A Statement by director Mania Akbari.
The reservoir of thought and creativity for artists and film-makers the world over is everything they know, or indeed, do not know about themselves. They transform to images everything that already lives within them, together with all they acquire and absorb.
To survive, and to sustain their artistic and intellectual path, artists work hard, and deal with themselves and their inner essence in different ways. They work hard to keep alive the entity that lives within them, namely their creativity, which certainly needs care and attention.
It is precisely this concept of creativity which forms the most important part of the world of an artist. But when there is fear, anxiety and external restrictions, it is not possible to have this creativity. This is because up to a point, these fears, anxieties and worries may bring about a state of internal flux for you, and you may be able to engage in creativity within that particular milieu. However, after you reach a certain point along the route, these fears and anxieties will act as a major blockade. This is because, after all, the soul and spirit of a creative person cannot co-exist with false fears.
Unfortunately, in my geographical expanse and land, which is known as Iran, my endeavours to create and produce always faced severe bans and restrictions. I was never granted a production licence or indeed screening permit for any of my films. Nonetheless, I had to continue working so that I, and my art, would survive. I could not surrender to the sanctions and restrictions. Surrender was a kind of death for me.
Different film-makers have different points of view, behaviours and conducts. There are film-makers in Iran who produce films with official permits, and they continue working in that system. Unfortunately, however, I was never one of them, and I was always deprived of that opportunity. This was intensely painful for me. After all, all film-makers have a dream and aspiration to have their works viewed on the cinema screens of the land of their birth, by an audience coming from the same place, and in a language which has taught them the vocabulary of life. Sadly, for me, this never materialized.
I did not view and approach cinema in the strict sense of cinema. Instead, I was an explorer who was keen to dissect life on the silver screen, perhaps to arrive at an alternative meaning for this sorrowful and seemingly pointless march towards death, moving closer with each passing day. I always faced plenty of restrictions and obstacles, and of course, my gender was a significant contributing factor too. As time went by, making films in Iran just kept becoming more and more difficult, and as the evidence shows, many film-makers were threatened, and some were even thrown in jail.
I do not believe that arts should merely be a political cry, or should always be infused with a political vision. But I do believe that it is in fact invariably politics which ruthlessly permeates and contaminates the arts, and creates a political definition out of both the artists and the arts. This is precisely where the artists feel great pain and become vulnerable to harm and hurt. To escape this state of contamination, I left Iran, with grief and sorrow, despite all my love and fascination for that geographical expanse. I came to London and continued working on my last film, which I had been producing clandestinely. I edited and finished that film in London.
Today, an artist is a creature without a homeland, and must therefore think with a global consciousness and language.
Mania Akbari's text appears in the booklet which accompanies the DVD release.
A short excerpt from the booklet
Babylon London Orbital by Sybille
Evening Standard by Steve Morrissey
The Skinny by Josh Slater-Williams
Close-Up Film by Simon Bull
Cinemas Online by Dave Lancaster
The F-Word by L. W. Yates
Film Comment by Rahul Hamid
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Denver Film Festival
Sound on Sight
(i) From Tehran with Love:
BFI Southbank's Mania Akbari's Season, July 2013
(ii) A statement by Mania Akbari in response to the Iranian government's arrest and imprisonment of the Iranian distributor of One. Two. One
(iii) A new book by Mania Akbari (curently in Farsi with English version coming soon) - available to download here
(iv) Mania Akbari's From Tehran To London
(vi) The History of Iranian Cinema by Massoud Mehrabi
(vii) Mania interviewed at BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour
(viii) Mania interviewed at BBC World Service 'Outlook' (Starts 26m 54s)
(ix) Now You See Her - A profile of Mania Akbari in Sight & Sound (July 2013)