Interview: Amir Escandari

Interview: Amir Escandari

Wir haben am 19.07.2018 mit Amir Arsames Escandari, dem Regisseur und Autor von PIXADORES gesprochen. Ein Teil des Interviews ist im aktuellen JUICE Magazin #188 veröffentlicht worden. Das komplette Gespräch findet ihr nun hier bei uns. Alle weiteren Informationen zu unserer PIXADORES Kino-Tour könnt ihr auf unserer Seite nachlesen.

Und nun, ran ans Material:

Hi Amir, who are you? Please tell us something about you!

My name is Amir Arsames Escandari. I am a film-maker based in Finland. I was born in Iran and in 1986 my parents escaped the Iran-Iraq War and we moved to Yugoslavia. Then, in 1990 we had to escape the Yugoslav War and we ended in Finland. In Finland for some time, I was sure that the Russian are going to attack. I was always ready and was constantly telling my parents to be ready to leave. When I look at my life now, it’s very easy to see why I ended up making films and telling stories. Escapism is a great medicine.

What was your motivation for this movie?

When I was a little boy, I was doing my homework and my dad was watching the news on TV. For a moment, I was drawn to the news where they were talking about an epidemic in Brazil. The epidemic was called “Train surfing”. People got on top of the trains and surfed. The train surfing was the cause of 200 deaths that year. The image of young men on top of the train stuck in my head. I don’t know why.  Years later, I was writing a fiction film about a gang of train surfers. Then I got curious and wanted to meet people who do it and wanted to experience it myself. So I bought a ticket to Sao Paulo. When I got there, I had no idea I would end up making a film about Pixacao.

What is your film about?

Well, the film is about many things. We filmed a group of friends who did Pixacao and surfed on top of trains for almost three years. It’s about their life and what they do. Brazil is a very beautiful place, but it has many big problems. For some it’s a constant every day struggle to survive. For many the only way to survive is crime life. The only option. The young people that I met and became friends with were frustrated and angry with the options given to them. There was a certain kind of aggression towards the world they felt was hostile towards them, and Pixacao is part of that.

How did the shooting go? Were there special challenges and problems?

There was many challenges and that’s why we wanted to do the film, because it was not easy to make. The first challenge was to be accepted in the pixacao community. That was really hard and it took me some time. I can't speak Portuguese, so I really had to do a lot to get the trust. I did what they did. I ate what they ate. I drank what they drank. I smoked what they smoked. I got into trouble the same way they got. Soon we were friends. I was the crazy gringo who couldn't speak their language. In a crazy way in the end, the fact that I didn’t speak the same language brought us closer and later during the filming it even made the film better. During the filming when it was possible I had a translator mic-ed up somewhere and was listening to him on my headphones. So I kind of knew what was going on and could react. Not always on time, but it was better than nothing.  It would have also been much easier if I had shot the film by myself but after a few months of shooting, myself I realised that I wanted the film to be different to what I initially thought. I mean in the beginning I thought the film would be very raw and dirty but then after some time it didn't feel right, and I took a very different direction. I needed help, and after that there was five of us doing the film. So, more people in an environment like that means more problems and headaches. Getting access to favelas and some parts of the city meant, we had to negotiate with different people and that was sometimes really difficult. You just don’t walk into a favela to do a film because your friends live there. Also what the guys were doing was very crazy dangerous. From free climbing high building to train surfing or just shooting in the favelas or breaking into places. There were a lot of scenes we couldn't put into the film because of legal issues and we constantly had to think how far are we ready to go with them.

What is your graffiti background?

I used to do graffiti myself when I was younger. That was in the 90´s in Helsinki. I got into trouble many times. Back then, it was very different. Now, it’s in some ways very pop. I have friends who go on dates and take their date to do graffiti. And friends who used to be in our crew take their kids to do graffiti. Times change. Don’t get me wrong, there are still crews doing some hardcore shit like 1UP. I guess, in some way the 1UP crew has a 90´s spirit in them.  They actually helped us in the Berlin part, and they went along with the boys, and we filmed some crazy things they did.

Why was the movie almost never shown? There was only one screening in Germany – why?

That is a good question, but unfortunately I don’t have an answer for you. I don’t want to speculate. My favourite moment in the film is when the guys come to Berlin. I think it’s a very interesting part of the film, because it deals with what is happening in the art scene today and what we consider to be art.

What do you think about the PIXADORES cinema tour of Rotzfrech Cinema and Blackstreets?

I am grateful. The company that distributes the film has not really done anything with the film. I mean, it’s not even available in the internet. If it wasn't for Tom from Blackstreet magazine this would not be possible. So, I thank him above anything else.

You have the last words.

Right now, most of the guys in the film are in prison and Berlin was very important for them and the friends they made in Berlin. So, I want to dedicate the film or the tour to my friends Ricardo, William and Biscoito, and I am grateful that even though they are not free at the moment, they are being given this opportunity to be seen and heard. It means a lot to many.

Thank you.


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