Iranian director closes in on ‘Man’

Makhmalbaf gets Wild help with latest project

GRANADA — Despite his past struggles, and thanks in part to backers, Mohsen Makhmalbaf (“Kandahar,” “Gabbeh”) continues to make films. The Iranian director is about to begin post-production in India on the Russian-language feature “The Man Who Came From the Snow.”

Shot in Kazakhstan, “Man” is written and directed by Makhmalbaf and his director wife, Marziyeh Meshkini (“Stray Dogs”). The drama turns on the fall of the USSR and the impact on a group of women left alone by their husbands who have departed in search of work, Meshkini told Variety during Spain’s Granada Film Festival Cines del Sur, where Makhmalbaf received a warm retro-tribute.

Paris-based Wild Bunch, which often lends long-term support to directors, is financing this last Makhmalbaf project and has picked up international rights, the Iranian director said.

Wild Bunch support for Makhmalbaf includes co-production with Makhmalbaf Film House of Meshkini’s “Stray Dogs,” Hana Makhmalbaf’s “Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame,” Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “Scream of the Ants” and Samira Makhmalbaf’s “Two Legged Horse.”

Three years now in self-exile, Makhmalbaf has stayed the course. While its whereabouts might not be known, Makhmalbaf Film House continues its remarkable family slate production. And Makhmalbaf has hardly gone underground: He was on the jury of Kiev Fest in late October, and in Granada presented a fest-published essay collection “Mohsen Makhmalbaf: From Discourse to Dialogue,” which has a 10-page contribution from Makhmalbaf himself.

Makhmalbaf’s also just written a screenplay that will be directed by Kyrgyzstan’s Aktan Abdykalykov (“The Chimp”). Set in Kazakhstan, pic, which has a working title of “Autumn and Winter,” will begin shooting, appropriately enough next autumn, Makhmalbaf explained.

Not all Makhmalbaf projects come to fruition. One, about Khomeini’s blind cultural adviser, didn’t receive authorization. The English-language version of the script of “Amnesia” can be read, however, on Makhmalbaf’s webpage.

An old project in Italy, Makhmalbaf said, could be made once Italy changes its government and film authorities.

“I’d be delighted to work in Europe if there’s a project that I consider important and necessary,” he added.

Makhmalbaf has just produced a couple of his daughter Hana’s docu shorts. “The first, ‘Our Dog Is a Mother,’ is about our puppy’s litter and its life. And the second is a documentary about how (Hana’s) sister Samira worked with nonprofessional actors on ‘Horse,’ ” Makhmalbaf told Variety.

“I’ve been offered much higher-budget projects. But you have to choose between selling your soul to the market or to your dreams,” he said.

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