Written by Edward Loupe

Iranian filmmaker Anahita Ghazvinizadeh brought her debut feature film, They, to the Athens International Film and Video Festival this week. The film features the story of a young transexual ‘J’, who uses the pronoun ‘they’, and their family as they all prepare for J’s sexual reassignment surgery. It is an intimate portrait of the group, examining their daily lives and relationships without great fanfare.

“I was doing all these artist residencies and feeling out of space, and I realized that maybe that could help me relate to the situation of young people who are in transition,” says Ghazvinizadeh. She was inspired by the work of her mentor, legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who encouraged her to pursue her own unique voice. She remembers, “there was a cliché at Kiarostami’s workshop - every student who goes there ends up making a ‘road movie’. And I did too! But when Kiarostami saw my film he said everything in it that looked like his films was bad, and instead to follow the little things in it that came from me. That was how I arrived at They.

Ghazvinizadeh attended the film festival not only to show her film, but act as an official AIFVF juror. Along with fellow artists Laura Craning and Joseph Keckler, Ghazvinizadeh will discuss, debate, and decide on the best work at the festival.

“I am inspired by filmmakers who vary tones and styles in their work,” says Ghazvinizadeh, a fact reflected in her own work, which moves between scenes of quiet intimacy and rowdy family dinners, and in AIFVF’s diverse selection.

They premeired as an official selection of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and has screened at the Torino film Festival, Busan International, Woodstock, Chicago International and NewFest. The film was also executive produced by Hollywood veteran Jane Campion.