It sounds like the two of you grew extremely close.
Once the film was shot I went to him with an interpreter and I told him that it was a wonderful experience working with him, and that there was another film that I wanted to shoot with him in Japan. He thanked me very politely, but afterwards he told my interpreter that although he was touched by my proposal, he didn't want to act as a lead again. He wanted to return to being an extra. I think this is the very definition of oriental wisdom.
You are not only a filmmaker but a poet and photographer. How do you feel when engaging in these different mediums?
Photography, poetry, digital art is just a way of finding a solution to the restlessness of expressing yourself. Photography is the medium in which I feel the most comfortable because there's less of a risk of misunderstanding that you have in filmmaking because of this necessity of storytelling. I find the obligation of telling a story as an obstacle. Whenever people ask me what the story is for my next film, I won't tell and people feel it's because I'm being secretive or something, but it's actually because I'm ashamed to sum up a film in three sentences. I'm sure that true cinema-viewers don't come for the story, it's not about telling stories so why should I sum something up in a pitch? This embarrassment I feel is something that I get rid of through photography.
Your films have been devoid of violence until this one. Why the change now?
It all depends on the situation of the film. There is something very natural in the context of the film. When I used to make films in the Iranian countryside, the characters were anchored in their landscapes, so the silence given by nature was obviously in their minds. The same for the violence. There is violence in real life but I would never impose violence in a film just to attract the audience. I would rather make it more discreet, but here the situation is a violent one, there is something emerging between the characters and I just showed how it came naturally given the situation between the characters and the context of the society and the landscape.
Do you have any interest in returning to your roots and shooting something in Iran?
I am longing to work again in Iran, I have scripts that are ready. I wish to go back in that landscape, but simultaneously I am preparing a project that will be shot in Italy.
There was some news that you’d be working with Juliette Binoche again. When do you think that will happen?
I have plenty of scattered ideas that are there, and then all of a sudden some of them come together and they evolve to become a script and a film happens. One of the ideas I have is that I still want to make another film with Juliette Binoche
and William Shimell
from "Certified Copy." It might happen one day but it's not real just yet.