One value we tout highly at DCIFF is helping our films live past the festival. In the past two months, we have been fortunate to partner with BloomBars in Columbia Heights to rescreen Paat twice. If you haven’t had the privilege of seeing the film yet, Iranian director Amir Toodehroosta’s feature film debut is not to be missed. Paat follows the titular character, a charismatic canine with a three-foot view of society’s discretions.
Both screenings drew intimate crowds followed by highly engaged discussions led by Executive Director Deirdre Evans-Pritchard. While it is nearly impossible for Toodehroosta to receive a travel visa to the US, the filmmaker preemptively sent his own Q&A prior to the screening, providing excellent background and color to the discussions.
For example: to some it is general knowledge that in the Islamic world dogs are considered unclean and to call someone a dog is one of the worst insults. It may come as no surprise that it is actually illegal to keep dogs as pets in many Islamic countries. A unique cultural aspect to keep in mind while watching the film is keeping a dog as a form of rebellion or as Toodehroosta said in his Q&A, “dogs are at a loss between tradition and modernity.” Toodehroosta intelligently uses his film to make this point by juxtaposing human behavior with Paat, “Which is really impure? The dog or some humans around us?”
During filming, Toodehroosta faced several issues. “Some producers, as soon as they were informed of the film’s theme, refused to invest because they were afraid the film might be banned.” This fear led Toodehroosta to even keep his actors in the dark about the film’s duration which he originally told them was going to be a short “because we didn’t want them to have to stress for a feature.” They were informed the day before filming.
Unsurprisingly, the film was banned in Iran so many of Toodehroosta’s own countrymen haven’t seen the film and it is difficult for him to tour the film. Here at DCIFF, we were glad to do our little part. We look forward to seeing Paat prosper on the festival circuit and wish Amir the best in his career moving forward.