Berlinale 2023 ::Niki Karimi "In Iran, I hope the arts and artists will experience a new era"
Le Monde, Interview by Clarisse Fabre (Berlin, special correspondent) Posted today at 10:00 a.m.
While at the Berlinale, the Iranian actress, director and producer speaks, in an interview with "Le Monde", on the situation in her country, after five months of revolt since the death of Mahsa Amini.
Iranian actress and star Niki Karimi, born in 1971, lives in Tehran and was Abbas Kiarostami's assistant for a long time, before moving behind the camera. After her first short films – To Have or Not to Have (2001), about infertility and couples who cannot have children –, she directed her first feature films, which were acclaimed by critics: One Night | Une nuit (2006 ) was selected at Cannes (Un certain regard) and, more recently, Ali Asgari's Until Tomorrow, a Niki Karimi production, was unveiled at the Berlinale in 2022 (Panorama section).
Iranian actress and director Niki Karimi at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival on February 20, 2023. (SOEREN STACHE / DPA PICTURE-ALLIANCE / AFP)
Niki Karimi also studied design at Santa Monica College (California), in the United States, in the early 1990s, before returning to Iran. As a translator, she has translated into Persian all of Hanif Kureishi's books, Buddhist poems, as well as an autobiography by Marlon Brando (The songs my mother taught me, Belfond, 1996, co-written with Robert Lindsey).
Entertainment pictures of the day: Joely Mbundu, Thorvaldur Kristjansson, Kristine Kujath Thorp, Gizem Erdogan, Niki Karimi, Leonie Benesch, Judith State, Alina Tomnikov, Kayije Kagame, Yannick Jozefzoon und Benedetta Porcaroli at the presentation of the European Shooting Stars Awards 2023 and the premiere of the movie Golda at the Berlinale 2023 / 73rd Berlin International Film Festival Berlinale Palast. Berlin, February 20th, 2023
Passing through Berlin, during the 73rd edition of the festival, which lasts until February 26, the director came to award prizes to young talents and was invited to program a film as part of the 2023 retrospective on coming of age movies, training novels. Without hesitation, she chose Where is the friend's home? (1987), by Kiarostami.
The protest movement, born in September 2022, the day after the death of #MahsaAmini, the young woman arrested for a badly worn headscarf, certainly arouses hope, but generates increasingly strong repression in Iran.
What is your view of the situation today?
From the beginning of this movement, I was in Tehran and I was very touched by what was happening. Why should young people not be able to express themselves about their future, about what they want? I also saw the hope in their eyes.
Thousands of people were arrested, people were sentenced to death. Do you have relatives who have been arrested, imprisoned?
Yes, there are so many actors and actresses, directors and artists. who have mobilized: they want to be their own voice, to be able to express themselves as they see fit.
What does the release of filmmaker Jafar Panahi, on February 3, the day after the announcement of his hunger strike, after two hundred days in prison, mean to you?
Jafar Panahi is a filmmaker, he must be able to practice the profession he loves. In his films, Panahi talks about the values he believes in: he is a friend, I worked with him and he collaborated on my film, One Night | Une nuit. But I'm no political expert. To express myself, I use the language of cinema, and this must not be affected by politics. This is what I like in Kiarostami's work, with his always simple, poetic devices.
For Kiarostami, humanity and knowledge were more important than cinema, maybe that’s why his films have touched the hearts of the audience for years. Short films, with small budgets but born from the heart, which was seen and liked by everyone without any effort.
“Where is the friend's home?” I saw it for the first time when I was seventeen years old, on Friday evening on TV and I will never forget that feeling. A world of another kind of cinema opened up for me, which was poetic, human and extremely different. It became a bridge for me between literature, my main interest, and cinema and poetry.