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April 18, 2011

“I will help you kill yourself“

Ardavan Roozbeh / Radio Koocheh
ardavan@koochehmail.com

Translated by Avideh Motmaen-Far

Room number 106 at Georgetown University, Washington DC, on March 23, hosted for the first time in Georgetown, the projection of “I will help you kill yourself “, a film by Kian Amani, an Iranian filmmaker.

The story of four Iranian gays from Iran to Turkey. Wounds of Iranian asylum seekers in Turkey, queer social conditions in Iran and another view of the Iranian community, were perhaps the points that could be seen in his about an-hour film.

The story starts in a café, “Mehrdad” is a homosexual and talks about his situation in Iran. Kian Amani is a journalism and filmmaking graduate and has nearly a dozen years experience in working for different medias.

In his career, he has directed six documentary films. “Nine to Five”, 2001, “Abyaneh”, 2002, “Lala Jean” ,2003, “Pyre shalyar”, 2005 and “Standing in the land” in 2007 and his last film, which was unveiled recently.

At the meeting after the movie, a number of enthusiasts Iranian and foreigners who attended the screening of this film, commented and raised their views:

Why did so few women attend the screening?

Did the movie show the current situation after the election?

Someone in the audience pointed:

My name is Parissa, I am a physician and thirty-year-old. Mr. Kian Amani’s movie is about gay men. He had interviewed four men and the person who has conducted the interviews in Iran was not visible. These people were talking about their problems, tendencies, dreams and daily lives.

This movie was very interesting for me because we have so little information about these people. They have a very secret life and a very interesting point was that all these four cases were referring to the problem that they have lost their families’ support and cannot have any expectations. And the interesting thing that was mentioned by one of these people was that the strong objection that exists against gay men is due to a system of patriarchy that exists in our society.

The reason that they were mentioning was that they never feel any objection against them by the female part of their family. Mothers, sisters and other women accept them and try to help them while men were heavily reacting to them. It was something new that I have not seen before.

But the film “I will help you kill yourself” continues the story till the end and says that the story of their lives continue. It seems to me that Kian does not talk about the issues after the election, and crossed very quickly, perhaps to quote himself, the green movement still has not responded to some questions.

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Another person in the audience about this movie said:

It is a very interesting movie and is the first movie that I see on the subject that is very useful for Iranian society.

“The review and remarks on this film took too long and we did not have the opportunity to hear Kian about his movie. So while eating pizza after the unveiling ceremony I set an appointment with him after a few days in a café.

What comes ahead is the dialogue of Ardavan Roozbeh with Kian Amani about the movie ” I will help you kill yourself. “

Kian Amani’s film was screened a few days ago at Georgetown University, and we set up an appointment to have a chat about this movie.

Please introduce yourself to the audience of Radio Koocheh.

My name is Kian Amani and I am almost thirty years old. This movie is my sixth documentary and it is almost twelve years that I work in the press as a news reporter and photographer. This is my latest film that was screened at Georgetown University, whose name is ”I will help you kill yourself “. It is an one-hour documentary about the life of four Iranian homosexual men.

I’ve seen your movie that deals with the lives of four men, but I am not sure if we have to use the word man about them from their own perspective? But you are talking about four men who are struggling with their own issues. And for you, are your issues the challenges that the rulers or law has imposed to them or socio-cultural issues?

I think all the things that you just said are my problems in this film. Social pressures, which actually that the law puts ahead of homosexuals, religious pressures, family and various other issues. I think that in this movie, all of these issues have been covered.

Could you please explain what the difference is between “Transexual”, “Hermaphrodite” and ”gay” ? Do you think that a gay has physically a problem? Or are we talking about a ”choice” in one’s life?

Homosexuality, not only in my opinion, but also for many people who have accepted that homosexuality is totally natural, is not a disease. Neither a mental illness nor a genetic disease. Science today has come to this conclusion that homosexuality is totally natural but it constitute a lesser percentage of the society. Since 1973, homosexuality is taken out from the list of diseases. Many people argue that homosexuality is not normal and natural. But up to now, in more than fifteen hundred animals homosexuality has been seen. In chimpanzees who are actually our ancestors, in sheep, cows and even reptiles have been seen. The only difference is about majority and minority.

What did create the spark of this film in your mind?

The first time I wanted to do something about this subject, it was about six years ago that I tried as a journalist within a press report but it fell short due to the fact that it was not publishable in Iran and because I had other things in mind, I had to leave this project aside, I do not say that I forgot, until a year and a half ago when I decided to take it more seriously. I began to research and I came to know a few homosexual persons who helped me to be make this movie. The shooting took six months and because of some issues it took a year to be edited.

There is a very short cut maybe only about two minutes about the elections aftermath in your movie. What purpose did you follow exactly?

