Houman Seyyedi talks to CWB about his work as filmmaker and actor


I knew Houman Seyyedi as a very talented actor until I learned about him as a film director and then came the big suprise. After watching the four movies that has been released from Houman as a filmmaker, I was amazed by the freshness of his approach to filmmaking and new ideas and his great use of language of cinema in telling his stories.

Cinema Without Borders: Do you see the images of your film, before you write your screenplay?
Houman Seyyedi: Sometimes people may think that loving some images inspires me to make a movie but this really doesn’t happen maybe the reason for this thinking is that images in their nature are more powerful than words, I am not completely agreeing with this kind of thinking, images are quite specific, but words leave a room for imagination and the readers finds the opportunity to make their own version it. Then I write the stories for the feeling I think about their practicality. Except for my last film that Brock the rules I usually follow, if while making a film I had encountered a moment or sequence that doesn’t have a visual language, I would have changed it. I believe story, screenplay, and images, they have each their own value. Images should do their own parts, sequences should be meaningful and walk a little bit ahead of the screenplay otherwise we will be dealing with a radio/Cinema!

CWB: Do you think your films belong to Film Noir genre?
HS : yes I have been told that some of my films are Film Noir, it has been mentioned about Africa but you know film noire genre has no existence without its own elements, or at least that is how I think. Lenny crime dramas are called film noir, but if you start to take away the black-and-white atmosphere of the classic film noir and it’s other main elements then you may be left with what you can call it modern film noir it is trying to get closer to the society’s matters . Therefore I am not insisting that I am film noir genre filmmaker or my films are film noir or on the other hand rejecting the notions that my films are in that genre by others. The reason is that I don’t say let’s make film noir, genres are not attracting me to make a film, but it is concept, story and the concerns that I have about an issue.

CWB: As a film director you work with certain actors like Navid Mozafarzadeh in most of your films, any specific reason for it?
HS: In working with actors it is important to me is that they are clever and have good understanding, I don’t mean we have just a few actors with good understanding talent, or because I always just work with the same actors, the rest do not have this talent. Usually I know foe whom I am writing a part and we work together to develop that part. I don’t think the method of first writing a script and then looking for actors for it by giving the script to them to read it and respond does not work well. At least until know I have written my parts for certain actors and I always inform them about the development process.

CWB: A few weeks ago I wrote a note about your brilliant performance as an actor and how masterfully you portrait outlaw and rebel characters  and I  mentioned that there is something in the way you deal with the characters you play that reminds me of James Dean. Specially with your amazing and successful part in “Asheghane” series. Please tell us about your acting method.
HS: It’s really kind of you. I have been lucky that after seventeen years of work as an actor, I have been recognized for the character I play in Asheghane series.

I run a acting workshop, but more than teaching my students I always remind myself about the essence of acting, acting for me is being like a diamond that over the years and by being polished becomes more valuable. If you call me a “cinematic actor” it could be due to my understanding of filmmaking, editing, stage design, custom design, make up, that God has helped me to achieve experience in them. My success may be due to the fact that I try to be useful and prepared and less uncertain like some others. I almost know what I am doing and after reading the script I know if I fit there and if I accept a part I dedicate all of me to it and all through the process just concentrate on my part. You are too kind to compare me with the legendary James Dean and I consider more coming from your sense of humor than you may mean it as James Dean for me is among the best actors of all times and it’s a pity that he left this world so soon.

CWB: Are you thinking about working as an actor of filmmaker outside Iran and how do you see the status of Iranian Cinema in the world scene?
HS: My goal is that I want my films to be seen and while keeps its values it finds more audience and have a global success, I believe everyone likes this. But when I make a film, I don’t think about making my film for a specific festival or for an expanded screening in the world cinema. I just try to make my films the way I think they should be made. After making a film I accept whatever the consequence is. I believe the only filmmaker that does not make a bad movie, is the one that makes no movies! This kind of approach makes filmmaking easier for me and let’s me dare once in a year or every other year to go behind the camera and make the movie I like. I pray not for myself but for the success of Iranian Cinema that through great achievements  of Mr. Asghar Farhadi, has opened more doors for Iranian filmmakers. And of course the presence of the Golshifteh Frahani, Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh  Alidoosti, Leila Hatami and  Ali Mosafa in the international scene life has been made a lot easier for us now and Iranian films are taken more seriously now. Let’s not forget that filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami had taken the first steps in this rout. I wish more success for Iranian cinema in the future.

  • After getting a high school diploma in Graphic Design, Houman Seyyedi attended some courses at Iranian Youth Cinema Society of Rasht in northern part of Iran and then directed several short movies.He made his movie debut with ‘A Piece of Bread’ (2004), directed by Kamal Tabrizi.His directing of short movies, including ’35 Meters Below Sea Level’ and ‘Blue Tooth’, earned him several awards at Tehran International Short Film Festival. He also directed his first long movie ‘Africa’ in 2010. Seyyedi, who was the writer as well as editor of ‘Africa’, managed to receive an award for Best Movie in video works section of the 29 Fajr International Film Festival.He has participated in several movies, including ‘Fireworks Wednesday’ (2005), ‘Barefoot in Heaven’ (2005), ‘He Who Goes to Sea’ (2006), ‘The Wound on Eve’s Shoulder’ (2007), ‘The Freeway’ (2010), ‘Thirteen’ (2012), ‘The Exclusive Line’ (2013), ‘Confessions of My Dangerous Mind’ (2014), ‘Buffalo’ (2014), ‘I am Diego Maradona’ (2014), ‘Sleep Bridge’ (2015) and ‘Profiles’ (2015).Seyyedi has also taken part in various TV series such as ‘Never-ending Road’ (2006), ‘The 30th Day’ (2011), ‘Up to the Sky/ Ta Soraya’ (2011) and ‘Love Town/Mehrabad’ (2012) and la

About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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