Born in Iran in 1968, Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi works as member of advise committee of Dutch Visual Arts Foundation incentive grants and Artist residency since 2004. She started her studies with Astronomy-physics at university of Tehran and later in the Netherlands at the university of Groningen. Following by a bachelor in painting at Art Academy Minerva, she continued studying Video and Film at Post Academy Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. She has attended on various art exhibitions with her photos and video arts in Holland and USA, and has made two short films which the newest, „My Own 1000 Square Meters” will be shown in this year’s edition of the International Documentary FilmFestival Amsterdam (IDFA).
Shohreh Jandaghian – First of all, I would like to ask you why you made the change from Astronomy – physics to filmmaking?
Atousa Bandeh- To be honest it wasn’t a very conscious decision. I was always found of painting and visual arts but had never considered it as a serious career plan. I guess it was the circumstances that I just rolled into it. And I have to say that I found art a bigger challenge than physics at least as a beginner. In Arts you start with discovering and experimenting and research from the beginning but in science it takes a long time before you get into the level where you could really do some research or experiments. And I find research and discovery something really worth spending your time. But my love for physics (astronomy) is still there and I try to satisfy myself with reading about it and keeping myself updated in the subject.
Shohreh– Would you pitch us briefly what is the story of „My Own 1000 Square Meters” about?
Atousa – It is about An Iranian woman who after seventeen years living in the Netherlands decides to go back to Iran with the dream of buying a piece of ground for herself to call it her home. Her journey to find the right piece of land is simultaneous with the visit of the new Iranian president to UN. Gradually she is confronted with the fact that her dream is not so easy to realise.
Shohreh – The film will be shown soon at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. What led you to make this film?
Atousa- As an immigrant I have always played with the idea of going back to my native country in my head. This longing is sometimes just an emergency exit door to give one the possibility of getting away. Away from ones current personality. The privilege of being an immigrant is that there is always one’s personality in the past who had a different identity and there is always a place in the past which was one’s home. That’s how the Idea of going back to one’s birth country seems like going back in time. And until now “to say something astronomically” we can look back in time(observing the universe from billions of years ago) but a real physical time travel is not possible yet and the idea of going back to the time that I left Iran stays illusive.
Telling a story about this illusion is one of the aspects of this short film.
I have literary reduced this longing for having a homeland to buying one.
And searching for it is a symbolic journey looking for an ideal space where one can call his/her home.
The irony in the story is that the main character is searching for the right piece of property in a desert landscape, which is not an utopian landscape to live in.
This landscape also emphasizes the inconceivability of this journey.
The whole film is an exchange between reality and dream, literary like telling about the dream that the main character had and symbolically like talking on the phone to a person who is never there (talking with oneself).
Another aspect of the film, which is more on the surface, is the influence of the politics on individual lives. I find this relation quite absurd. Here I can also speak of my personal experience. When I look back at my life I see how the global political games have had an enormous influence on my personal life. One’s life takes a completely different course and not always a pleasant one. This change of course happens through decisions made by people whom one personally doesn’t know and doesn’t even share their ideas. The impact of politics on individual life can be extremely destructive and sometimes beyond restoration for example in case of wars. When a country goes to war there is no way for an individual not be affected by its results even though she/he didn’t decide to go to war. This gives the individual the feeling that she/ he is affected by a natural disaster.
By telling this story I tried to show what mostly an individual wants: to live a normal life and also how difficult this basic need of human has become due to the politics of the world.
Shohreh- Is it your own dream to go back to Iran and settle down there?
Atousa- The dream is there and so are many other inconceivable dreams! I have to admit that after living almost half of my life in the Netherlands this country is also became a part of my life.
Shohreh – Do you think to make a film related to the Netherlands where you are living for over 17 years, or do you have the feeling that you need to integrate more?
Atousa – It is just recently that I have decided to make projects related to Iran. Before that, I could say that I wasn’t so busy with the subject. And I don’t believe in getting more integrated. For an artist Integration in a society doesn’t mean much, maybe learning the language.. or learning about the history of a country for better understanding of one’s surroundings . You are stuck to yourself and to your own way of perception. I can only see the world as I have experienced it not as a native Dutch. And lets be thankful for this differences otherwise everybody was making the same art or film.
Shohreh – Are you working on an upcoming film project?
Atousa- I have just finished the script for a long fiction, which takes place in the Netherlands and a small part in Iran. It is about chronic dissatisfaction of human. I have symbolized this dissatisfaction as one of the reasons for immigration or replacement. As the Persian saying goes (the neighbour’s chicken is a goose!). Five characters who are projecting their own personal unhappiness on the country in which they are living: Iran & The Netherlands. They are cut up in a dilemma to make a decision. Ones who want to stay in Holland couldn’t and the ones who want to go back have also a problem so they stuck somewhere in-between. All of them think if they get away they will find happiness. They create a dream for themselves, which is just a dream.
Shohreh – Thank you Atousa for taking part in this interview. I wish you the best of luck with your long feature film.
To learn more about Atousa Bandeh, please check: http://www.atousabandeh.com/