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#41: Out of Focus / Promised Land (2 films)

Directed by:
2014 / 2016 / 52 / 24 mins
Persian with English Subtitles

Out of Focus profiles the artist Afshin Naghouni. Born and raised in Iran, he suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury during a birthday party in Tehran when he fell from the seventh floor of a building while trying to escape from Iranian police. He was able to move to Great Britain seventeen years ago for treatment and has rebuilt his life, getting married and now working as an artist from his wheelchair.

Max, one of the millions of immigrants in the world is trying to find his Promised Land. He was brought up as a Jew in Tajikistan and immigrated to Israel at the end of the Soviet Union. In his search for a place to call home, he met an Uzbek girl who he married and moved to the UK with. Yet, he still feels that he doesn’t belong there. In his quest of belonging, he decides to travel back to Tajikistan after 25 long years. This story reflects the Director’s own struggle of living in exile, who began living vicariously through Max in his emotional return back to his homeland.

Shahriar Siami Shal launched his cinematic career with several short documentaries created while attending an Iranian Youth Cinema Society film-making course. In 2002 he made “The Secret of Woodcock” which introduced him to Iranian national television, followed by several documentary films and series for TV. In 2008, he made “Of Men and Motorcycles” as part of the BBC World Service Trust workshop. Shahriar has not been able to return to Iran since then, due to the government of Iran’s hostile approach to the BBC World Service’s Persian TV, where he is employed. He is pursuing an MA Directing Documentary degree at the National Film and Television School. “Out of Focus” is his first feature documentary after immigrating to the UK. He also made four documentaries in the National Film and Television School that “Promised Land” is the graduation film.