“A phone call from home shatters Leila’s normal world right at the outset and throws her into a situation in which she has to make choices that will define how strong she is. Leila is a young drama teacher who has been keeping a secret from her family in the Middle East. Amid the outbreak of the pandemic in Montreal, she finds herself in a predicament when her father falls ill with COVID-19 and she is called back home.” Director Farhad Pakdel on EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT which screens at SxSW 2022.
Welcome to SxSW and congratulations! Is this your first SxSW experience?
Yes! SXSW is a unique festival as it is not just about films or music or technology; it is a celebration of culture as a whole. I am excited to be part of it.
Tell me about the idea behind the short and getting it made!
In the early days of the pandemic, I was isolated in my home, thinking about a new script. I knew that my next project could not be unaffected by what the world was going through. At the same time, I did not want to write a pandemic story in the literal sense. My intention was to write a story that could take place in any similar situation, but I was also convinced to keep the pandemic context because it was the reality of the time it was being written. I think one of the main functions of the movies, or the purpose of making them, is to register what the world is like and who we are in any given time. EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT was written in the early days of the pandemic in 2020, shot exactly one year later in 2021, and I am happy that it is screening exactly one year later in 2022. It has been quite a two-year journey from idea to screen.
Who are some of your creative inspirations? Any particular filmmaking talent or movie that inspired you for this project?
There were many inspirations for sure. I am very aware of the intertextual relations of my films and I deal with them consciously. For example, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC was on my mind when I was visualizing the character during the writing process. I am also very passionate about visual arts and architecture and I get inspirations from those fields too. That being said, my main source of inspiration is life itself, the world and people around me, and an imagined world that could exist in the past or future. When the brainstorming and drafting are over, I am always mindful that I should keep to the raw material: the world as is.
How did you put this together from a technical viewpoint? What sort of cameras/lenses did you use and/or did you have any creative challenges in making it?
We shot 8K on RED camera. The most important visual decision was to shoot almost the entire film in close shots. For the most part, the camera stays on Leila and we are with her throughout the film. This technique allowed me to emotionally converge the character with the audience since the effect of the film is closely related to the extent to which the audience experience what Leila is experiencing. I wanted the viewer to not only read character’s face but her thoughts. To intensify this effect, I used 4:3 aspect ratio that creates a sense of entanglement hence predicament as the story suggests. The choice of shot size also allowed me to conceal Leila’s secret from the viewer like she has kept it from her family.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone to get their start as a creator or filmmaker in the industry, what would you suggest?
Find your own voice. The diversity of voices is what makes the world a desirable place. As I mentioned, we get many inspirations from the art works and texts that we observe and read, but when it comes to creating, it is time to add and/or change and not to repeat. We can create a unique work only by maintaining our unique voice and that is how we can make a difference: by being different and embracing it.
And finally, what is your favourite short film of all time?
It is difficult, if not impossible, to choose one. So, I would answer the question differently. In line with my film’s narrative approach, I would say that my favorite short film of all time is the one that is unknown to me. I am thinking of a team of passionate artists in the past watching the first cut of their film without knowing that they were in the making of someone’s favorite in the future. That unknown film is the reason I make films. I am looking for it.
This film and many others like it will be showing at South By Southwest taking place March 11-20. For more information point your browser to www.sxsw.com!