Talks & Interviews — August 5, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Director Scott Frank: Iranians believed I would be the best choice for this film (exclusive)

director scott jt frankThe relations between the U.S. and Iran have deteriorated since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

History has had incidents that only aggravated the strained relations between two countries.

One of such incidents happened in 1988, when Iranian Air Flight 655 was destroyed by the U.S. Navy’s guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes between Bandar Abbas and Dubai on Sunday July 3, killing all 290 passengers and crew members, including 66 children.

The U.S. government has refused to apologize for the incident, claiming the crew had mistaken the Iranian Airbus A300 for an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter.

More than 20 years later since the incident, the relations between Iran and the U.S. have not improved at all, however with regard to the 1988 incident, one man is willing to tell the truth.

It has been reported that the New Jersey born U.S. documentary filmmaker Scott J.T. Frank plans to make a film based on real-life events about the downing of an Iranian airliner by a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf in 1988. Frank said his film would reflect the true events that happened in 1988.

BZFilm decided to talk to Scott Frank directly, to find out more about this film project, and what a viewer should expect from such film.


Mr. Frank, how big is the film’s budget? Iranian sources claim the film is being sponsored by investors from both sides…

We have secured a very good budget which allows us to secure strong talent and make a film with high standards. We have a promise of funding from both sides.

Iranian government sometimes treats its actors unfair, according to some sources, if they “appear in inappropriate films”, how does that involve your film? Does it feature any Iranian actors or actresses?

The Iranian Government has laws and customs which must be followed. There are similar laws and customs in the U.S., but they are less defined.  These are not, in our experience, terribly limiting.  Since we are makers of quality content and have no interest in producing Adult Entertainment, I don’t see our running into difficulties with issues of censorship.The actors will be treated very well, I assure you.

The film is said to be distributed in North America. Considering the film’s somewhat provocative story, how good do you think it will do commercially? Any plans to send it to festivals? Will the film be shown in Iran?

Of course we are aiming to distribute this film in every country of the world. The story is universal and involves the sentiments of compassion and forgiveness. The film’s story is based on real events, and our intention in making the picture is to help build cultural and artistic bridges across these two nations.

There is an old history of friendship between Iran and the United States. The similarities between these two cultures take root in graciousness and the warm-hearted qualities of the people of each nation. Though there have been political complications over the years, these don’t preclude a rebirth of friendship, or if not friendship, at least understanding.

To be very candid, what Westerners don’t understand about Iran and Islam in general is a lot.  We tend to equate Muslims with the madmen who perpetrated the 911 disaster. By speaking to some of these issues through art and culture, we believe that a degree of healing may take place.

This film is not anti-american at all. But it touches upon an unfortunate event that changed many lives, just as 9/11 changed the lives of many Americans. The film will make the festival run and of course, will be projected in Iran.

Does the film have a title already?

At the moment, we are calling it “the airbus project”. But one title I have considered is “Still Waters Run”.

How would you assess the US-Iranian relations today, with all the tensions regarding Islamic Republic’s nuclear program? Do you think there is a chance for a possible war?

We pray for peace and our effort is toward peace. My friend and producing partner, Bahram Heidari and I have been working together for the past 6 years to create a film company that builds bridges between the Muslim World and the West.  You might not realize this, most Americans do not, but Iran is a great country with great people. We must learn to live together respectfully. Peace can bring a great deal of prosperity on both sides and be of particular benefit to America with its currently troubled economy.

While sanctions are certainly not invited by Iran, it’s important to consider how these can provide motivation to a nation to become self-sufficient.  During this period, while its currency is challenged, this is a country which has very little debt and remains prosperous and resourceful.

Regarding the script of the film… Iranian media says when the script was provided to the Iranian side, there were some additions/editing made to the story? Were they significant? What was omitted?

The story was originally written by Bahram Heidari  under the name “Repentance”. Because I have been chosen to write the screenplay and direct, I was asked to interact with some of my friends at the film ministry and the Iranian financing entity.  The ministry did not wish for the film to be one sided or unfair to the U.S.. They believed, as did Mr. Heidari, that the task would therefore best be accomplished by a U.S. patriot, such as myself.

How was this idea of making such a film conceived?

It is one of several incidents that have occurred over the past 50 years between the U.S. and Iran, which has been left unresolved. With a bit of focus and attention, that lack of resolution may be ameliorated. We have 6 film projects slated for the Middle East, 1- Rumi, 2- Ashura, 3- Mist of delusion, 4 – Air bus project, 5 – The legend of timelessness, 6 – The Quest of Sheherzade. Bahram Heidari wrote an initial story which we subsequently rewrote together.

It’s important that we review some of the behavior of the past if we are going to build a more peaceful world for our future.  With all that is wrong with our tiny little planet, if we are going to survive, we must first invent a peaceful world. Mother Earth (that’s an allegorical comment, I am not pagan)  is awaiting our transformation.

She’s been pretty patient with us, I’d say, but it’s time we got to work and put ourselves on a pathway to peace It seems to me that providing the vision for such a transformation is the primary responsibility of the artist.

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