How Brave is Iranian Director Emir Hasanpor? The Dominant

Religion, Rape, Political Prisoners and Execution are the subject of The Dominant, a short film by Iranian Director & independent film maker Emir Hasanpor. The film has placed Hasanpor’s life under threat. So what is the film about?

“The film is about rape and torture of women in the prison and regular execution of the prisoner in Iran” says the melancholy director. “I could easily choose another subject without any risk but when you see torture everyday and tears on eyes can you create anything but cinema about inhumanity?” asks Hasanpor. “At least the   film was shown in various public places and increased women’s abhorrence against patriarchy and the ruling regime” says Hasanpor with a sense of satisfaction.

The Dominant, a short film shows prisoners being executed with the image of the noose repeatedly uttering ‘be strong Comrades, be strong’ in the background. Next we see three pictures on a box: the insufferable pain of the prisoners with a coarse and loud music and the image of mass murder. We see a combination of two frames showing dogs and humans engaging in sexual act. “When humanity gives its meaning away we cannot prevent the animalistic instincts in us. Inhumanity is a condition governs Iran and forced sex is approved for men to enjoy” says Hasanpor.

The shocking analogy combines with heavy metal and religious music of Iran as a symbol of Shiite Muslims mourning for the death of the religious figure Imam Hossain . The Shiite Muslims blame the Sunni Muslim for murdering the Prophet’s grandson and the dispute between the two sectors are everlasting and torturous for the ordinary. “I used heavy metal and religious music together to state the migration from religious myths to execution” says the dismayed director. “The harsh heavy metal music signifies the rape and torture and mass murder” says the angst-ridden director. The film closes with the image of the execution platform and closed prison door pleading Comrades to be strong.

“The film is in refuge of human dignity. I created it because I have experienced it. In Islamic republic mass people of the society are victims and execution has penetrated the society and in fact women receive the greatest brunt from the government” states Hasanpor.

Emir Hasanpor was born in the Kurdish Iranian city Mahabad and formed a love for the cinema from an early age. Hasanpor spent most of his time in Tehran, the capital city of Iran roaming in the theatre and art sector. “Cinema was a pleasure for me but growing up watching self immolation of women and vividly experiencing suicide as her only option from the penal institution of Islamic Republic of Iran, I started to become involved in politics. I started to create street theatre to bring awareness in public for which I have gone to prison. The sheer loathe at the oppressive regime stopped making cinema as an isolated entertainment venue in fact I started to see cinema as a collage of information. I see cinema style as a reflection of the reality surrounding me and I formed a desire to create promising cinema and bring awareness in my people” explains Hasanpor.

Hasanpor was expelled from the University of Payam Noor Mahabad for his leftist views and as a Liberal art Student in the Institute of Young Cinema in Tehran Hasanpor started to create short films to raise awareness and soon started to gain an audience of women and students with an interest in underground films. “The Iranian media creates a constructed reality and its easy to gain success if one complies but I found women in tears after viewing the Dominant as they could relate to the film more than men and that was the whole point of creating it” says Hasanpor with self satisfaction.

“I think cinema should be committed to service people, do you think the captivating images of Tarkovsky only have aesthetic purposes? No; cinema should be muse for strong social and philosophical responsiveness. I love the aesthetic inspirations of Dodard and Pasolini but I have also been inspired by the rebels such as the Bangladeshi feminist and poet Talima Nasrin and the Iranian poet Forough Farokhzad. Doubtlessly the defiant poets’ lives can be topics for cinema. I see directors such as Kovrasava, Ray Ayzenshtain and Gonay are great creators who identified the pain in the society and they depicted those experiences through visual art and to me they are the revolutionaries in the cinema industry. Hence I don’t intend to make films about Iran only but about humanity and my depiction of my experiences are the panorama for all” says ambitious Hasanpor.

“I believe art helps to advance humanity and its revolutionary spirits. Ask yourself what do you feel when you see Guernica or how do you feel when you watch a Salvi film? Art permeates the deepest part of the mind and heart. Art resurrects knowledge and with that human understands its position in the society and social conditions hence I see Art cinema as the reflection of our environment, its pains and desires. In the case of Dominant the internal yarning is a vision of equality, freedom and social democracy” says the sensitive and graceful rebel. “Dominant encourages philosophical mutiny” elucidates Hasanpor.

After screening the Dominant Hasanpor became a target of the Muslim extremist groups and his life is constantly under threat. “I have to work under limited privileges” explains the determined director “I can hardly obtain a camera and necessary equipments and I have to detoxify the problem with arranging many editing sessions. I have to reassure all my co-workers are my friends under a totalitarian regime and it takes immense amount of time for us to finish one film. For example we edited a 5 minutes film over 40 days” says a very exhausted Hasanpor.

“After the Arab attack and Islamisation of Persia 1300 years ago women have been converted into sex slaves in Iran” Hasanpor briefly explains the political situation of Iran. We have the Shia and the Sunni Muslims both are in dispute but with the worst ideology concerning women’s status.” Hasanpor acknowledges “of course whenever religion enters politics and the government the society falls under a dictatorship. Religion overcasts on Iran’s sky like an Octopus and people are controlled like stitch dolls, if anybody speaks something athwart are condemned to execution and so easily done so.” Hasanpor sounds broken  and explains “ in Iran we have the Sepah Pasdaran a form of Juries consult warden controlling all organs of the society and one has to pass the leaders’ censorship hatch to portray reality in cinema and it is almost impossible” the pensive rebel explains.

“Every defiant man loves his life and fights for it. The government is scaring people with execution and torture and if I was timorous of the fear they have created I would have stopped battling long time ago” says Hasanpor with revolutionary spark on his eyes. The radical artist goes on to enlighten “Leftist thoughts are abundant in minds and I believe leftist movement has the greatest potential for freedom and democracy in Iran.” Hasanpor sadly exclaims “My love for the cinema and my political views has always caused friction between me and my family however I do not blame them. They are trapped under a harsh social condition and I struggle for my art on a lonely road”.

Emir Hasanpor determinately ends the interview asserting “I have been tortured in prison and watched my peers on the execution platform. I have been threatened with murder and the Salafi political party of Iran are determined to   destroy an artist’s opportunity to construct reality however I shall keep endeavouring to make cinema for human beings and for the freedom of mankind”

words Shanta Sultana


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