Documentary director Thierry Michel's 'Iran: Veiled Appearances' was shown at a Sderot film festival Thursday, just a day ahead of the Islamic Republic's nationwide elections.
Michel was named guest of honor at the festival and attended a mini-retrospective event for his films, which have mostly portrayed Africa and the effects of colonialism.
Scene from the film 'Iran: Veiled Appearances'
The film offers a complex look at the many levels of Iranian society, on which Michel gathered information during four separate visits to Tehran and its surroundings. The director was able to conduct the visits, each of them three weeks long, after receiving a special tourist visa.
"It's a fascinating and colorful country, despite what the West wants to see it as," Michel told Ynet. "I went to Iran in order to better understand what an Islamic country is exactly and, as in many of my films, to break through stereotypes and pre-conceptions."
The director said he had met reformists, seculars, and religious people in Iran, and that many of them had been in favor of dialogue with the West. "Iran is a complex country," he said. "I realized there that to be a religious person and to want to live in a democratic country are not necessarily mutually exclusive."
Michel's movie has been banned in Iran, and authorities in the country have previously arrested the director during filming. He was eventually deported and his presence forbidden. "I am considered the enemy of the Iranian people," he said with a smile. "But truthfully, this only strengthens my will to show Iran's other face."
The director is eagerly awaiting the results of the upcoming Iranian elections. "The political changes will lead to moves of transition, I have no doubt," he said.
"Iran has a strong civilian society. For all of the writers and poets, journalists and spiritual leaders who are murdered for their opinions, there are dozens who protest against the regime and this is encouraging because they are not afraid," Michel added. "They will be the engine leading Iran into the future."