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Het Parool: Interview with director Mani Nickpour

By July 14th, 2023No Comments
Interview with director Mani Nickpour in Dutch Het Parool about his father actor Saeid Nickpour and his movie Ahriman Death Before Dying.

Interview with director Mani Nickpour in the Dutch daily Het Parool. Saeid Nickpour (77) was a renowned movie star in Iran before he fled to the Netherlands. His son Mani Nickpour (40) is now the director of the film Ahriman: Death Before Dying.

Actor Saeid Nickpour:

“My wife and sons fled to the Netherlands first. I arrived three years later. Everyone had changed by then. When I embraced Mani for the first time in the Netherlands, his face was almost at the same height as mine. His head didn’t reach beyond my stomach when he left.

After the Islamic government seized power, the situation became terrible. Mani had problems with his teachers at school. He was even subjected to violence. When I saw that he had been beaten up, I was so angry, I wanted to confront his teacher. But I couldn’t hit a woman.

The situation was unbearable. My wife Mehry fled with the children. In Iran, I was a well-known actor and director, but I wasn’t given permission to leave. To flee from Iran to the Netherlands with two young children, you have to be a little crazy. My wife was, and she saved our lives.

In Limburg, I had the opportunity to make a film with students. The process was so primitive, I had to do everything myself, from the set to the makeup. In Iran, I was used to working with a large crew. After that, I had no work. I became more depressed and felt small. I went back to Iran, and immediately got a role and felt like myself again. During those years, I traveled back and forth.

In Iran, Mani had a small role in one of my films when he was seven. In the Netherlands, Mani directed his own feature film Ahriman: Death Before Dying, and I have a role in it. I liked the story, so I said yes. But I’m used to a story being historically accurate. Mani sometimes deviates from reality. He wrote a fantasy story that jumps through time. I can’t stand that. If the director wasn’t my son, I would have definitely argued with him.

The film Ahriman is also poetic, and I find that beautiful. Through poetry, you understand the story. Now that his film is finished, I want the whole world to see it. Mani resembles his mother in appearance, but in every other way, he resembles me. We have a sense of humor and like to tease each other. I would love to go back to Tehran, but the situation there is so unsettled that I’m staying here. I feel safe and free in the Netherlands.”

Director Mani Nickpour:

“Saeid is called the Sean Connery of Iran. He has appeared in countless films and TV series and is a well-known movie star in Iran. When he came to the Netherlands, he also wanted to act here, but it didn’t work out. In hindsight, he should have gone straight to Amsterdam; he might have found more connections there.

In Iran, I was abused by teachers. In Groningen, where my mother, brother, and I were first accommodated, I attended a Dutch school, and it was good. Later, I went to school with only asylum seekers. No one spoke Dutch, except for the teacher. The students had their own asylum center language with lots of English and gestures.

When Saeid came to the Netherlands, It took me some time to get used to having a father again. He had difficulty finding work, and that was tough. He’s a workaholic: work comes first, then his sons, and then his wife. He was able to work in Iran again and traveled back and forth.

During COVID, he couldn’t travel to Iran, and now the situation is so unsettled that he still can’t. He has been waiting all these years for a political upheaval that never comes. I think my parents always thought they were here temporarily and would eventually be able to return to their own country.

I wanted to become an actor, but I only got stereotypical roles. So, I decided to make my own films, but that was complicated too. In the end, I became a cameraman and editor and worked extremely hard. I saved every penny I had for my own film. Saeid has always encouraged me. After seven years, Ahriman: Death Before Dying is finally finished, and now it’s making the rounds at film festivals.

Saeid also has a role in it. During filming, I called him Nickie; as a director, I need to be able to say things to him that I can’t say to my father. Often, he would give me advice and tell me what I wasn’t doing right.

I resemble him a lot. Saeid makes jokes in the worst situations. I hope I also resemble my mother. When my mother wants to achieve something, she gives it her all. How else can you flee with two young children? She took so many risks. I hope I also have some of her fire.”

Trailer Ahriman Death Before Dying:

Source: Het Parool

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