Award Winning Writer, Director and Actor Maziyar Khatam talks about his short film ‘Baba’ which has been selected to screen at this year’s Sundance Film Festival
Established in 1978, Sundance is one of the world’s most recognisable film festivals. Celebrating 45 years of championing independent cinema, the festival continues to showcase the very best of filmmaking. Returning to the festival, after his film Bump was selected to screen last year, filmmaker and actor Maziyar Khatam presents Baba this year – the second instalment of his offbeat, comedy-drama short film series, a personal homage to his upbringing and Iranian-Canadian heritage. Currently screening at Sundance, Maziyar tells us more about the film winning Best Canadian Short Film at Vancouver International Film Festival, working with the creative team to realise the film and what he’s learned from creating it.
Hi Maziyar, your short film ‘Baba’ has been selected to screen at this year’s Sundance Festival. How are you feeling ahead of the event?
It’s great! Last year I had a short film Bump in the 2022 Sundance lineup. It’s crazy to be back, especially in person. It’s been amazing to connect with other filmmakers.
Baba is the second instalment of your offbeat, comedy-drama short film series. The film is a personal homage to your upbringing and uses real-life people cast from Toronto. What inspired you to create a series zoning in on this further?
The central character is based on my dad and my own personal experiences. I wasn’t even thinking about shooting Baba. I wrote it as a therapeutic experience, when I showed the script to Anya and Meran they really gave me the push to bring the story to life.
I always wanted to make a film that showcased Iranian culture, but from a Torontonian lens. Thematically, I feel all my work has characters chasing a false sense of masculinity. This is something that I will be exploring more prominently in my feature script.
The film is the winner of the Best Canadian Short Film at Vancouver International Film Festival. How does it feel for the film to have been acknowledged in this way?
It’s amazing! The award aside, I was happy to be apart of VIFF. Anya and I had a film at Vancouver called Flower Boy in 2021 and loved the reception it got.
You’ve written the film as well as starred in it. It’s been directed by Anya Chirkova and Meran Ismailsoy and also stars James Choy, Sina Djamshidiat and Amir Zavosh. How have you all worked together to realize the film?
Much like a play, we all worked incredibly close during our 3 month rehearsals, constantly reworking the script and making it feel more authentic.
What have you learned/taken away from creating the film?
Find actors who have a deep understanding of the material and collaborate with people that are smarter than you. Don’t be afraid to get feedback on your work.
What can audiences expect from the film?
It’s a rollercoaster of anxiety, dark comedy, and emotion, packed in 13 minute punch. . . . . Or should I say slap?
What would you like for audiences to take away from the film?
I would hope they can connect and relate to the film on an emotional level.
To find out more about Baba, visit here…
To find out more about this year’s Sundance Film Festival, visit here…
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