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March 26, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
Most cannot remember a time when the Middle East was not suffering from a reputation of violence, danger, and political unrest. Yet, history books tend to skip over the fact that there was such a thing as the “Israeli Paradise” in Iran only a handful of decades ago. Dan Shadur’s family experienced the dichotomy of life as Israelis before and after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and the stark contrasts of the way life was and exists today were reason enough to shed light on not only a personal account of family history, but of a bigger, untold story of Israelis in Iran.
“The 60s and 70s were a golden age for foreign expats in Tehran, Israelis included,” Shadur comments. “My parents were there from late 1975 until early 1979, and I spent my first year there before diplomatic relations between Israel and Iran were cut and all Israelis were expelled from Tehran.”
Dan’s mother often reminisced about the family’s glory days and held on to stunning and mysterious photo albums that documented their lives in Iran before the revolution.
However, as Dan got older, he remembers, “The image of Iran for an Israeli growing up in the 80s and 90s became more and more intimidating and alien, and this contrast - between the utopian images and the dark reality - always fascinated me. When I started researching a few years back I realized that the story of the Israelis in Iran contained some aspects very different from the narrative laid down to me.”
Besides the typical trials associated with creating a project, Shadur’s major struggle for his first feature film was larger than finances or creative influences.
“The biggest challenge was striving for the right balance between the personal and political story in the film,” Shadur recalls. “Both contain extremely delicate and explosive components. I dealt with personal materials in my shorts, but none of them were intended to reach such a vast audience, and none had such a strong political aspect.”
After interviews and research conducted to complete “Before the Revolution,” Shadur has received a wide spectrum of opinions on the outlook for life to exist as it was before the revolution between Iran and Israel in his lifetime.
“I have had many encounters with Iranians, especially since the film was released, and most of them filled me with hope regarding the bond between the two people,” he says. “But, on a more strategic level, it's hard to be optimistic about the political climate in the Middle East, Israel and Iran included.”
“Before the Revolution” illustrates the life of an Israeli in a controversial era, but Shadur inspires viewers to look at the bigger picture. “I hope the audience will contemplate on the fragility of life, political hegemonies, the deceiving nature of nostalgia, and our responsibility for atrocities taking place under our nose.”
— Amy Kersey
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