American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 30

I

Family Strife
By Phil Rhodes

Cinema is big business in Iran, where
the country's movie theaters entertained
more than 18 million people - about a
quarter of the population - in 2009 alone.
English-speaking audiences are perhaps
most familiar with the country's cinema via
international competition; at this year's
Cannes Film Festival, the award for best
screenplay went to writer-director Asghar
Farhadi, whose film The Salesman was also
nominated for the Palme d'Or and attracted
a Best Actor award for Shahab Hosseini.
Photographed by veteran cinematographer Hossein Jafarian, The Salesman deals with the stress placed on Emad
(Hosseini) and his wife, Rana (Taraneh
Alidoosti), who are forced to move to a new
apartment at short notice. When Rana is
attacked, the couple suspects that the
perpetrator is associated with the apartment's former tenant, who was likely a
prostitute. The movie's title refers to a
production of Arthur Miller's stage play
Death of a Salesman, in which Rana and
Emad - both actors - appear.
Jafarian spoke to AC through his
30

January 2017

son, Azad Jafarian, describing beginnings
that will be familiar to filmmakers worldwide. "I attended two schools," the cinematographer notes. "One was the
Advanced School of TV and Cinema [now
Iran Broadcasting University], where I studied cinematography. Then I got a degree at
Tehran University of Dramatic Arts [now the
School of Cinema and Theater, part of
Tehran University of Art], where I studied
directing." As a director of photography for
Iran's national television station, Jafarian
"worked on a lot of documentary films," he
notes. "It was an opportunity for me to
travel all across Iran and even some countries outside Iran."
Jafarian moved on to shoot "short
films and TV serials," he continues. "Then
about 40 years ago I shot my first feature
film, How Starry Was My Night." His lowkey lighting on director Rakhshan BaniEtemad's 1992 feature Nargess established
Jafarian as a go-to cinematographer for
social dramas. The Salesman is Jafarian's
third collaboration with Farhadi, following
the 2006 film Fireworks Wednesday and
2009's About Elly.
Jafarian's involvement with The
Salesman began in summer 2015, when he
American Cinematographer

was in the U.S. "I got a call from Mr.
Farhadi, who said he had a new script that
he wanted me to shoot," the cinematographer recalls. "I came back to Iran, he developed it, and by the fall we went into
production. I was there from the very beginning of the idea." Jafarian's involvement
was greater than many directors of photography would expect. "After doing three
films together," he says, "Farhadi expects
me to state my opinion about not only cinematography but also everything else to do
with the film: the script, the storytelling, the
acting, the production design, the
makeup."
Joining Jafarian on the production
was camera operator Payman Shadmanfar,
who has an 11-year history of working with
the cinematographer "as a camera assistant, a production assistant, a grip," Jafarian notes. Shadmanfar has since become a
successful director of photography in his
own right, but given the high profile of the
production and its director, he agreed "to
be my operator, so we had one last collaboration together," Jafarian adds.
"Farhadi wants his actors to be free
and to show 360 degrees of any given set,"
the cinematographer continues. "The way I

The Salesman unit photography by Habib Majidi, SMPSP, courtesy of Amazon Studios and Cohen Media Group.

Emad (Shahab
Hosseini) and his
wife, Rana
(Taraneh
Alidoosti), are
forced to change
apartments on
short notice,
kicking off a
spiral of
misfortune in the
dramatic feature
The Salesman.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 1
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Contents
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