Director Farhad Yawari about dreams, hope and the disadvantage of perfectionism.
The main themes in the your movie DOLPHINS are freedom and the realization of your dreams. Apart from the central image of the water, dolphins play a major part in it. Do you like swimming yourself?
Not at all. Unfortunately, I cannot swim very well. This is why I was not directly involved in the under water shootings. I tracked the shooting via monitor on our boat.
Was it very difficult then to work with wild dophins?
It was horrible! On day 1 of the shooting in the Bahamas, the dolphins appeared. I had been waiting years for this moment to come. They looked at us briefly – and then just swam away. And there was me standing there with the team, press reporters and photographers. I could have shot myself! The next day, the dolphins stayed for about ten minutes and the next, even longer. Fortunately, they had become used to Julia Brendler and had befriended her.
Shooting these scenes appears to have been really exhausting for Julia Brendler.
Absolutely. On the seventh day in the Bahamas, she just collapsed. She completely wore herself out diving and could not get back on her feet. A few months earlier, she almost broke her foot during the shooting, when she had to leap out of the window of the psychiatric hospital for the liberation scene. She has been totally committed to the project from the very beginning. And she's got this unique camera magic. When we filmed our first scene with Julia, our cameraman Torsten Breuer was so impressed, he almost fell off his chair. I then gazed through the camera myself – and indeed: she looked like a princess.
Is perfectionism very important to you?
Yes, unfortunately. Too much perfectionism may also be disadvantageous. Long after the movie had been completed and edited, it was still lying around at my place. I just wasn't sure, whether it was good, whether it was what I had been dreaming of. My friends literally had to force me to finally release it.
Most up-and-coming movie makers dream of an education at a film academy. Your were enrolled at the HFF TV & Film Academy in Munich and then you left after only three months. Why?
I had huge dreams when I went there. I wanted to try things, experiment and just do things. I looked forward to working with others, like in a big family. But they were reserved and solitary. And none of them wanted to take risks. I wouldn't want to generally condemn the HFF academy, for some people, such a sheltered house may be an advantage. But it just wasn't the right thing for me. When a professor said yogurt was black, the students would say the same. When the professor wasn't around, they said, yogurt was white. But I didn't want yogurt to change color so often.
And your first camera practice was supposed to be DOLPHINS, which was much too complex and too expensive for such a practice.
For me, it wasn't about the HFF's budget. I just wanted to make this movie, even if it had to be without the financial backing of the school. But they all said: "Impossible, you are insane. Do something smaller!" Nobody thought I could do it. Also, at that time, Tarantino movies with gangsters and lots of shooting were considered the ultimate in cool.
Is DOLPHINS a movie about love or about freedom?
About both. Love is freedom, more than anything else the freedom of the other one. At the end of the movie, Lara is diving on her own, without Jakob. The love in DOLPHINS is unconventional, a kind of love that's different from that in Meg Ryan movies. Lara and Jakob never exchange a word, their emotions are only ever expressed in the images, in their gestures and glances, which are larger than words. And, of course, they are incorporated in the colours and in the music.
So you think that your turbulent life has had an effect on the film?
Sure. I am from Persia, the land of "Arabian Nights", I grew up with romantic fairy-tales. After that, I lived in Turkey, Austria and Germany, in totally different cultures that all left their mark on me. I also had to learn at a very early age what it's like to lose things. I guess that's why I started to like taking risks.
It that the reason why you have declined numerous offers from Hollywood, those you received following your success with DOLPHINS at US festivals? You could have made movies for generous studios such as Warner or Miramax, with screen stars such as Winona Ryder and Richard Gere.
I declined these offers because none of these scripts touched my heart. What I want is a project I believe in, one that I am in love with. With DOLPHINS I had sleepless nights. I swore to myself I would make this movie, and to labor and toil for it day and night. I wanted to make a dream come true. And I want to keep on this track.
Are there any limits as to the realization of his dreams?
The limits are where you start destroying other people's dreams or even yourself. When you're in the middle of your dream, you often do not have the wisdom to realize that. Me, for example, I have sacrificed a part of my youth for this film, I have toiled, while others had lots of fun partying. I hardly got enough sleep and lost 35 pounds!
What advice would you give dreamers?
If you really want something really bad, you will achieve it. No matter if they tell you it's impossible. Whatever is impossible for others may well be possible for yourself. They don't know you, don't know anything about your strengths and your weaknesses.
What will you do if, in a few years time, a young film student comes to your door and wants to makes his dream come true?
I would open the door to him. And hopefully, I would be successful enough to be able to write him a check.