Thursday, September 15, 2005

Jazireh Ahani (Iron Island)

Iron Island is the second feature film from Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, who also wrote the screenplay. Iron Island refers to an old, abandoned oil tanker floating in the Persian Gulf, populated with all sorts of people and presided over by Captain Nemat (Ali Nasirian). The ship is a miniature city, with its own school and barter economy, and Nemat is constantly running about, seeing to the needs of the people under his protection, while at the same time overseeing the gradual disassembly of the ship for scrap metal.

The ship contains a whole coterie of characters, including the young man Nemat adopted who is in love with a girl betrothed to another man; the old man who is constantly looking out into the distance for who-knows-what; the young boy who is trying to rescue fish from the hold and return them to the ocean; the teacher who insists the boat is slowly sinking. Under threat from the authorities to abandon the ship, Nemat must decide what to do to keep his little city together.

The film was enjoyable, and it was fascinating to watch the society that Nemat had built up on his own little floating island. The characters were absorbing to watch, especially Nemat, who seemed to be partially motivated out of love for his charges, and partly because he wouldn't know what to do with himself if he wasn't leading the people.

Director Mohammad Rasoulof attended the screening and did a Q&A:

  • The film is about the isolation and loneliness of a society, but one that still has a beautiful life.
  • The story is purely fictional.
  • Nemat disconnects the people from the outside world from the moment they arrive, resulting in the people willing to follow or do whatever the captain wants. When a society is completely cut off from the outside, whatever is left rules you.
  • The film has not yet screened in Iran; they are currently waiting permission that has been promised to them.
  • Every film, poetic or not, goes back to the filmmaker and what they want to say; and this film is what Rasoulof wants to say.
  • Any artistic work has many different layers, with the plot/story being the one on top. The same thing happens in different places, not just one society. The film is not a metaphor for Iran in particular.
  • The script was originally written as a theatre piece 10 years ago. Rasoulof rewrote it two years ago, and put the ship as a character in it.
  • The cast and crew of about 350 had to commute 10 km a day to the ship.
  • The people in the area where filming took place are very religious and were uncomfortable with the idea of being in a film, so Rasoulof had to go to an area about 60 km away, where many of the people had emigrated from elsewhere, for his cast.
  • Ali Nasirian, who plays Captain Nemat, is a renowned actor in Iran, and did a lot for the film.
  • Each one of the characters in the film is based on someone Rasoulof knows. The little fish boy is based on his own childhood and that of his brother. The man watching the horizon is someone Rasoulof remembers from growing up. The teacher is someone he knows well.
  • The idea for the ship just came to Rasoulof, and he wasn't sure how. He just said there are times one is inspired by such ideas.
  • There is one scene when the older boys are watching satellite TV. The TV was originally supposed to be playing Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but they couldn't get the copyright to do so.
  • On the issue of censorship, Rasoulof said he basically made the movie he wanted to, and let the censors excise what they wanted.


Great review mate with no mistake whatsoever!

Wonderfull film! :-)

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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