The Transfer Experience Meeting of “Darius Khondji”, the Iranian origin cinematographer of the leading works of world cinema, was held in the “2037” section of in the 37th edition of the Tehran International Short Film Festival (TISFF) which inaugurated in Tehran on Jan 20, 2021.
Khondji was the Director of Photography of numerous films made by Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Bernardo Bertolucci, Roman Polański, Wong Kar-wai, Michael Haneke Haneke, Sydney Pollack and Chris Cunningham.
He added, “In the face of the director, I try to be more of a listener and I will do everything I can for Iranian cinema.”
Khondji said, “If you feel you have your personal style and you want the audience of the film to know you with your unique feature; it’s a very good thing. I did not want to be known with a certain style. I have worked with prominent directors, and Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski have been my favorite directors since I was a teenager. These two filmmakers also experienced a lot of changes in their films, and the genre did not make much sense in their works”.
He added, “I have made films that differ in many features, from ‘Seven’ to ‘Uncut Diamonds’, but when I want to work with a director; I do not take a suitcase of my experiences with me on stage.”
“If I decide to shoot a film, I read the script over and over again, but I prefer to hear the story from the director and hear his opinion about the story. First, I talk to the director so that he can define his story; I pay attention to the keywords, elements and important elements of the story. To form the main idea of the script; we have to listen well, ideas are instinctively formed in me.”
Referring to his experience working with directors such as Woody Allen and David Fincher, he added that: “It’s been a long time since these films, the story in ‘Seven’ was very dark and Fincher was in a dark situation at the time. They were from their lives. When I read the script; I felt the story was very dark and scary, and when I talked to Fincher, he said it was a serious film that is not easy to tell in filming, and it is very real like life.”
He added, “Fincher, despite being sensitive to issues such as light and image; But he left my hand open for filming. This movie was my first experience in American cinema and I was very excited. I tried to create a genuine black in a kind of color and the elements that are in this black; I mean, Fincher was looking for the same thing at the same time.”
“I was making an advertising teaser when Fincher offered me to make an ad, and finally we traveled on this dark journey, we did a lot of tests, we tested a lot of darkness. This darkness in the film itself becomes a character and is a kind of narrator of the darkness of the soul,” he noted.
Khanji added, “Immediately after David Fincher’s ‘Seven’, I filmed the beautifully different ‘Abducted’ by Bernardo Bertolucci, and it was as if my muscles were expanding. I could not take any baggage of experience with me; because there were no similarities between the two films. Shortly afterwards, I appeared in a film by Michael Hanke, which was also a different work. “
“This sense of change and gaining new experiences, which happened one after the other, was very attractive to me, in such a situation you do not have much experience and a constant sense to rely on, and this is very exciting,” he said.
He also said, “One of my professors, Robert Bresson, had a great impact on my filmmaking process. A cameraman is made up of many parts and emotions, and experiences like this shape a cameraman’s point of view.”
He added, “When I returned to France from the United States, Edward Hopper was not very popular and it took him a while to get to know him. When I met Hopper, I felt discovered, when you look at the works of artists who exist before you; It is a very interesting event. Hopper is the crossroads of painting and photography.
Immediately after these experiences, I started making my own films at a very young age, which were direct adaptations of the paintings I saw at the time.
“At the moment, I like the works of Francisco Goya very much in classical painters. Once upon a time in Berlin, I spent all my weekends in museums exploring photography and painting, curiosity is very important to filmmakers,” he continued.
Khondji also said, “I have a special interest in music and this interest has been formed in me for 15 years, there is a deep connection between music and film. I listen to Mozart many times when I need inspiration. A filmmaker and cinematographer, the more curious he is and the more inputs he has, the more successful he will be. Not being curious enough is a sin for me in my personal and professional life.”
“Choosing a lens is one of the most important choices that depend on the design of the film and its space,” the cameraman said.
“The most important thing for me; It is the point of view that the lens is supposed to show, many times the point of view may be static, I think choosing a lens is the most important choice for shooting a movie. The choice of lens depends on the narrative; I used an anamorphic lens in a film by Nicole Kidman.”
“The main choice of lens is from the story, I like the movement of the camera with the actor while filming. In a movie, I believed that the camera should move with the actor, but the director convinced me that the camera should move after him, and I realized that his argument was correct.
Presided by Sadeq Mousavi, the event which is currently underway in physical and online formats in Iran Mall cinema hall will be wrapped up on Jan 24.
In this year edition, over 4,986 foreign and 1,700 Iranian short films were submitted to different sections of the festival.
In the meantime, 146 Iranian films are competing in the national sections of the event which include feature, documentary, experimental and animation.