Many people ask me whether it is a good time to make a movie about gays? And many of people ask the question whether the homosexuals are among the green movement or not. Personally, I think they are part of the green movement. I mean they are member of any democracy seeking movement in Iran. They, like other people, have the same goals most people have, plus what they want. And why the green movement is in this movie is just that I wanted to say if tomorrow this movement wins, let us not to forget the rights of minorities. One of these minorities are sexual minorities.

But my question is that currently in the green movement, however, that claims to be responsible for a major part of the issues and developments after the elections, they have not yet been giving any clear answer about minorities such as sexual minorities until now. Do you want to say that homosexuals as a sexual minority are involved in the current green movement? Or do you want to say that administrators and leaders of this movement must be paying attention to homosexuals?

I want to raise both of these issues. I also said that day at Georgetown that I am very happy that the green movement has not won yet. Because if we give this movement a little thinking opportunity, they have to consider the rights of minorities. Unlike the early days of the ’79 revolution, that everyone played a role in the victory and after the Revolution was stolen and some people got killed. Today, I hope that this movement, whose main leaders are the people, considers the minorities rights and admits that the minorities has a highlighted role in this movement. Maybe the majority do not see them but ethnic, religious, and sexual have a role and their rights should be considered. Let us respect their rights and make a future for the Iranians when all people have equal rights.

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I do not care at all about the number. I believe that if we even have just one gay in Iran, he should have equal rights and be considered. I believe that we should not have any restrictions, we need to respect him as a man and respect his rights. World Health Organization says at least four to seven percent of every society are gay. This is not little. I think minorities rights, all over these years have been violated and they have never been allowed to speak. We see that religious minorities during these years have been doing what they could and protest and still continue.

The traditional and religious society, has never accepted that sexual minorities in Iran come together and discuss their demands. This film as far as I know is that first movie that is made about Iranian homosexuals. Before, a few films about “Transexuals” were made. But I think that this is the first documentary made about homosexuals in Iran and I hope it will be effective. I would love that most of the Iranian community see this film.

The other day at Georgetown something fortunate took place; a good friend who did not have a positive view on gay people, told me after the movie how logical he found these kids in this movie. He told me that he has much more respect for them now after seeing this film and cannot say anything against them. This was so good to hear. This film can help us Iranians, to respect the rights of each other, ethnic, religious and sexual minority. Because we are all human beings and should respect each others.

I know in many cases in connection with the issue of violence against sexual minorities, especially gay issue, it seems that part of it is really exaggerated. I mean that in fact it has been years that because of homosexuality, they have not executed anyone in Iran. Gays and lesbians are very comfortable in the community and have their lives. Have you seen anything different?

I strongly reject your idea that gays are comfortable in the community. Because you cannot find a homosexual in Iran who has announced his homosexuality and is able to live comfortably in the society. I have not seen that yet. Of course, in their own societies, they all know each other but do not think that for example at the University, someone knows that someone is homosexual and it stays a secret forever. Because of that, if they declare that they are gay, they will be harassed and humiliated. I can assure you that we, in the past thirty years, have had so many homosexuals sentenced to death in Iran.

I am talking about these past three or four years, apparently the society has evolved concerning this matter.

In three or four past years also according to statistics announced, at least eight gays have been executed in Iran. But the government in order to give legitimacy to these executions, they show these people as aggressors and rapers, because they know that if they execute a gay, human rights organizations will ask questions. Some statistics say that over the past thirty years, over four thousands gay have been executed but these stats were never been confirmed. But many gay have been executed in recent years but unfortunately their number is not clear.

According to what we see in your film, these four persons are ”slave” characters. People who were actually catamites. In your opinion who is the subject according to what is the position of the male in sex? You just talked about the ones that society treats as feminine because of their behavior. Those who are considered men and how they behave? Have you studied about them as well?

I really did not try at all to go that way and tried to show that those people are like me and you have a normal life.

Do you accept that the issue in the society is exactly their feminine behavior?

No, as far as I recall, I have not seen any feminine behavior in their attitude.

Not in their attitude but they expressed that their brother attacked them because they had an unusual behavior. Being a catamite is not an issue and in terms of culture is not a very strange issue and even many Iranians find this behavior a male behavior that a man can be get close and have a relationship. Your guys in your film are catamite anyway but I would like to know what is your opinion and review about those who are subjects in these relationships.

I do not know even now if those who are in my film are catamite or subject. And never asked the question. Those kids are homosexual and I have not seen any feminine behavior. But naturally they are being oppressed. Because they cannot easily express their sexual tendency and live comfortably.

The interview with Kian ended in a café but not the ”what if” and ”but if”. Minimal human rights, avoiding self-centeredness, not being judgmental, respecting the others privacy. Feels like it is far from what I believe in and what I have heard. I must ask, have you heard so far “Gentlemen? Remember the song from Kiosk: “Mr. Reyes, have you heard from you aunty?”

 

 

 

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