Exclusive Interview with Mario Damas Nunes; The Critic Ambassador

 

Although it was the very last day of 34th FIFF and nobody was expecting any international high profile figure, but we received the Ambassador of Portugal in Tehran who happened to be a former movie critic back home during the 70’s, and he was in Fajr because he wanted to apply some Portuguese movies into the festival. We have had an interview with him, asking about his opinion on this edition of FIFF and also, the Iranian cinema.

What is the purpose of you being here in FIFF?

This is something to do with my past, because I used to be a film critic back in my old days and I also was an assistant director in a movie, many years ago before starting my diplomatic career. It was before the 80’s. The purpose is that we have been trying for two consecutive years to submit some Portuguese movies in this festival and for one reason or another, we haven’t succeeded yet. It is always very difficult to find the proper film to show, because of many reasons which some of them are obvious and some of them are not. The obvious ones prevent us to find a movie which can be suitable and accepted. This year we had the chance to have two movies, but finally we got to the conclusion that the production did not met with what the festival wanted. So, why I’m here, I’m here because I like movies and I wanted to watch at least one Iranian movie. Because I do not know much about Iranian cinema, except for Abbas Kiarostami and of course Asghar farhadi. I haven’t seen many Iranian movies, not on TV or the cinemas in my country, maybe in some festivals, but we are probably missing many good movies. Some years ago, when I watched the Past, we discovered at least one side of the Iranian cinema and it was quite interesting, so we followed it and we are probably going to discover more with his latest movie which will be shown in Cannes. The past was a bit of failure, from the structure point of view. The main issue was that he was lost between two cultures; he could not divide the differences between two different civilizations. The thing is that he did not manage to pass the message. I think he was a little bit pushed by the French production and the movie was not as transparent and not as original as it could be as when he was making films in his own country. It does not mean that an Iranian or any other nationalities cannot make a film abroad. That is not the case. The case is that you have to stick to your values and the way of your thinking, and if you make some concessions into a production, you lose the real you and I think that is where he missed. I think A Separation was too stronger of a film than The Past. Let’s hope he comes back to his previous sources, not because he is making it in his own country, cinema is not a matter of nationality; it is the matter of thinking. So that was my brief appreciation of Farhadi’s cinema and the reason why I’m here.

You said that, you are here to watch an Iranian movie, what did you watch?

It was Cyanide, which has an interesting historic point. It is a story of the fighting movement and their conflict toward the Savak, during the king days. From the technical point of view, the photography is really good, because the story takes place in the 70’s and the director use a suitable technique. One of the actors is a disaster, I cannot say if it is him or if he was misdirected.  Generally, it was an interesting film.

How can you compare this year’s event with last year?

Last year, I did not come; we only wanted to have our film in the festival, which got refused and I don’t know why. Even with all the difficulties that could be seen in that movie, I sincerely do not see the point of not being able to show the movie.

Considering your cinematic background, are you willing to overcome those difficulties, maybe next year with another movie?

I will not be in Tehran next year, because my mission will be finished by then, but I will certainly give all the necessary details to the next ambassador of Portugal and ask him to follow them up with the related authorities. And when I am in Lisbon, it is possible that I can find something more proper with the festival’s standards.

Can you name us that specific title which got refused?

Cats have no vertigo. The story is about a boy who lives on a roof for a long time, for many reasons. The title is poetic, because as you know, cats have no vertigo. And him, he is going through a very difficult stage of his life and with the condition he is at, he was some kind of a cat, also on a roof.


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