September 12, 2003

La Prensa Persa

Editors Note: The biweekly column of La Prensa Persa (The Persian Press), is an opportunity for members of the middle-eastern communities to communicate and talk about the many issues facing them, immigration law, civil and constitutional rights to name a few, which not only impact that community but also impact the Hispanic community.

You don’t have to be old to become a Celeb.!

By Kathy Hadizadeh

Each and every one of us has some fears inside. Some fears are caused internally and some by external forces beyond our control. Just sit there and imagine some of the fears surrounding you each day unconsciously: fear of losing your job, fear of losing your life partner, fear of having an accident, etc. You are surrounded by all these and many more causes of fear. But how many times have any of these fears hindered you from making a simple decision?

In the movie “Joy of madness” we face four people whose lives and decisions are crippled by fear. Every one of them find a reason to be afraid and allow this fear to overcome their life. “Samira Makhmalbaf”, the accredited young Iranian director, travels to Kabul to find a cast for the shooting of her movie. Samira raised in the ideology that life is nothing but the poetic words flowing through the hands of the ordinary people, seeks her cast among the ordinary people of Kabul.

But in Kabul, finding the cast for the film among ordinary people is Not an easy job. No one accepts to act in her film “5 in the afternoon”. Everyone is afraid of others. What is interesting is that Samira is not alone in her quest for finding the cast, Hana, her 14 year old sister carrying her digital camera accompanies her. Hana’s camera is capturing the reactions of people to the casting proposal of her sister. Being a 14 year old, no body considers her serious which becomes an added plus. That is how Hana’s film: “The Joy of Madness” becomes a true mirror of today’s Afghan people and their fears.

Hana says: “If cinema is like a mirror for society to see and correct itself, my film is the mirror in front of a society which proves to be made of people afraid of one another and of cinema. Behind this fear there are thousands of pains and secrets.”

Hana in her own words explains the characters of her film: “All my characters are cowardly people. For example the coward mullah is afraid that people would not look up to him and he would loose his position and prestige. The woman who intends to get married is afraid she would loose her opportunity for marriage if she acted in the film. The crazy family find cinema as the murderer of their child and “Agheleh” who turned to be Samira’s lead actress is afraid of everything, the return of Taliban and people’s gossip behind an actress.”

Maybe Hana never knew that her digital camera film would turn into a 35mm film that made her one of the youngest celebrities in the world. “Joy of Madness” debuted at the 60th Venice film festival.

Hana the youngest director in the cinema history is so young that under Italian law, as a minor was not allowed to see the movie she had directed! Fortunately the Festival organizers got a last minute permission to let Hana hit the red carpet of the festival.

Hana has had a rather extraordinary education. Hana left school at the age of 8 after second grade just to join her father’s art school. Her father, “Mohsen Makhmalbaf”, an internationally infamous director, held some art/film making classes at home. Hana joined those classes. About these classes Hana says: “I attended 30 classes held in our house. I had an easier time understanding some of the subjects because my father simplified them but I got a feel of those that were harder to grasp. We learned some courses for better living like swimming, bicycling, skating, cooking, urban studies and driving and these were all practical. We studied some subjects to learn to be humans like Gnostics and psychology but those to at the end would become practical. Other classes such as editing, photography, coaching actors, script and story writing were practical.”

Hana says that most of her friends were interested to study at such a school but could not continue it for long. This school had one principle: concentration. It is not important what your interest is or what you wish to acquire but you have to pursue that one particular interest for 8 hours a day for at least one month.

This exceptionally talented girl, Hana follows her dad’s ideology that cinema does not only belong to old men and women, adolescents can make their own films too especially with digital cameras that have simplified technical problems. So, open your eyes to grasp the opportunity! May be the next lucky person to hit a red carpet is no one but YOU!

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