Wednesday 13 December 2017 - 16:26

Darryl Els, The Director of South Africa's ENCOUNTERS Festival: I Wished to Get to know Iranian Art and Culture

Darryl Els, the director of the ENCOUNTERS, the most important South African documentary film festival, has traveled to Iran as a jury member of Cinema Verite.
Darryl Els, The Director of South Africa
The reporter of Public Relations bulletin interviewed this successful cinema artist and director:
What motivated you to accept to the invitation to travel to Iran and be a jury member of Cinema Verite film festival?
For many years, I was looking for an opportunity to travel to Iran in order to see the Iranian culture and its various aspects, such as food and art. Since I was much younger, I wished to travel to Isfahan; it was one of my great dreams, but due to the long distance, it was never possible until I received the invitation from the organizers of the Cinema Verite to judge in this cinematic event, which I proudly accepted. In my opinion, the experience of watching documentaries and encountering Iranian culture is a very special thing.
How much do you know about Iran's cinema, especially Iranian documentaries, before traveling here?
My knowledge of the Iranian cinema is by watching the great films of Abbas Kiarostami and Asghar Farhadi. In fact, I had the chance to meet with the great filmmakers who has traveled to South Africa over the years to the Durban Film Festival (the oldest and most important film festival in South Africa). But my knowledge is limited to this, until I accepted managing of Encounters Film Festival and so I become more and more familiar with Iranian documentary and experimental cinema and met some of its young filmmakers, who were very energetic and smart.
What features have made you so attracted to Iranian culture and art? Do you see any mutual aspect between the two countries?
Iran and South Africa are very similar in some aspects. Both are very complex societies that have gone through their particular historical crises. There is energy, passion and curiosity in the face of the young Iranian filmmakers that I have met over these years. In a way, they can be said to represent another aspect of Iran that has been less seen and known. I think the same thing is happening to the young filmmakers in South Africa, as if some kind of cultural reconstruction is happening.
What are the conditions of documentary filmmaking in South Africa? What challenges do such filmmakers face there?
I think the conditions for making documentaries has its own particular difficulties all over the world, and finding a specific investor and buyer in this field is a global problem. Some of the challenges are very specific to this field, including the fact that almost no distributer is doing this in a broad public scale everything gets political. As a result, it can be said that important distributers withhold their support from the production of documentary films and their young filmmakers. Currently, many who go to for making documentaries in fact get involved in a kind of deconstruction because they have to work outside the mainstream. Such limitations are attractive, but they ring their own specific challenges; challenges that filmmakers need to learn how to manage.
Do you have any special recommendation for young filmmakers?
It seems very important to me that the festivals, whether in Africa or Middle East, Asia or South America, should mutually be connected and interact. This interaction is fascinating, and it's very important for me personally to learn new things from others, especially from younger filmmakers. Although my knowledge of Iranian society is not very deep yet, in my conversations with the young filmmakers who I met I recognized some changes that are occurring in the Iranian society. As I said, the same thing is happening for young filmmakers in South Africa, and they are also looking for a language, so they can make a difference in the transformation of their society. That's why I think we should expand our relationships so that we can learn more from each other.
Story Code: 3182
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