Maryam Pirband is a director/ writer who makes character-based films that explore social justice issues. She is best known for her films: Dance with me, Silence, P6, Dandelion season, and My portion.She studied movie directing in Iran and continued education to a Master's Degree at California's Azusa Pacific University.
She began her filmmaking journey in Iran and worked in different countries; She made award-winning short films, feature documentaries, feature film, and Tv Shows. Her films have been screened, nominated, and awarded at over 40 festivals worldwide.
She moved to LA couple years ago, where she started with a feature documentary for BBC. She made her award-winning short film Fermysk, which led her to make the feature film Dandelion Season in LA.
She has been invited to different film festivals' juries or the head of the jury panel worldwide.
Her books "Triangle" and "Where Am I Standing" were published in 2016 and 2018.
1. Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
Defiant young female director Hanna seems to be forced into an arranged marriage in America. Arranging anything for this talented, head-strong woman was their first mistake. This is a multi-layered, powerful and positive story. Hanna, is an amazing young woman on her way to self-discovery. The story includes Romance, Mystery, and great characters jumping into reality with ease and perfection. A multicultural story made by a crew from eight countries.
2. What are your ambitions with your project?
We are sending the message of humanity, morality, human rights, family matters, beliefs, and women empowerment, as much as I can.
3. Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
The most challenging and the most beautiful fact was working with stars and crew from all over the world. Different languages were the challenge I was predicting, but I faced different filming languages and behaviors on set. I had my crew from eight different places, Iran, Italy, Ukraine, Africa, Egypt, native American society, Canada, and Spain. Just imagine all of these crew members together. I had Rudy Youngblood From Apocalypto by Mel Gibson and Gohar Kheirandish, the Iranian Superstar who could only speak Farsi, and Sayed Badreya Egyptian star. Every day I was impressed by cultural exchanges and sometimes challenges.
But the most impressive thing happening on set related to Hana, the leading role. In Real life, she immigrated to the U.S. and took some pictures without a hijab, so she was banned from working in the film industry in Iran. No one dared to work with her, I did, And I knew they might ban this movie as well, but the story of Dandelion Season is about a young woman who fights for her personal freedom. She used to be in her family's beliefs prison, and she tore the chains. So I chose to give her the leading role. We had so many messages every day from people. Some of them sent flowers and cards to me to appreciate my bravery. Some were worried about my family and me. So every day, we face many different situations. When Hana was at the first table read, she was shaking all the time; she said this project was from God to her.
4. For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
For all people around the world, I prefer PG-13 because of some outbreaks of violence inside the family, from brother to sister.
5. Why should distributors buy your film?
I have a solid experience with this film. First, I was in India, where I received the Yellow rose Award for this movie at the 14th Jaipur film festival; at the first public screening, I wondered how much people loved my film. They asked for another screening, and at the second screening, I also faced a packed theatre, and people loved my movie. Then this happened at the New Delhi film festival, and we were awarded again.
The best example is how I made this film. My script was selected and awarded at the 15th edition of the mega action on film festival in Las Vegas. They made it happen because they thought that this film contained so many beautiful messages and a terrific story that could be a very good movie. I am sure The audience will love my movie. Even if it becomes distributed in India, where people have the same stories and already liked it at the festival the Indian population, it can bring back a good gross.
6. How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
I am famous as a female filmmaker who makes character-based films that explore social justice. I guess it explains everything about my film.
7. Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
Excellent question, my first B.It was commercial economics and I had a very good position in a very famous Airline, I was a champion in swimming, but I felt that was not me. I started with acting and performed in many movies. Still, every single director who worked with me, told me that you have the vision of a director, I studied filmmaking ten. After years working as A.D. and script supervisor, I made my first short film, P6 which was an action first action film in Iran made by a female director. P6 made me well known so fast. My second Short film was Dance With Me, which brought me many credits and awards. I made 15 short films, features, and documentaries. I am the only female director who made a 16-episode documentary on Iran family courts. I was on festival jury panels. I established vast festivals in the Middle East in countries like Iraq. I traveled to all places and made things happen with those art lovers. Five years ago, I received a green card for extraordinary artists and started to live and work in the States. I continued my education and finished an M.A. in screenwriting in California and I wrote two books.
I have done many things in my life, But my best moments are making my stories alive as my film and then starting the non-stop journey with my film's characters. I travel with my stories to different places, and my film's characters tell their stories to people.
Do you know how many times I see a change in people after watching my films? I can tell real stories like After my film, "My Portion," my subject family and his children accepted him after many years. I was full of tears and I got my actual award from life at that moment.
8. Who is your role model?
Honestly, I don't have one role model, but I learned and am learning from some unique souls,
9. Which movies are your favorites? Why?
Schindler's List, For the human message, Amazing script, directing style, outstanding performances, unique music, proper sound designing...Thelma & Louise for the best-written script, unique costume designs that help the story, great performances, and Buried for the unique directing style. If I want to continue, it will be a long article about which one and why, and in some movies I have favorite scenes in some movies like the crying hypnotized scene from Get Out.
10. Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
This is why I travel a lot, and I usually avoid going to hotels, I live closely between people, All my stories and characters are based on true events and real characters, besides the fact that I sometimes take advantage of Mythology or psychology in characterization. Sometimes I borrow characters from the books.
11. Which topics interest you the most?
It depends on the world's situation, what I am affected by at the time, or I feel the need for a particular subject, but usually social justice issues.
12. What do you consider your most outstanding achievement in your career?
Each time I see the audience get connected to my stories, I call it the audience's breath. The secret of my life is I am from a family that was forbidden for me to be a filmmaker, if I am still alive if I can make films, I am living my most outstanding achievement.
13. What do you consider most important about filming?
14. Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
It depends on the subject; sometimes the best is telling a story as a documentary, sometimes feature, sometimes animation, then is the time to find your movie directing technique, I call it my film language and each time it is different, For a specific story moving camera or hand held, is the best way, for the other one not. A story is better to make as a no cut and the other one with at least 3000 shots.
15. How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
Diversity: At the digital age, we are making many films every day in different places. it is like a two-sided sword. Many good movies can be made in a very low-budget version and make everyone shocked or vice versa.
16. What can disappoint you in a movie?
When I see a crew member or an actor is not in love with what he/she is doing and caring for other things more than what they are doing.
17. Who supports you in your film career?
I am lucky and usually, I find industry friends everywhere I go, My friends are my main supporters.
18. What are
the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics,
friends and family):
So far, wherever I went with my films I faced with people who loved my fims and got great feed backs, How ever there are negative competition always out there. But for me the most important is people's feed backs, negative or positive both help me grow.
19. Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
Yeah I was in Cannes a couple of times.
20. What are your future plans in your filmmaking career?
Continue finding valuable, beautiful stories to make.