Venice Juror and ‘A Separation’ Star Leila Hatami on Her Role in Director Mehdi Norowzian’s Upcoming ‘A Time in Eternity’

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Iranian actor Leila Hatami, best known outside her country for her role in Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning “A Separation,” will soon be back on international movie screens in Iranian-British director Mehdi Norowzian’s metaphysical drama “A Time in Eternity” which recently wrapped in Iran.

“There isn’t one scene without me,” Hatami told Variety, speaking on the sidelines of the just concluded Venice Film Festival where she was a member of the main jury.

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The London-based Norowzian, who was Oscar-nominated for his 1999 short “Killing Joe” and subsequently directed Joseph Fiennes, Elizabeth Shue, Dennis Hopper and Sam Shepherd in the 2002 drama “Leo,” has since become a prominent commercials director. Norowzian recently returned to Iran to shoot this film, which is his first feature after two decades.

In “Eternity,” Hatami plays Mariam, a woman who’s beloved husband Saeed has mysteriously gone missing, leaving her and her 12-year-old daughter in a state of limbo where they cling on to the hope that he is alive and may one day return.

Mariam’s life is made more complicated due to her husband’s brother (Vaheed) being secretly in love with her and insisting to be present in her life by acting as the head of the family.

“We don’t know whether he [Saeed] has died or has simply left us for some other reason,” Hatami said, adding that Norowzian in the film “leaves this detail out on purpose.”

Her husband’s absence makes Mariam “feel unrooted somehow, without a connection to this world” just as she had to “take care of her teenage daughter.”

“What’s really nice about this film is that we have two parallel worlds,” Hatami noted. “One pertains to what she is experiencing due to the absence of her husband and how this is haunting her. The other is the social life that she is forced to lead and the social aspects of this life tied to customs and traditions in Iran,” she said. Hatami added that the film’s script explores two levels of her experience – “the outer world and the inside of her psyche,” and this “makes it very interesting.”

Co-written by Norowzian, Sepideh Ghorbani and Ali Asghari, “A Time In Eternity” is produced by Mehdi Norowzian and Niki Karimi and co-financed between Joy Films U.K. and Dubai-based Joy Films Middle East.

Pic was shot over 87 days entirely in Iran in locations comprising Tehran, the UNESCO listed island Qeshm in the south of Iran, the ancient Central Iranian desert town of Varzanehh and Mazandaran, the mountainous region of northern Iran, bordering the Caspian Sea.

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