Inside Iranian Cinema (Part 3/3)


SHANE SMITH: We’re going
right now to meet an imam, or a cleric– so a religious guy, the guys
who run this country. And he’s apparently kind
of a hip imam. He runs a coffee shop now. He’s one of the guys who rebuilt
Iranian cinema after the revolution. And so we’re going to go hear
his stories about that and about being one of the
first religious leaders involved in film. Salaam, Ali. [SPEAKING FARSI] -Where are you from? -Iran. -Iran, yeah. -I’m sorry. SHANE SMITH: In fact, “The
Snowman” is a film that was banned because it featured
cross-dressing. It’s a story about a guy that
wants to move to America. So he dresses like a woman so
he can marry an American man and get a visa. It’s kind of like “Tootsie”
meets “Monty Python.” And it was banned
and shut down. And no one could see it until
the Ayatollah Khomeini saw it, laughed, and said hey, this
is a great movie. I thought it was funny,
it’s fine. So they released it and it
became the number one box office success in
Iranian history. And this is the cleric
that produced it. Thank you very much. Merci. MOHHAMAD-ALI ZAM: Thank you. SHANE SMITH: I guess Iranian
film industry must be doing really well. Because when we were there,
there were about 10 film sets shooting simultaneously. In fact, when we left the tea
house, there was a film shooting in the park right
across the way. They’re about to crash that
bike into that pond. [SPEAKING FARSI] SHANE SMITH: Good work. So finally, after going to about
20 film sets, meeting all the producers and all the
directors and all the actors, it was time for the big
event of the year. It was time for the awards
ceremony at the Film Festival. Now, I’ve been asked the night
before to go accept the award for Guy Maddin who was going
to win Best Experimental Documentary Film for his
movie, “My Winnipeg.” Now, I’m Canadian. Guy’s Canadian. We’d interviewed him for BBS. So I said sure, I’ll go up and
say on behalf of Guy Maddin, thank you very much. And they said no, no, no. And I said OK, I’ll say
Guy says thanks. And they said, just
accept the award. So I twig on to the fact
that they want to seem cosmopolitan. So I take the bait and say
great, I’ll do it. So we’re learning Farsi
to accept the award. And we’re going to be filmed by
three national television stations, too. So we’re going to be fraudulent
celebrities. So the ceremony finally
starts. There’s all kinds of
filmmakers there. There’s government officials. There’s the Mayor of Tehran. And they’re giving out the
awards, until finally Best Documentary Film comes up. [SPEAKING FARSI] Thank you so much, Mr.
Maddin, for your participation in this festival. And congratulations. [SPEAKING FARSI] SHANE SMITH: Thank you
for the festival and the people of Tehran. [SPEAKING FARSI] So there’s a standing ovation. People are freaking out. The Mayor of Tehran comes
up and hugs me. Newspapers and TV are going
“Western director loves Iran.” I was sitting there laughing
my head off. It wasn’t my award. Sorry, Guy. Great film though. That was our last
night in Tehran. Pretty much all the stereotypes
that we had seen in Western media before going to
Iran were dispelled when we went there. We met empowered women. We met progressive clerics. We met beautiful actresses. We met fantastic filmmakers. And these fantastic filmmakers
have been showing another side of Iran, a side of Iran
that we’re now seeing with the dissent. So what we’ve seen for the
past 20 years in Iranian cinema, what we saw when we were
in Tehran, and what the world saw during their last
elections shows that what the Iranian people think and what
the actual government does are completely different. And that hopefully we might be
at the cusp of a new Iranian revolution.

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