Venice 2022, the Iranian Jalilvand: “Only dialogue and hope will save us”

The director presents in competition ‘Beyond the wall’: “In Iran there is a bipolar situation, but we must seek balance”

Only dialogue between the parties will save Iran from violence, only hope will save humanity from the end. The Iranian director Vahid Jalilvand, in competition at the Venice Film Festival with ‘Beyond the wall’, summarizes the meaning of the film and its presence on the Lido.

Starring Navid Mohammadzadeh, Diana Habibi, Amir Aghaee, Saeed Dakh, Danial Kheirikhah and Alireza Kamali, the film centers on the story of Ali, a blind man, who is trying to take his own life when he is interrupted by the caretaker of the building where he lives. He is informed that the police are looking for a runaway woman who appears to be hiding in the building. Little by little, Ali discovers that the fugitive, Leila, is in her apartment. The woman participated in a workers’ protest that led to chaos, and is shocked by the disappearance of her four-year-old son, which occurred when she was removed in a police van. Gradually, Ali becomes emotionally attached to her. Eager as he is to escape reality, helping Leila becomes a refuge in his world of imagination.

“The missing link in the modern world is love and to find it we need sacrifice and dignity,” explains the director. “Every day all over the world allies itself to make us lose hope. If humanity does not ally to keep this hope alive in their hearts and minds, it will be lost. And in this film the going back and forth between reality and fantasy is precisely the battle to keep hope alive, “he adds.

A reporter recalls that in the summer of 2021 the director sent a message to the Iranian security forces to lay down their weapons and asks if the film has the same message. And he immediately replies: “I did not want to answer political questions – Jalilvand said – but I will answer your question anyway. My statement was connected to the lack of water in Iran but, as has already been done on social media, she interpreted that I say put your weapons down. But in the same sentence I called the officers of the security forces ‘brothers’. And, in this film, the hero is a member of the security forces. ” As for the situation in Iran, “it is a bipolar situation – adds the director – we must reach a balance between the two sides: this will allow dialogue. There is not only black or white. With a rapprochement there would be less violence. You can say that this is the answer that I give because I live in Iran, I work in Iran and I do not want to have the same fate as the other Iranian director in competition Panahi who was arrested. But I call you my brothers and I also call the security officers brothers. that’s what I believe. And I would continue to be convinced even if I lived in Europe or the United States. ”

Even the interpreters decline political questions: “I will only answer questions about cinema”, says the protagonist Navid Mohammadzadeh to those who ask him if it is difficult to work in Iran at the moment. And he hijacks the answer to his work for this film: “This is a rare character in Iranian cinema. I am proud to be part of this project. I lost 17 kg to get into character. It was an experience that also helped me to see who I loved and who around me with other eyes. It had an effect on me as a person. When I left the theater after seeing the finished film I started crying. All the dreams I had when I started doing this job yes They are made”. The director also guided the female protagonist towards a total identification with the character: “The director asked me to live like Leila, to support myself with jobs, without asking for money from the family. Then he wanted me to find the child my son was making. in the movie. My sister saw me two months later and she hardly recognized me. ”