Busan: Oscar Winner Asghar Farhadi Urges Aspiring Filmmakers to Tap Into Emotions

Fabrizio Maltese
Asghar Farhadi

This year's head of the New Currents competition section says sentimental experiences are the lifeblood of cinema

Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi believes that emotional experiences are the best source of inspiration for cinema, and hopes the emerging directors would take his advice into consideration.

"We have an emotional bank inside of us, and that is very important. When you're thinking and writing a film, you go inside yourself and take from those experiences to use for your film," said the Iranian director, who is head of the jury of New Currents, the Busan International Film Festival's signature competition section for up-and-coming Asian filmmakers.

As for his own movies, such as the Oscar-winning A Separation and the Golden Globe-nominated The Past, he finds endless inspiration in family matters.

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"All of my movies are about families, but in the end they're about relationships between people… All the people in the world have a common experience in the family. It's a [universal] subject for humans from the beginning of time. It's the oldest subject, but [at the same time] it is new every second," he said.

But while collected memories may give way to inspired filmmaking, however, he prefers to have a blank slate when watching films.

"I think the best way [to watch movies] is watching them without any information. I don't read anything about [the film I'm about to watch]," he said, and will judge the New Currents films in such fashion. This year's selection features 12 films from 12 different countries, including more obscure film industries such as Lebanon and Bangladesh.

Dina Iordanova, a film professor from the U.K. and a jury member, said she was excited to watch the new Asian films. "The most important cinema today comes from Asia… There are more and more films that are not influenced by the paradigm of Western traditions," she said. "Busan is doing well in showing cinema from smaller countries."

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Farhadi cautioned festival-goers to be careful when watching foreign films, however.

"Festivals have two sides," he said, explaining that while festivals offer the valuable opportunity to watch films from around the world and enable learn about different cultures and societies, it can be "a little dangerous because when you know a country only through the media or cinema, you are watching it from only one angle."

Other members of the New Currents jury include esteemed South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho, award-winning Indian actress-filmmaker Suhasini Maniratnam and distinguished French philosopher Jacques Ranciere.

The 19th edition of BIFF continues through Oct. 11, showing 312 films from 79 countries.

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