She did what nobody thought possible: a film centering on her own meeting with a woman she had helped send into exile years ago. The award-winning documentary The Queen and I (Drottningen och jag), about Iran’s last queen, Farah Diba, has caused a sensation around the world. But keep in mind Iranian-born Nahid Persson has been described as Sweden’s best documentary film-maker.
Nahid Persson. Photo: Hildegunn Holtet/ http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahid_Persson
Why did you begin making documentaries?
“When I was young in Iran, I was actively involved in political and social matters and in human rights issues. It seemed only natural to continue working with the same topics after I arrived in Sweden in 1984. Because of the language problem, I found it easier to make films than to continue writing as a journalist. But it was a long, hard road. I never dreamed I’d be in a position to make my own documentaries. At first, I just did 10-minute film reports.”
What is your main strength as a documentary film-maker?
“I’m there for the people I’m describing and I love the people I film. The issues I discuss are very close to my heart, otherwise I wouldn’t make films about them. Alright, I may not have loved Farah Diba but I wanted to get her to answer questions, for my own sake as well.”
What are you working on at the moment?
“I’m in Los Angeles for a few months editing a documentary about Iranian women in exile. Then I’m planning to do a feature film on the same theme. It’s such a colorful story that you simply have to make a feature out of it.”
What other projects do you have?
“I’m writing a book about my own life. Hopefully it’ll be out this spring. Then I’ll turn that into a feature film as well.”
What do you like best about Sweden?
“The greenery — I miss that here in L.A.! And the sense of safety. When my 14-year-old daughter, who is with me in the States, was starting school she was just handed a schedule and then she was on her own. In Sweden you look after children in a completely different way.”
Torun Börtz is a Swedish freelance journalist.
The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
Translation: Stephen Croall
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