“Khook – Pig” Challenges Images of Iran at Berlin Film Festival

By Riham Alkousaa

BERLIN, Feb 21 (Reuters) – A comedy depicting a movie director being protected by his family from a serial killer challenges stereotypes about Iran and Iranian women at the Berlin Film Festival, the director said on Wednesday.

Director, screenwriter and producer Mani Haghighi with actors Leili Rashidi, Ali Mosaffa and Leila Hatami pose during a photocall to promote the movie Khook (Pig) at the 68th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

“There are strong women in Iran and I chose to show them as opposed to conforming to this usual image that represents to you Iranian women as victims,” Iranian director Mani Haghighi said at a news conference after a screening of “Khook – Pig”.

In the film, Hasan Kasmai, a filmmaker, starts to panic after being blacklisted and losing the actress he made a star who now wants to make a film with a rival director.

He is further eaten up with jealousy when a serial killer targeting famous filmmakers in Tehran ignores him.

He asks his mother when he will be killed and she assures him that the killer has spared the best for last – only for him to be then falsely named as the killer on social media.

He only has his mother, wife and daughter to protect him from being beheaded and from the online trolling.

“Khook – Pig” follows on the heels of “Taxi”, by banned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, which won the Berlinale’s Golden Bear for best film for its depiction of a cabbie driving people around Tehran in a condemnation of censorship.

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi is pictured, following his release on bail, at his home in Tehran, May 25, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

Film directors in Iran face censorship, and even jail, if they overstep accepted norms on subjects such as sex and politics.

However, Haghighi, who plans to showing his film in Iran, said he was tired of journalists’ constant questions about his political views and censorship in Iran.

“How many times do we need to hear this? Yes, there is censorship in Iran. Yes, it’s difficult to live with it and yes we are dealing with it. But there is so much more to discuss,” he said.

“Khook – Pig” is one of 19 films competing for the Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear, to be awarded on Feb. 24.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Alison Williams)