| In Conversation with Filmmakers

In Conversation with Mehdi Khoramian

(“The Switchman”, 2016, Iran, Mehdi Khoramian)

How did you learn about FCI film festival?
I got to know the FCI festival through the platform film free way.

Do you currently live and work in Iran?
I live in Iran. I am the director of a stop motion studio and have been specializing in animation for many years. And over the years I’ve worked with a lot of professional films with the help of my professional team.

You have received 58 Awards. Tell us more about these awards
I have been involved in an animation festival for many years, some of which are national and some international and I like every artist to see the works I make and the best place to see them are festivals, and I think winning awards at the festivals will motivate the artist and allow the artist to move on his her own path towards better and more enduring works.

It seems that the messages of “hope” and “despair” are strong concepts in this work. For example, hope intertwined with a deep uncertainty are what motivate the Switchman to begin his routine every day at a certain time, while his recurring nightmare/dream (an upward movement towards an unknown place) fills his nights. Do you feel that this is the dilemma of all modern men? Or is it different in various socio/economic context?
In my opinion, modern man is full of contradictions and at any moment he may be frustrated with hope  the film the main character lives on the edge between reality and fantasy and in many moments the audience cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality. Because the main theme of the film is the anticipation and love, fortunately, these themes do not know the limits and are universal and this dilemma can be shared across cultures.

Switchman has always been an iconic character in Iranian cinema and theater implying the theme of time and criticizing the routine of modern life. “Still Life” directed by “Sohrab Shahid-Saless” and the “Switchmen” (tele-theater) are notable examples. Have you ever thought that this iconic image might have influenced your observation about the character of the Switchman in your animation? What are some of the similarities and/or differences?
In my opinion, the train is a very dramatic element and you can look at the train as a living  organism. “Still Life”  (Sohrab Shahid-Saless) is known as one of the leading and modern works in Iranian cinema, and he has well contrasted modern life with tradition. Undoubtedly we have been directly and indirectly influenced by the film “Still Life”, especially the concept and atmosphere of my film.

The details of the setting (one of the highlights in “Switchman”) reflects a particular historical period in Iran, while the main themes of the film are timeless. Was there a specific purpose in choosing that time period? Did it just have a nostalgic function? Or were there other reasons?
We had to define a time and place for the film to tell the story. Initially, we decided to consider a space without a specific time and place , but after consulting the concept, we decided that Iran’s twenties would be a good time for film, especially with the completion of the national railways, and the research that was undertaken. At the end we came to this concept and graphics.

What fascinates you about short films and more specifically short animation? Do you find it an ideal medium to connect to the audience or is it an experimental phase towards making long films/animations?
Short animation is a kind of animation, and it can be defined as a poetical format, and as one poet might say in a particular form of poetry, I have chosen the short animation format not just as a step towards the long format, as in my opinion short animation is intrinsically appealing and effective.

You could have selected a different artform to communicate your ideas, poetry, painting or still photography. what is it about film that has captured your imagination?
From my point of view animation is an independent art apart from poetry, literature, visual arts, sculpture and music …..and the movement element has been added to them and all of these have been giving me an  increasing interest in Animation  each day.

The viewer has a certain experience watching the film, and then there is also the impact the film leaves on its audience after it has been seen. What do you imagine that people will want to talk about after they see your film?
The movie is more about the world of fantasy and reality, and the viewer, after watching the film, may be wondering if this is real life or do we imagine we are living and living?

Is there anything else you want us to know about you as a director or about your film?
No.I have nothing to add but I’m  just hoping  those who have watched the movie have enjoyed watching it.

What is next for you as a filmmaker?
Me and My team are currently producing a short animation and hoping to have it completed by the next year.

Thank you very much. It was a great pleasure talking with you.


“December 2019”


Disclaimer: Please note that most artists, filmmakers and authors presented by FCI are not native speakers of the English language. To avoid misinterpretation, it is FCI’s policy to print their responses as received without structural or content changes.

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