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‘Silent House’ Director Farnaz Jurabchian on Her Fight to Leave Iran to Attend Festival Screenings

Hot Docs marked the first film festival that “Silent House” director Farnaz Jurabchian has been able to attend in-person since the documentary made its world premiere at IDFA in November.

For months Farnaz Jurabchian and her co-director/brother Mohammadreza Jurabchian were banned from leaving Iran, which prevented the duo from attending prestigious fests including IDFA, France’s FIPADOC, Brazil’s It’s All True and the Luxemburg Intl. Film Festival.

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Iranian authorities considered the international partnerships that both directors formed in order to make “Silent House” a national security risk.

“My brother and I weren’t able to leave (Iran) due to false and unfair accusations that were made against us,” Farnaz Jurabchian said. “We lost many opportunities that our film created for us due to the ban.”

According to Farnaz, Iranian authorities “took issue with our artistic and cultural communication with international platforms (and financiers), which is a necessity and the basic right of every documentarian around the world.”

In a recent turn of events, the travel ban against both helmers was lifted, which allowed Farnaz to attend the Hot Docs North American premiere of “Silent House” on May 3.

The docu recounts the lives of three generations of an Iranian upper-middle-class family from the perspective of Farnaz and Mohammadreza. Produced by both directors along with Elaheh Nobakht, Stéphanie Lebrun, Jewel Maranan, and the National Film Board of Canada, “Silent House” is a joint production of Iran, Canada, France, the Philippines and Qatar.

Despite the recent travel ban lift, only Farnaz Jurabchian, who is a citizen of Iran and Canada was able to attend Hot Docs with “Silent House.”

“Mohammadreza’s visa was rejected by Canadians,” Farnaz explained. “A very strange decision on behalf of Canadian authorities. So, once again, we have been deprived of traveling with this film by another government. I hope that one day we live in a world where no government can decide for any filmmaker to travel or not to travel.”

During the film’s Q&A, which Mohammadreza attended via Facetime, Farnaz explained that it took three years to edit 500 hours of footage down to the 100 minutes that make up “Silent House.”

“We were constantly shooting our family over many years, so we had a mountain of footage,” Farnaz said. “We were also amateur filmmakers when we were kids, so we also had a huge amount of archival footage. It was really hard to choose between which footage to use and not to use.”

Following Hot Docs, “Silent House” is slated to screen at DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, and at the 63rd Krakow Intl. Film Festival in Poland.

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