Hassan Nazer is almost finished with the post-production of Utopia and wishes to submit it to the Berlinale film festival. He also shares some interesting facts about the shooting of the film.
Filmmaker Hassan Nazer is currently in the studio wrapping up post-production on his upcoming feature-length film “Utopia,” a possible candidate for the Berlinale. “Hopefully it will be ready within a month,” he commented, “we’re planning to submit it to the Berlinale.”
I phoned to get a sense of progress for this third film and the second one for which he’s cast Homayoun Ershadi. In speaking about his lead actor he said, “I’m quite close to Homayoun myself.” The two have worked together on Nazer’s previous movie, “Here … Iran” (2014). “Whenever I make a new movie I always think of a part for Homayoun,” Nazer told me.
“Utopia” is a triptych of a film, three individual stories whose common link we find out about towards the end of the film. In each of the three tales characters are confronted by a fate they do not want and set about reversing their so-called destiny.
The film was shot in Tajikistan, Afghanistan (Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif), India and the U.K., in a total forty-two shooting days. Nazer explained that the shooting was harrowingly difficult at times, especially during the Afghanistan-based shoots on location, like markets, where women were not allowed. Nazer had to hire body guards to protect crew and cast during the filming. Fortunately, however, Nazer’s connections inside the Afghani government helped to ensure their safety. Another issue was a cultural nature: passers-by in Mazar-i-Sharif who happened to be in the shot protested against filmed, viewing the act with suspicion.
As long as the film gains traction on the festival circuit, with a known Iranian-star like Ershadi (he recently appeared in Anton Corbijn’s “A very wanted man”) “Utopia” has a shot at some kind of limited release in English-speaking markets (Nazer told me the film would be about 100 minutes-long). There are three different languages spoken in this film, Azari, Tajik and Hindi.
Additional cast includes: Hannah Spearritt, Andrew Shaver and Bhasker Patel.