Bahman Ghobadi's interview by Tobias Grey

Will the Iran Nuclear Deal Benefit Iranian Filmmakers?

The Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, whose poetic and gritty movies such as “A Time For Drunken Horses” (2000), “Turtles Can Fly” (2004) and “No One Knows About Persian Cats” (2009) have all won awards at international film festivals, says he had to leave Iran seven years ago after he was accused of being a separatist. “I made a movie called “Half Moon” [2006] and in that film I was accused of showing a map of greater Kurdistan which was an absolute lie,” Mr. Ghobadi says. “I was going through a tough time with my personal and work life so I felt pressured to leave.” Mr. Ghobadi, 46, who is now based in Iraq but also travels to the U.S. and the U.K. frequently for work, had planned on going back to Iran to visit his aging mother before the nuclear deal was struck. He decided not to after being told by Iranian friends that he was on a list of those for whom it was not safe to go back.

“I had a good feeling when I heard about [the nuclear deal] but at the same time I was nervous from the bottom of my heart,” says Mr. Ghobadi. “Since Rouhani’s election I have not seen anything change. It’s as if there’s a big tank of water but only a glass to empty it with. You don’t see any change but you feel like something positive will happen – especially in the last few days.”

Five Essential Iranian Movies to Watch From the Last 10 Years:

“A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” (2014) by Ana Lily Amirpour. Billed as “the first Iranian vampire Western”, Ms. Amirpour’s debut feature (based on her graphic novel of the same name) is a moody black and white melodrama with Taft in Kern County standing in for an imaginary Iranian ghost-town. Available on Netflix.

“Manuscripts Don’t Burn” (2013) by Mohammad Rasoulof. Based on the alleged events surrounding the assassination attempt of 21 Iranian dissidents in 1995, this is a chilling portrait of the Iranian secret service’s relentless persecution and torture of defiant writers and intellectuals. Available on Netflix.

“A Separation” (2011) by Asghar Farhadi. The first Iranian movie to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, “A Separation” is the quietly devastating portrayal of a couple who break up after a 14-year marriage and struggle for the custody of their only child. Available on Netflix.

“Offside” (2006) by Jafar Panahi. Mr Panahi’s poignant fifth feature film is about a group of young women who try to watch a World Cup qualifying men’s soccer match but are arrested because it is against Iranian law for their gender to enter soccer stadia. Available on Netflix.

“Half Moon” (2006) by Bahman Ghobadi. A touching road movie about an elderly and renowned Kurdish musician who gathers his sons to cross over the border from Iran into Iraqi Kurdistan where they are due to give a concert celebrating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Available on Netflix.

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