‘From Vancouver to Isfahan’ is an Iranian documentary about an Iranian young man who ten years after living in Canada visits his motherland in Isfahan, the third largest city in Iran after ‘Tehran’ and ‘Mashhad’. The documentary is in two parts and in Farsi (Persian) language made in 2010. It was mad by ‘Ardeshir Ahmadi’, an Iranian filmmaker who lives in Canada . I knew Ardeshir from a couple of years ago through the ‘youtube’. At the time he used to upload his first videoclips on the youtube.
I was watching his works and sometimes I would leave a comment for them until he replied to me and we got to know each other. It seems during these years his works got much much better in comparison to his earlier works. The film starts with a shot through the airplane’s window while it is landing at Tehran airport. A sound of heartbeat gives a special atmosphere to the film and makes the viewer ‘feel’ something new and ‘alive’ is going to happen.
The camera then very fast takes us to the streets of Tehran and the people who are living there.
A persian rap music has a great combination with the pictures, the new generation of Iran who dress up and make up in Western style. Some who have done cosmetic surgery and nose jobs. Each episode of the film is separated with a dark fading transition which come up with a title to show the viewers where they are. The camera is genuine and goes everywhere, it shows the good parts and the bad parts of the city both.
The modernity and the tradition living together, just shoulder in shoulder.
I think one of the best things for students to improve their ability for documentary production is watching a good and a bad documentary. Sometimes we can learn from watching a bad documentary how easily we could avoid of those mistakes, if we wanted to make them. Despite the magnificent work of ‘Ardeshir’, I can see the film still has a number of mistakes. Changing the scenes are very fast and it might be because of the time limiting. Some shots, especially in the night time seems are not clear enough and there is a lack of lighting.
Sometimes voices can not be heard when they are in a ush. After living Tehran to Isfahan the journey continues by bus. The road is beautiful and everywhere when the bus stops for a break, the camera starts to work. The camera goes every where,while talking to people and snipping a cup of tea or smoking a ‘shisha’-the traditional Middle East tobacco smoking,and even inside the bathroom. The film continues going to Isfahan and show some new shots, the traditional Iranian sport,’Zoor khaneh’. One of the most interesting shots is in ‘Zoor kaneh’, when the traditional music and traditional dresses of sportsmen gives an atmosphere of old Iran.
People in this film are real and express themselves in each way that they feel right. While a young man is talking about decreasing of the effect of religion all over the world, a mature taxi driver believes the rate of Islam in Europe is increasing. The film is finishing by backing to Tehran airport while people are waiting for their flights. Personally I felt Ardeshir could continue the film and show the different parts of Isfahan and compare it with the life style in Vancouver. He does not show anything in vancouver and people’s life in there.
He could also use the graphic and map to show the distance in this journey for those people who are not familiar with Iran. I believe there is a lack of a coherence in the whole story of the film and footages. if I wanted to make this film I definitely would go plan by plan. The second documentary which I watched was an Irish film named, ‘Curious Journey’ made by Kenneth Griffith in 1973. The story is about the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. Griffith gathering together a group of veterans of the Irish rising.
These nine people who almost half a century after the terrible events they lived through, this highly diverse group branded terrorists by the British in their youth, and now highly respected citizens, give their own vivid account of what it was like to live through those turbulent times. The film starts with a close up shot on these nine people’s profiles. The narrator of this film has an English accent, and I believe this was chosen deliberately to increase the effect of the story and the way that should seems real.
The camera at the beginning of the story of each of these nine people comes through the window. Their background while having an interview is full of the old pictures and the antique objects and elements which belong to those time when the ester rising started. All interviews took place at people’s private houses and and all are either MCU or CU. The interviewee is the same person who is narrator and sometimes during a part of interview, his voice with that English accent can be heard, even though we never see his face.
The documentary reveals emotional feeling, especially when these people reminiscing over old comrades who lost their lives in the struggle. The narrator links these people interviews together and tells the story with ambition and great passion. At the most part of the documentary, people interviewed telling the story instead of the narrator. I have to say I really enjoyed the documentary, in term of the historical aspect and because of my interest to Irish history. Curious journey provides.