You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin: Iranian Director Mani Haghighi Talks Buzzy Black Comedy ‘Pig’

Iranian director and actor Mani Haghighi is a Berlinale aficionado. His gender-bender “A Dragon Arrives!” made a splash when it launched from the fest’s competition section in 2016. Now he’s back in competition with black comedy “Pig,” in which a serial killer is decapitating famous Iranian directors and blacklisted filmmaker Hasan is upset that he isn’t considered important enough to be one of them. Haghighi spoke to Variety about this timely pic.

There are several blacklisted directors in your country, most notably Jafar Panahi. Would you say “Pig” reflects the current creative climate for film directors in Tehran?

The main thing I want to make clear is that “Pig” is a comedy; it’s a parody of the situation. It’s never the case with this film that anything directly signifies or references anything specific in Iran. Everything [in the film] has gone through a filter of humor and irony and parody to get there.

Yes, but it seems somewhat based on reality.

It’s referencing some things, but it’s not referencing a person, or a group of people or anything like that. Of course in Iran it’s not just Jafar [who is blacklisted]. But there isn’t an actual list of directors who are unable to work….It’s not a cut-and-dried situation. The film is referencing the kind of mood that has been dominating the film industry and culture in Iran for a very long time.

There’s a lot of narcissism at play.

Yes, in a sort of perverted and weird way this guy feels like he’s been sidelined or disregarded by the killer….He’s beginning to feel like, ‘Maybe I’m not as important as I thought I was….That’s the kind of narcissism that’s comic and is at the center of the film….As all black comedies must, it takes this sort of dark turn, and then the film becomes a little more serious and complicated.

There’s also Hasan’s relationship with his audience and how that plays out in social media. Is social media affecting Iranian filmmakers similarly to filmmakers in the Western world?

Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are huge in Iran. They are very popular. Even though Facebook and Twitter are technically banned, everybody uses them, including the president. Social media affects the lives of Iranian artists and filmmakers in exactly the same way [as in the West]. Just like what is happening in the U.S. we’ve also seen a sudden mass attack on a specific person, based on nothing other than innuendo and unverifiable claims and things like that – in fact, even more than in the U.S.

You have the great Leila Hatami (“A Separation”) in the cast. Can you talk to me about working with her and also with Hasan Majuni, who plays Hasan?

Leila is a childhood friend. She’s never done a comedy before. Because she’s always been cast in these high-concept serious dramas, Leila’s never had the opportunity to expose the very warm and funny side of her character that I’m privy to. As for Hasan, he’s carrying the entire film. He’s not very well-known outside Iran because he’s primarily a theater actor in Iran, probably the best-respected theater actor in Iran. He was perfect for this role; I actually wrote this film for him.

More Film

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

  • MFFF: 'The Collection' Director Blanchard Readies

    'The Collection' Director Emmanuel Blanchard Readies First Feature

    Paris-born Emmanuel Blanchard studied and then taught history before becoming a documentary filmmaker responsible for films such as “Bombing War,” “Le diable de la République” and “Après la guerre.” He’s currently directing “Notre-Dame de Paris”, a 90-minute animated part-doc, part-fiction film on the building of the world-famous Paris cathedral. Competing at MyFFF, “The Collection” is [...]

  • Dragon Ball Super: Broly

    Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

    Late in “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” the 20th Japanese anime feature in a 35-year-old franchise that also has spawned scads of TV series, trading cards, video games, mangas, and limited-edition collectibles, a supporting character complains, “I don’t understand a single thing you’ve said the whole time.” If you’re among the heretofore uninitiated drawn to this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content