Interview with Writer/Actor Maziyar Khatam (BABA)

A middle-aged Iranian man makes a desperate bid to keep his apartment, as his relationship with his son unravels.

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Interview with Writer/Actor/Producer Maziyar Khatam

1. What motivated you to make this film?

It was a combination of things—the main drive being these tangled feelings I had about my dad and how I grew up. I distinctly remember being in my last year of high school and getting a call from him because his landlord had an issue, and my dad needed me to translate. I thought that this would be a great opening scene for a film.

Thematically, I also wanted to touch upon how my dad and I were drifting apart. My Farsi was getting worse, and his English was almost nonexistent, so communication was agonizing. A lot of our screaming matches were simply because we couldn’t understand each other.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

8 months ago, I wrote the first draft in a day and then took it to Meran & Anya (The Directors) and we started rehearsing it like a play for almost 2 months. We shot it in 3 days and I edited it for about 5 months.

The process was kind of insane because the three of us (Meran, Anya and Me) are highly particular people. There was a lot of back and forth between the three of us. I would describe it as living with a three-headed monster for 8 months.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Chaotic absurdity

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Finding the right actor to play the dad. I wish I was exaggerating, but we probably approached every middle-aged male Iranian actor in Toronto. A lot of them just didn’t understand the film and character. Iranian men are very traditional and the main issue for them was the swearing, but we were lucky to connect with Amir Zavosh.

It’s pretty surreal because he shares the same first name as my dad. I was also acting alongside Amir and playing myself. Amir brought so many ideas to the rehearsals and was a great collaborator.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was really interesting to see the different interpretations people had for the ending. It’s always exciting to share your work.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

In drama class in grade 6. It’s when I knew I wanted to write stories.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Goodfellas

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other

festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking

Career?

I personally love and miss in-person screenings. Being able to do a Q&A and talk to other filmmakers.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your

experiences been working on the festival platform site?

I absolutely love FilmFreeway. It’s the easiest way for filmmakers to submit their work and to keep track of their festival run.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Kabab!

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Right now we’re working on a feature film that’ll be directing/writing. It’ll be in the same vein as Baba. I really want to explore Iranian culture more.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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