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Steve Long Director of Global Film Exhibition in conversation with Sasan Golfar Director of  'Remember Its Flight'

Sasan, your film presents a touching narrative between a dove and a cat a relationship not typically seen. Was there a moment in your own life when an unlikely friendship taught you an invaluable lesson about love?

My life was (and is) always rich in terms of friendships and friends and I always learned a lot from friends (my teachers were also my friends, most of the time) and about love, also. But, I can’t remember any “unlikely” friendship, because there were always so many different and various types of friends that made it difficult to say what kind of friendship was unlike for me.

And about the meaning of LOVE, I don’t consider it as a very intimate relationship between two people. I prefer to take the vast meaning of love as the definition. To me, love is a strong bond between two entities that ensures the creation and growth and requires grace and clemency. So you can love other people, humankind as a whole, your pet, animals, the environment, or maybe all of the universe. This concept is a little bit similar to what Mr. Erich Fromm explained in his book, “The Art of Loving”.

But, in order to express and dramatize such a complicated concept you normally have to display two loving people. It’s not an easy task. For example, it seems that Mr. Luc Besson tried to express a similar theme in “The Fifth Element”, in which it appears that the fifth element of creation is love, but after all, he had to show a male and a female kissing in order to simplify it. Anyway, in a much more concise and limited medium like a short film, there are more difficulties and so you have to use metaphors.

How has poetry touched your life personally, and how did you infuse that emotional resonance into your filmmaking?

I’m an Iranian and poetry is a very important part of Iranian culture, literature, and a major heritage of our Persian language. My early affinity to cinema and filmmaking formed in adolescence, when I had the dream of making big epic pictures based on the Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) by Ferdowsi, the great Iranian poet of the 10th century AD. It’s a great book, rich in terms of saga, mythology, and history, a brilliant source for maybe hundreds of potential movies and series, and my dream about the book goes on.

Moreover, I’m a writer, translator, storyteller, journalist, and film/drama/book critic rooted in literature, and naturally, the cinema I love has strong bonds with literature and poetry, though I prefer a non-verbal approach to making short films. In my opinion, poetry in cinema is about vision and voice, about sight and sounds, not words.

The poignant line, “Remember its flight, for the bird is mortal,” is quite moving. Could you share a personal memory or realization that inspired this meditation on mortality?

This line of my synopsis/poem is a quote from a famous Iranian modern poet, Mrs. Forugh Farrokhzad (1934-1967) that became a proverb in the Persian language today (“Parvaaz Ra Be Khater Bespaar, Parandeh Mordanist.” in Persian). There are so many examples of great people that our society lost during a short period of time, we lost so many intellectuals and artists in recent years that we prefer to remember their “Flights” as we know life is so ephemeral.    

Mortality and remembrance are themes that resonate deeply within us all. How have your personal contemplations on these topics been woven into the tapestry of "Remember Its Flight"?

Let me explain a little bit more about this film.

“Remember Its Flight” is the third film of a short trilogy I made in spring 2023 called “Beauty, Love, Freedom”. The two other films of the trilogy are “The Dream of Being Free” and “Andante Innocentemente”. The main and only character of the three films is a cat (Lili-the-cat, my daughter’s pet) which in “The Dream of Being Free” is pondering about the philosophy of life, death, and freedom, in “Andante Innocentemente” learns to stop the worrying and how to love music and beauty, and in this third film, “Remember Its Flight” it learns to love.

As you see, it’s woven in a metaphorical context of pictures that I tried to take in a minimal approach, a low budget, and actually a budget approach. Surely it was the result of long contemplations, but the contemplation continued during the filming and editing. Sometimes I made some improvisations and let the cat, this capricious and sly creature guide me.

Love is often a learned experience. Reflecting on your own life, who has been your 'dove' and what have they taught you about the nature of love?

Surely I have to say it's my wife (who dares to say otherwise?)! But, as I mentioned before, it seems that I learned from so many people, so many friends, so many things, maybe all the universe. So it’s safe to say that the entire universe is a dove!

Creating "Remember Its Flight" must have been a journey of artistic balance. What personal discoveries did you encounter as you brought together the poetic and the cinematic?

I love to pursue the journey of editing. It’s a magical part of the journey. I discovered so many things, so many elements and moments unseen during the editing process and I think that all the editors should have the same feelings.

But, while filming this certain film I had an experience which made my favorite shot of the film. In a moment the cat looked at the camera and I could take a very expressive long take, one rare long expressive close-up of a cat. You know it’s very rare in live action that you could look at the face of a cat and see a number of real emotions, such as love, passion, and envy in the face of an animal. At that minute the cat acted like a professional, like a well-experienced actress!

The title "Remember Its Flight" is a beautiful invitation to reflect. After viewing your film, what personal reflections do you hope it stirs within your audience?

Maybe I hope my audience feels the cat’s (and my) passion to have wings and to fly freely, to be free of unnecessary entanglements. Maybe to reflect upon the essence of love and life. I’m not sure.

Throughout the creative process of this film, what did you learn about yourself as an artist and storyteller, and how has this project influenced your perspective on sharing stories with the world?

 Making a film is normally like a marathon, but making a trilogy in three months, singlehanded, and then making two short documents (“Sisyphus Childhood”, “Call of the Wild”) and making all these five short films in five months, almost singlehanded, having no budgets, almost nothing you could name it “equipment” or “material” or cast or crew, is something more than five marathons.

And then I had to publicize it singlehandedly. Also, I had to be the public relations of five films on my own. The most difficult phase was to explain to hundreds of festival directors and teams that in addition to money shortage and pervasive financial crisis in my country, there is an insoluble technical problem that ordinary people here have no international bank accounts or credit cards with international currencies or payment systems or transactions that seems normal and even obvious for a citizen in the free world and it’s impossible to pay even one cent. So, I think that the marathons are outnumbered. Maybe, during the last months, I could see a number of potentials and abilities I never had believed I had

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