(Every so often articles published on our affiliate blog Iranian Film Daily will be reprinted here based on relevance). Filmmaker Marion Poizeau has some kind of chutzpah. Two years ago she grabbed her board and traveled to the most dangerous place in Iran to surf and share her love of the sport with others.
“A friend of mine told me about the waves in neighboring Pakistan. We figured there might be some ocean swells in Iran, too, so off we went to Baluchistan,” Poizeau told me during a conversation we had yesterday.
The resulting self-financed film “Into the sea” (2014; 52 min) came out this week on VOD via iTunes.
Poizeau, who grew up in the French Alps and has a knack for extreme sports, speaks in such confident and demonstrative tones that it’s hard not to be seduced by her optimism. More to the point, she also struck me as being vested profoundly with a duty to to turn dogmas on their head and effect positive change through sports. But more practical matters needed tending to at first.
Upon arriving in Baluchistan she and her crew quickly set about making nice with the locals.
“We had a sit-down with the elders and the tribesmen,” she explained to me. “We drank tea for about three hours with them. They spelled out the rules (women surfers must cover their hair, separate surfing lessons will be given for men and women). After that, we were under their protection.”
Baluchistan, in the southeastern region of Iran, is the wild west, kind of like “the axis-of-evil within the axis-of-evil” thing. The area is a way station for the wholesale opium trade. It is alleged that jihadis use it as pied-a-terre and local Sunni inhabitants (in an Iran that’s overwhelmingly Shia) often violently assert themselves, to say nothing of the locals’ illiteracy and poverty. But there are also hundreds of miles of pristine, easy-to-reach coastline that features some powerful waves to surf on and legion villagers and their families who are beyond happy to meet foreigners and discover a new sport.
Poizeau has been to Iran seven times. About her own inspiration for bringing gender equality through sports she said, “there are plenty of women athletes in Tehran. I want to help develop women’s sports outside the capital.”
WATCH THE TRAILER: http://vimeo.com/88429777
Poizeau made a short film about her experiences surfing and started connecting with Iranians, both on the ground and via social networks after her first visit to the country. “People were so surprised that you could actually surf here,” Poizeau told me, and added, “that’s when I founded Waves of Freedom, an organization powered through social media connections. Its objective is to turn sports into the spark that will engineer change in Iran.
Overtime, more material was shot for the film with the help of an Iranian crew which Poizeau found on Facebook.
In her documentary film “Into the sea” which is being released this week Poizeau, accompanied by Easkey Britton (an Irish surfer), Mona Seraji, the women’s snowboarding team ambassador and Shalha Yasini, an Iranian competitive swimmer, are shown surfing under the watchful stare of locals, and teaching youths how to surf. Poizeau’s cameras take in the scenes of young iranians running around the sandy turf, tribesmen and elder Imams staring incredulously, groups of men milling about, smiling shily. As the athletes encourage the locals, both men and women, to take up sports a connection begins to be made.
“Iran is a country that frightens as much as fascinates me,” Poizeau said towards the end of our conversation. “I’ve met courageous and determined women while there. These women gave others the courage to jump in the water and give it a try. That’s the power of surfing.”
“Into the Sea” took two years to make and was financed through micro-financing loans, a successful kisskissbankbank crowd-funding campaign and personal funds. The film was edited in Tehran. Poizeau premiered her film at the Cinéma Vérité Festival in Tehran this past November.
Film is available via VOD on iTunes – Ali Naderzad