What is this film about?
We all know about refugee crisis, we also know about conflicted-zones in the middle-east and the never-ending wars that rage in every corner. Yet, how much do we know about refugee artists living in conflicted countries? What is the price a rock music band would pay in order to simply perform a concert, in Afghanistan?
The Forbidden Strings is a documentary that follows four young Afghan refugees born and raised in Iran. Their parents fled to Iran during the war between Afghanistan and USSR in early 80s, together with 1.5 million others. Like most Afghan refugees in Iran, our protagonists are also labourers. They work hard to make a living and support their families during the day. But as the night falls, they get together in a remote studio out of Tehran, away from the eyes of their families and the police, in order to practice what they dream to be: rock stars.
Hakim, Akbar, Mohammad and Soori have a big difference with others in their community. Despite the limits of their status as refugees, they've dared to dream. The dream of the Arikain band is to perform their first concert in a father-land they've never seen: Afghanistan. But is the road to the festival safe enough for this dream to come true?
This documentary film follows the Arikain band shoulder to shoulder, from the days they simply dream of a journey to their war-torn fatherland, to the hectic and dangerous roads taking them to the music festival through Taliban forces.
Who are the rock stars of Arikain band?
The Arikain band
7 years ago, Hakim used to play classic guitar and was very popular among the boys of his neighborhood. Akbar - one of his fans - started learning guitar from him and they became closer. After months of practice, they both realized that they love rock and electronic music more. They started working harder in carpentry and tailoring to save up for music classes and buying instruments and drums.
Later, Mohamad, another young and enthusiast guitar player, asked them to let him join their team. He impressed them by showing a VHS video of Metallica band that he had borrowed from the only film club of their town. The trio was soon formed and later on, when they performed their first concert in Tehran university for other Afghan refugee students, Soori was also among them as their female vocalist. Soori comes from an open Afghan family and is very supported by her parents - unlike the boys who have to hide their music instruments from their parents because they believe music takes the blessing away.
Their most famous song is "Wake Up!" written and composed by Hakim, It's an anti-taliban song that invites Afghans to stand up against extremism and violence. So far the Arikain has recorded around 10 music tracks with having war, immigration and exile as central themes.
The drummer, Akbar
Who's the man behind the camera?
Hasan was also born in Iran from Afghan parents In 1985. He has also worked hard during the day and studied long sleepless nights for his dream of becoming a filmmaker.
Hasan Noori | Director of the film
"After years of living as an immigrant, I’ve learnt to divide my people into two groups: those who follow their dreams and those who bury them. As an Afghan immigrant, if you are among the first group, it means you believe in miracles. The Arikains believed in miracles, and that's why we started this film together."
Hasan has a BA in sociology and a Master degree in Cinema from University of Tehran. As a filmmaker, he's also very active in helping NGO's that fight racism and child labour in Iran.
"It's not easy to talk to the broken body of an immigrant labourer about dreams. This is why I decided to use art in order to send my message to the immigrant community: Dare to dream! and that's how we change our lives. Societies do not change through arms, tanks and soldiers but they do change through art and culture. And today, that's what my fatherland Afghanistan needs more than ever"
Why your help matters?
The Forbidden Strings is Hasan’s first feature film yet he directed a professional Iranian crew who joined him during this journey full of unknowns -- no matter how little the budget was or how dangerous the shooting. So far, the film has benefited from good international support outside Iran. IDFA Bertha Fund financed part of the development of the project and The Forbidden Strings also got selected for IDFA Summer School in Amsterdam. Hasan took his project to this summer school and had the chance to work with the acclaimed editor Jesper Osmund who was the mentor of the project, giving us many important advices for the rest of the road.
Apart from IDFA Bertha Fund, we had the opportunity to benefit from the generous contribution of our Afghan investor who knows the filmmaker well and trusted our project since the beginning. Our generous private investor is also from Afghan refugee parents living in Iran.
This film is the first production of Docmaniacs Collective in Tehran. The collective is the trio of three Iranian documentary artists, Afsaneh Salari, Sepand Saedi and Hoda Siahtiri. Afsaneh is the main producer of The Forbidden Strings and Hoda and Sepand help out in any way as production associates. You can find more info about the collective and our other films here: https://www.facebook.com/docmaniacs/
Here we are!
Our shooting is finished and we're about to start our post-production in Iran. Editing, sound design and mixing and color correcting they are costly steps of post-production that require fundings for the artists who work on the project but also the studio they rent. After post-production, we will have to prepare our promotional materials for the distribution of the film including poster design, flyers, DVD cover and online marketing. In order to send out our film to festivals, we also need to consider screening fees.
Meanwhile, our project is selected to pitch in Docs In Progress in Karlo Vyvari Festival in Prague in July! Hasan and Hoda will pitch the project there and we look forward to meet potential distributors there.
Details about the event: http://www.kviff.com/en/film-professionals/book-of-projects/docs-in-progress/2018
Your help would be a big push forward for The Forbidden Strings to be finished and be seen on the big screen. It will be an important contribution to the creation of a film that is motivated to be an inspiration to the immigrant community and also us all.