ABTIN SARABI

« Parcelles S7 », 2020, 27 min 49

Voice over : Shabaaz Mystic

Production : Esther Creative Pictures – Krysalide Diffusion

Réalisateurs : Abtin Sarabi - Dominique Olier

I made this film during an artistic residency in Senegal. We only had 40 days for research, location scouting and filming. At the beginning, I wanted to work on another project which would be the continuation of my previous documentary film: Ahlé Hava (The inhabitants of the wind). I shot it along the coasts of the Persian Gulf and south of Iran. He broached the question of shamanism and exorcism. At the beginning, I wanted to work on another project which would be the continuation of my previous documentary film: Ahlé Hava (The inhabitants of the wind). I shot it along the coasts of the Persian Gulf and south of Iran. He broached the question of shamanism and exorcism.
The origin of this practice which is called the Zâr ceremony comes from different countries of Africa. I wanted to continue it in Senegal because I found a resemblance between the current ceremonies in Iran and in this country. A combination is remarkable between the two cultures. I met several shamans in Saint Luis and in Dakar and in a few villages, but unfortunately I only got refusals.

 

One day, I went to a cultural evening at the French Institute in Senegal, with my friend Jacob Wiener (American artist and director with whom I shared this artistic residence). We met one of the directors of CSS (Compagnie Sucrière Sénégalais). He told us about the existence of a very large sugar cane field in northern Senegal, near the Mauritanian border in a town called Richard Toll. He gave us some details of how to harvest. For us, imagining what is happening there has been very stimulating.

 

We decided to visit CSS. After 3 days we were allowed to visit. We did a scouting day on the fields and the factory.

 

Then for a week we researched this subject. We negotiated with this company in order to obtain filming authorization to make a documentary. But at first, they didn't agree to let us film. Indeed the place is very closed and secure. And they did not want people from outside to find out about the working conditions of the employees, which are very harsh. Finally thanks to the negotiations of the French institute, we had the authorization of three days filming only and for two people and without assistants.

 

Our shoot took place in very intense and complicated conditions. Work begins at 4:00 a.m. and ends at 11:00 p.m. or even midnight.

 

We were not allowed to interview the workers. Throughout our filming, a CSS agent accompanied us to prevent interviews. A few workers told us that they wanted to talk on camera about the difficulty of this job and their low pay, but unfortunately it was not possible. This is the reason why I thought of exposing these problems there in the content of the images and the poetic word, without possible interview.

 

I chose poems by Sohrab Sepehri (Iranian contemporary poet). I adapted his poems about my film. The relationship between man and nature in the poems of Sohrab Sepehri is always present. In his poems this relationship takes on a mystical form in the mind of the reader. This is the reason for this choice for my film.

 

The music at the end of this film is called Saraba. Saraba is a utopia or a lost paradise for the Senegalese. Saraba is a place which, in the popular belief of the natives, is a quest. They like to look for it but fail to do so. I used this music symbolically at the end of my film. The images show the workers' aspirations for freedom and in their dreams they like to go to SARABA and to forget all the difficulties of their lives.

Abtin Sarabi

 

Abtin Sarabi was born in 1984 in Tehran. He is a filmmaker, photographer, visual artist and Musician. From adolescence, Abtin Sarabi developed a photographic style tending more towards that of documentaries and sociology, rather than staged photography. After studying oriental philosophy, painting and photography at the University of Art and Architecture of Tehran, from where he graduated in 2009, Abtin turned to video art and cinema.

During four years’ study at the School of Fine Arts (Beaux-Arts) in Toulouse, France, he directed short films, art videos and several series of analog photography. Abtin obtained a Higher National Diploma in Plastic Arts in 2014. He continued his research for two years in Fresnoy, The National Studio of Contemporary Arts in Tourcoing, France, where he obtained his Post (graduate) diploma (2016).

His creations, strongly imbued with pictorial art, are Often akin to « poetic cinema », no doubt because of the constant presence of a symbolic dimension and references to mythology.