“My oil is in your hands”. This film is taking a creative approach to tell a horrendous reality. Subtle touches here and there, showing western countries support to the long life of this regime. Nice reminding part of political western women wearing the veil when meeting head of state of Iran…This film showing a big show outside Iran with glitters and glamour and put side by side Real Face of Children, Girls, Boys,Mothers, Fathers who have been killed and tortured. Impressive.
The author uses the weapon of paradox and irony to describe a ferocious dictatorship. Sometimes the forcing takes on the tone of reality and this is perhaps the most disturbing part of the narrative.
Currently I am a professional filmmaker in the field of short films, commercials, documentaries and music videos. I entered the film industry as a cross-comer. The first film project in my life was documenting and portraying homeless people in Berlin. Here I taught myself how to film and edit. After that it went on with music videos and commercials and meanwhile I am professionally active in different film genres as a director and producer.
Like many Iranians, I was greatly shocked after Jina Mahsa’s death and the subsequent protests in Iran. I first tried to raise awareness about the situation in Iran on social media and went to every Iran demonstration in Berlin. But I quickly realized that this was not enough for me and that as a filmmaker I have much greater possibilities to set a statement. So I came up with the idea to write this short film. I wrote the script in such a way that it could be realized on one day of shooting in one location. Then I asked my film network in Berlin for support. My crew realized that it is a very important and emotional topic for me, which is why most people agreed directly without long considerations.
I have asked all the production companies I have ever worked with if they could support me in this heartfelt project. Fortunately, some production companies supported me financially to realize this project. Since it was important for me to inform the people and to make them aware of the situation in Iran, I also consciously decided not to make a festival film out of it but to post the film directly online. So we put the complete film directly on YouTube and Instagram. We had some famous people who shared the film on their social media channels, which is why the film quickly received a lot of attention in Germany. I think the film also created some reach in other countries, but unfortunately I don’t have exact tracking information on this. I can only say that I didn’t think that the film would spread so quickly and I was very grateful for all the people who helped me with this project.
How did the production process go? How were the actors chosen? Were there any difficulties?
Since the short film is based on true facts, it took me about 3-4 weeks to complete my research and finalize the script. I watched a lot of original protest videos, so I knew before the shoot which real protest footage I wanted to use where in the edit. After that the normal production process began, we first looked for a location that would be suitable for an award ceremony. Since I wanted to shoot after the final version of the script already in two weeks, so it was all very short notice, most of the larger event locations in Berlin were also already booked. Fortunately, one event location still had capacity on our scheduled shooting day, which is why we were able to realize it there.
The actors were requested through friendly casting agencies. For the role of the female host, it was important to me that it was an Iranian actress in Germany, so that she could feel the suffering of the script 100%. This was also the most difficult role to get, because most Iranian actresses were very afraid to take part in the film, since I clearly mention Khamenei’s name and show all the cruel deeds of the Iranian regime. So almost all Iranian actresses from Germany turned me down, except for Shermine Shahrivar, who was so brave and not afraid of any consequences that I finally chose her.
Fear was a constant theme during production which made things difficult. Many people, even in the Western world, are very intimidated by the Iranian regime and its secret service agents who even spy on opponents of the regime here. So a lot of people I was in contact with warned me or advised me not to make this film at all. Others helped me but preferred not to be in the credits. However, I never let this fear affect me because I knew that the message I wanted to spread was an important one.
The making of Corruption on Earth
From a technical point of view, how was the film made?
We shot the film with very high quality equipment: 2x Arri Alexa LF cameras. We shot all the moving shots with a Steadicam. Due to time pressure, we had to shoot all the close-up audience reactions in 30 minutes. I can still remember how rushed we were, but in the end it was enough. We shot the entire film in 12 hours. The entire production process from writing the script to the final production took a total of three months.
The film uses satire and irony despite the tragic theme. It is known that all dictatorships and religions cannot stand laughter and comedy. They always consider them very serious threats and repress them savagely.
Why do you think this happens?
I think that all dictatorships not only can’t stand comedy, but also can’t stand media critical of the government in general and try to suppress them by all possible means. This has been seen in the case of several Iranian musicians who were arrested simply for their songs, but also in the case of filmmakers who were imprisoned and banned from their careers because of their critical films. That’s why I have the greatest respect for the Iranian creative industry, which nevertheless expresses its opinions uncensored and doesn’t allow itself to be silenced by the regime.
Did the team take personal risks in making the film?
With the film we risked that everyone involved would not be able to enter Iran anymore because there was a risk of being imprisoned there. This is of course a bigger commitment for me, as I have my roots there and I would really like to travel to Iran again. But I hope for the downfall of the Iranian regime and that one day I can invite all my friends to a free Iran.
Can you tell us what is happening in Iran lately? Does the women’s protest have any chance of success or has the repression won? In Europe, news about Iran reached only when there were large protests and tragic events. For the rest we know almost nothing.
I would say that the women life freedom movement is a successful movement, even if it has unfortunately not yet led to the overthrow of the regime, it has achieved a lot in Iran itself and worldwide. The global attention and empathy for the Iranian people and their fight for freedom has never been greater than last year. At the large demonstration in Berlin with over 100,000 people, I have never seen more people at another demonstration in my life who stood up for a free Iran. Iranian women have covered front pages and Narges Mohammadi recently received the Nobel Peace Prize from prison. I would say that it really woke everyone up to stop being silent and instead defend themselves against a dictatorship and this mindset will no longer be so easy to get out of people’s heads.
A revolution is a marathon, not a sprint, so it will take a lot of perseverance to rid Iran of these murderers at the top.