Breaking the Language Barrier on Human Rights

English Translation of Narges Kalhor Interview

October 14, 2009

Original Video of Hana Makhmalbaf’s interview with Narges Kalhor

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Narges Kalhor

Narges Kalhor

An interview with Narges Kalhor by Hana Makhmalbaf:

October 12, 2009

Translated into English. The Persian of this interview is available in the above video, click here

Video translated by Nasim for Persian2English

Who is Narges Kalhor?
Narges Kalhor is the daughter of Mahdi Kalhor, a senior adviser to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Currently, Narges Kalhor is in Nuremberg, Germany for the human rights film festival. She plans to seek asylum there.


Hana: What is your movie about, Narges?

Narges: My movie is my free interpretation of a story by Kafka that is imaginary, which is set in an imaginary place where people are tortured. The entire story is about that.

Hana: Why would you chose torture as the subject of this movie?

Narges: Well, when I decided to make this movie, I read a lot of different stories, because I wanted to make a short movie derived from another author’s short story. The only one that attracted me and I felt it was related to me somehow, and the only character that I thought I could understand well, was from the work of [Franz] Kafka (influential fiction writer of the 20th century). And although the era he was born in and the situation he faced is not the same as the ones now, what he spoke of at his time, I guess, was something that people currently suffer from and will suffer from in the future. It wasn’t something that could be ignored; that’s why I wanted to work on this subject.

Hana: You are Mr. Kalhor’s daughter, right? Could you tell us what his position is, your thoughts on your father, and whether or not you both have the same opinion?

Narges: Well, my father, Mehdi Kalhor, is Mr. Ahmadinejad’s advisor. My father was the person who encouraged me to make films, and helped me through the very first steps of it. He is an artist and a painter. But it is now almost seven or eight years from that time. I was already working in my own profession when he entered Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government. Now he is doing his own work. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t seen my movie yet and he doesn’t know that I’ve done something like this. He has no idea which festival I have attended.

When you reach a certain point, everyone should go their own path. I came into cinema with different reasons from those of my father’s, and I have to continue with my work; even though I am Mehdi Kalhor’s daughter. It doesn’t matter whose daughter I am. This is something I have to do, and my dad has his own place in society.

Hana: You mean, you and your father do not have the same opinion? Do you see yourself as part of the green movement?

Narges: Well I came to Nuremberg because I believe that silence, meaning saying nothing, was a wrong move. I could have done nothing, stayed home, and made other movies in Tehran. But I felt like I had to show a positive reaction to those who have demonstrated by going on the streets and uniting without any pre-scheduled leadership. I felt like it is my duty to join these people; whether or not my family wants it. It was my duty to do so, whether my father agrees with it or not. It doesn’t matter anymore if we have different thoughts.

Hana: Do you think among all the daughters of the people who work in Mr. Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, it is only you who is part of the green movement or are there others part of it as well?

Narges: Well, the truth is, the reason why our generation is going on the streets, is because we are asking for freedom. It doesn’t matter at all whose son or daughter we are or what kind of position we have. I’m even talking to those who hold government positions, even my father. The point-of-view that we have is that we want to find the path to our lives ourselves. We reached a point where possibly a series of our actions were wrong and maybe we took the wrong steps to achieve simple goals, which can be detrimental to living our lives. Once again, it doesn’t matter which position anyone has. I work as a young person, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people like me. I mean, I don’t think it is only me who is brave enough to do such a thing like make a movie about human rights and torture, or state that I’m against torture. We can see in the news that the children of many people who work for the government somehow are doing the best they can to show their opposition to the government. And we hear in the news that a lot of them, some may be older than me, have made clear their opposing views.

Hana: What is your opinion of the future of the green movement?

Narges: Well, I think it just needs some courage and braveness. It’s hard to deal with the challenges that lead to higher levels. But when people get to that point, they can easily reach even higher levels. People have different degrees of  potential to do so.

Hana: Imagine if your was watching this clip, what would you say to him or to any father who is like yours; as a daughter who has joined the green movement?

Narges: I would say, “Hi” and “Be happy.” If he watches my movie and gives his opinion about it, I would give him the good news that I have only  just started. Also, I would say that I studied film making because of my beliefs, and that we would all be happy if he supports us; nothing would be better than that.

Hana: You mean you are asking Ahmadinejad’s consultant to support a “green” girl?

Narges: Yes, I would even ask Mr. Ahmadinejad to support us; why not? people can change at any time, at any point, and it’s not just for certain types of people. No one is told from the beginning of his life to have a certain point-of-view. people can start to think again and see which way is better. We just need to open our eyes and see the right path; the one millions of people who went on the streets have chosen. What they want is freedom; that’s it.

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    1 Comment

    1. Hanna asks Narges that “You are asking Ahmadinejad’s advisor to change?” I think it was fair to respond look at your own Dad. Mohsen Makhmalbaf started even worse than Kalhor, but look where he is now! people have potential to adapt and change. As a parent I really hope that one day Narges can have a tea with her Dad anywhere in the world and show him her works. Parents are proud of their children no matter what direction they take. Narges is product of a home that Kalhor and his wife created.

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