Cinema is a window that opens onto our dreams; dreams through which we recognize ourselves and by the consciousness and passion we gather from them we alter our lives to the benefit of our dreams.
We isolate ourselves in cinema seats and, retiring into our inner selves, we deepen our self-knowledge through our dreams. Perhaps nowhere else than in a cinema are we as close to one another and yet as isolated from one another. This is the miracle of cinema. The cinema seat is more helpful than the psychiatrist couch for knowing one’s self and needs. The viewer can make his own film with the help of our half-made film. In one instant, hundreds of viewers make a film that belongs to them and is suitable to their own singular interior world.
I want to point out again to Godard who said “What is alive is not what is on the screen, but what goes on between the viewer and the screen.” In this reading of cinema, the filmmaker and the viewer have equal parts, not because the filmmaker charms and the viewer gets charmed. This is not equality. The viewer is truly creative and deserves a part equal to his creativity. Sometimes viewers imagine a film which is much better and in a way a better-made film than the one we have made, and this shows that they can be more creative than we are.
I always think about a cinema which gives more opportunity to the viewer, a “half-made” cinema, an unfinished cinema which gets completed and perfected by the viewer’s creative mind, and the result of this process is hundreds of films produced by the creative minds of hundreds of viewers. It is a reality that the nonfiction film is not popular amongst most viewers. But the narrative must have blanks in it like crossword puzzles that the viewer fills in—like an investigator in a detective story. It’s up to the viewer to discover it. Like in a puzzle, the viewer must discover the connections that are proper to him and build up his story in the way that suits him. He has to discover the story in order to make it his own.
I believe it is this creative implication of the viewer from which we can expect to give life to the picture on the screen. Otherwise both the viewer and the film die out.
Narratives which are so completely and perfectly molded that nothing can be added to or subtracted from them have one great advantage and one great disadvantage: namely that nothing can be added to or taken away from them, and that no mind can penetrate and alter them. This is why viewers with different cultural and intellectual capabilities arrive to the same and only film, and why this varied audience becomes uniform when confronted with our work.
In the second century of cinema’s life, it is impossible not to respect the viewer and not to accept him as an understanding and constructive member of the filmmaking process. In order to arrive at this important aim, maybe it is necessary for the “God of the screen” to descend from his ivory tower and become a simple viewer, and introspectively coil up in the director’s chair (which chair in Iran?!) as in a movie hall seat in the dark and view what is happening in front of the camera, becoming the viewer of the film all the while that it is being shot. Not to neglect or underestimate the role of contingency and accident in this process. To believe that it is not always possible to execute the constructs of our minds. This is only feasible in animation films. In live cinema and with live beings (actors or non-actors) in front of the camera, the role of unpredicted events and incidents must be taken seriously. There is no such thing as a particular and prefabricated form. Everything depends on the interaction of the live and constructive elements of a film. It is a necessity to be the viewer of the film while making it and to go along with that which is alive, full of energy and independent of us. For one hundred years, cinema has been the domain of filmmakers. Let’s be hopeful about its second century.•