Exiled Iranian director reunites with mom at Kochi film festival


On the run since 2005, Makhmalbaf and his family first sneaked into Afghanistan and were making a film there when a bomb blast on a location killed a crew member and wounded several others, forcing him to leave. They went to Tajikistan next, where they continued with their film-making and even organised a film festival. Paris was the next stop and two years back, they reached London.

"We were like refugees. Even as we faced threats to our lives, the family has together made 10 films during these eight years," said Makhmalbaf. Barring Makhmalbaf, the rest of his family is living in Britain on an asylum visa. "We do not have British passports. Our situation is not secure and we are traveling a lot from one place to another," he said.

After the festival ends on Sunday, Makhmalbaf and his family will return to London and his mother to Iran. But he says he will remind his mother not to lose hope about the future. Makhmalbaf and his family cannot return to Iran as they fear for their lives there. Esmat, a retired nurse who has also acted in seven films including some of her son's, has not been targeted because of her age, he says.

Asked how his mother felt to be separated from him for all these years, Makhmalbaf said hundreds of mothers in Iran had lost their children who fought for freedom of expression and many film-makers were either in jail or in exile. Makhmalbaf was himself jailed for four-and-a-half years until the 1979 revolution.

But despite the bitter experiences, Makhmalbaf said he and his wife missed many things about their country. "I am passionate about Iran. But if I go back now, they will arrest me. We are in exile. We have to deal with the situation," said wife Marziyeh.

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