It never occurs to me that I would be a director until I was older.
Do you have any specific goals for your upcoming career?
I think I’ve a lot of goals as a filmmaker. On a very simple level, I would like to direct television as well as make films. With my hope, I want to say something about… I would love to empower women and sort of address the subject matter that has to do race… especially because I’m Iranian. I want to explore the subject matter about where personal interaction feminism lies. No matter what I make, it has to kind of be from that lens. Going forward, I want to keep developing movies that challenge assumptions… Not only women but race, sexuality, gender. These are things that I’m passionate about. Making films about that.
Do you have any good tips for those who want to be a filmmaker?
My tip for those who want to become a filmmaker, are basically make sure it has to be your whole world. It has to be something that you… You couldn’t do anything else. You have to make films. You have to feel that passionate about it because there is so much sacrifice that comes to be a filmmaker. There are no guarantees. Very risky. But if you love it and you want to be a storyteller, I think it’s great if you can pursue that. I think you always should pursue making films that come from a place of truth and not to imitate anybody else. Do you, basically and don’t try to imitate anybody else. Do what means a lot to you.
How do you stay fresh if you’ve a writer’s block or when things don’t go your way?
I think there is a lot of challenges when it comes to developing and writing a film. Writer’s block is definitely one of them. I think the thing is it good to take the pressure of yourself and sort of, write it down to smaller parts. For instance, I was writing a script and I had a bunch of scenes that I wanted to get through on one day, but I couldn’t because I had writer’s block. I was sort of saying to myself: write one scene today. And often you would end up writing more or take a break. You don’t have to write every single day. Just go. It could be just taking a walk to take a week off the script. Sometimes the time distance gives you a new perspective and that’s really important when you’re writing – not to overwhelm with expectations that are not realistic.
These days there are a lot of independent movies screening together with the mainstream movies like blockbusters, how would you say the future for the independent film is? Would you say that Hollywood has an expiration date?
I think that independent films and Hollywood films have a place in society. There’ll always be an audience who wants to see big action movies. Even I like those films too, but I think that independent film should coexist with Hollywood. I think Hollywood is more now than ever, looking for independent auteur voices. Even before those big action films, which is really exciting but I think that independent films will continue to thrive because now more people, diverse voices and marginalized voices who didn’t have the opportunity to make a film, are now able to make films. I think that independent films will become diverse and speak to audiences who never were able to be represented onscreen. I’m very excited and optimistic about that. I think Hollywood will always have a place… If you think about it… Black Panther Rich Asians. You sort of melting down these voices with big budgets and I think there is a place for that too.
Do you know any Swedish movies?
I don’t know of the top of my head. There are great independents. Less famous. There is a strong independent film scene thriving here.
Have you seen like Ingmar Bergman?
I’ve actually. Toronto is having a whole retrospective their work. Right now. But I’m not there to see it. I’ve seen like only one film by Ingmar Bergman, but I want to see the whole collection. It is happening right now in Toronto and I’m not there. But I need to educate myself more on Ingmar.
What do you think is the main difference between Swedish and Canadian film culture?
I think there is a lot of overlap between Swedish film culture and Canadian film culture because they are dealing with sort of truly independent voices. Again, in contrast to Hollywood voices. I think that Sweden and European…Scandinavian films, in general, are really cool because they take a lot of risks. And I think that Canadian films, the English Canadian films, traditionally taking fewer risks but Canadian, French films in Quebec takes a lot of risks. When I think of all the Scandinavian independent film culture, the independent culture, there is a lot of exciting new young voices. In Canada as well, there’s a lot of new young voices. I think that there is a lot of overlap there. In terms of Swedish films, I really like sort of a new example of Swedish work. I really like Ruben Östlunds films. Force Majours in particular. When I saw that film, I was just taken with the… In Canada, it’s really popular. I really like his work.
Do you have any future in the making, right now?
Right now, I don’t have future scripts that are written. I have ideas, but I haven’t been able to find the time because Firecrackers is taking over my life. But now, I think after… After going to festivals, I’ll have time to develop ideas. The ideas I’m thinking of are my personal experience. Iranian mix-race growing up in Canada. I think I would explore that subject matter in my next films.
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