Mehdi Norowzian, teams up with Leila Hatami on the film ‘A Time In Eternity’ – Deadline
EXCLUSIVE: Iranian-British director and artist Mehdi Norowzian has just wrapped filming in Iran for his new drama A time in eternity with Leila Hatami, member of the Venice 2022 jury, best known for her roles in A separation, The pig and To imagine.
The production marks the first feature film in two decades for Norowzian, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 1999 short. Kill Joe and soon after directed Joseph Fiennes, Elizabeth Shue, Dennis Hopper and Sam Shepherd in the drama Leo.
In the meantime, he has built a career as a top commercials director, working closely with Ridley Scott’s RSA Films under the [email protected] banner.
Hatami stars as a woman who is on a relentless and potentially futile quest to find her missing husband. As a backdrop, the situation puts incalculable strain on her relationship with her 12-year-old daughter, as she also faces unwanted attention from her love interest brother-in-law.
Norowzian describes the work as a metaphysical drama bordering on science fiction that taps into the societal dynamics at play in contemporary Iran.
“The sci-fi in the movie has nothing to do with spaceships and aliens, it’s more to do with a different mental space more than anything, and the mental space takes on a real form in the movie,” the director told Deadline from Iran. .
The feature film was shot over 87 days entirely in Iran, in locations spanning Tehran’s capital, the UNESCO-listed Qeshm Island in southern Iran., the ancient central desert city of Varzanehh and Mazandaran, the mountainous region of northern Iran, bordering the Caspian Sea.
Norowzian’s London and Dubai-based company Joy Films, run jointly with longtime business partner Desley Gregory, is handling finance and producing.
A time in eternity marks a homecoming production for Norowzian, 64, who was born in Iran but was taken to London by his mother as a teenager to study fine art.
“I moved to London when I was 16, but for seven, eight years I have dreamed of coming back to Iran to make a film in Farsi, although I knew it would be a challenge,” said the director.
“I wanted to go back to where I came from, to my smells and my tastes. The movie isn’t about the self-discovery of someone returning home, it’s more about me operating in a house I left a long time ago. It’s been very strange to come back to it, but if it’s been an absolute ride of a lifetime.
Norowzian credits award-winning actress and director Niki Karimi for connecting him with his co-writers Sepideh Ghorbani and Ali Asghari and helping him establish the setting for filming in Iran.
Casting Hatami was at the top of his wish list from the start, he said, “It was always going to be Leila. It would never be someone else. We wrote the character for her and luckily she accepted it.
Speaking about his 20-year absence from the feature film, Norowzian says the estrangement from cinema happened by circumstance rather than by design.
“After being nominated for an Oscar, there was a lot of interest in Hollywood, but I couldn’t figure out what was on offer,” he said. “I think they came to me because I knew how to do something that looked interesting and good, but the subject matter came second.”
Having made a conscious decision to focus on film again, Norowzian has four other film and TV projects in development beyond A time in eternity.
They include the action drama series about Cyrus the Great, founder of the first Persian Empire, as well as two feature films: a cross-cultural love story set in London and Ireland and an alien love story. He is also working on an adaptation of the Iranian epic poem Shahnameh or Book of Kings.
“It’s a truly Shakespearian and compelling series of incredible stories. I’m trying to modernize it and portray it in a way that suits a TV series that we can watch on our I-pads, but there’s a whole bunch of other things that make it a hot topic” , explained Norowzian.