IRAN, AUSTRALIA / 2007 / Farsi / Color / Video / 81 min
Director, Script, Editing, Sound, Narrator: Maani Petgar
Photography: Maani Petgar, Anahid Saaber, Touradj Aslani
Music: Klaus Schulze
Appearances: Anahid Saaber, Danesh Shavi, Ali Tavassoli, Farnaz Badiee, Mehdi Rusta
Producers: Bahram Badiee, Maani Petgar
Executive Producer: Touradj Aslani
Associate Producer: Kambiz Safari
Production Company, Source: Unexposed Films
An Iranian woman studying film comes back to her home country, camera in hand. The journey begins the moment she opens the lid of her video camera. This film’s director and his assistant travel with her in a van in search of their own next film project. They travel from Tehran to film Masjed Soleyman, said to be the first Iranian city that was exposed to Western culture, and Abadan, home to many Arabs. They reflect on contemporary Iran as they intersect with passersby in various places. What results is a travelogue that closes in on and pulls away from the directors’ own stories of the people that they have encountered, inviting the viewer to follow their journey.
[Director’s Statement] The idea for Looking Through started as a fiction film: the story of a Native American woman who comes to Iran to see the land of her beloved, Bijan. She travels on her own, as Bijan will be conscripted for two years if he returns to Iran. While in Iran, taking the same route that Bijan took fifteen years earlier, she collects images for her lover back in the US.
In 1998, a Japanese producer took an interest in the idea, which was later adapted and written through the eyes of a Japanese-American woman, but for some reason we couldn’t make that scenario, and the film became what it is now, a kind of documentary with a fictional ending . . .
Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1959. After running a photography studio (1980-82), Petgar started working in the film industry with Amir Naderi, on The Runner (1986) and Water, Wind, Dust (1989) as still photographer, assistant director, and assistant editor. After working on The Key (1987, dir. Ebrahim Forouzesh), he migrated to Australia and from 1988 to 1990 worked in the Australian film industry in various positions, until he made his first experimental short, Reverse Angle, in 1991. In 1994, he returned to Iran to make a documentary on Iranian cinema for SBS-TV in Australia and the Farabi Cinema Foundation in Iran. For various reasons, that project was never completed, and Petgar instead made Cinema Cinema (1996), about Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Salaam Cinema, and started production on Film Lovers, released in 2002. He has lived and worked in Iran since 1997 and is in the middle of a plan to shoot three feature-length films in Iran. The first of these, Looking Through, was recently completed. He has established his own production houses in Australia (Reverse Angle Productions, 1996–2002) and Iran (Unexposed Films, since 2004).