SANCTUARY OF HER, 26min., USA
Directed by Geoff Poister
Two identical twin sisters from Iran create mesmerizing paintings that reflect a major conflict in their lives. Physically, they are two people. But psychologically they feel they are one. The single persona cannot exist in the real world, so the sisters invented an imaginary space where they can go to create their paintings. The mythical person who lives in the imaginary world has taken on a life of her own. As she is growing up and changing, she appears to be guiding the future of the twins in real life.
When I met Farzaneh and Bahareh Safarani in 2016 at an art exhibition for students in the MFA program at Northeastern University and the School the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, I was completely mesmerized by the power of their paintings. They could paint with beautiful classical precision, while infusing their paintings with a haunting moving image that is beautiful and chilling.
They are now on the cusp of becoming world famous artists. Their work is being acquired and exhibited by museums in the U.S. and Europe. But for now, they remain modest, but brilliant artists who will not remain unknown for long.
This film explores the unusual, twin spirit that arises from a unique imaginary space that is in a world of their own.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I went to an art show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I saw a painting that looked beautiful, and then I noticed something moving within it. I learned that it was created by twin sisters from Iran and then I had a chance to meet them. I thought they were both lovely and mysterious, so I returned to the show the following year and started to talk to them.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
About five years. After seeing the sisters’ exhibitions for three years, I decided to ask them if they might be interested in making a film of some kind. I was surprised when they agreed. I didn’t want to make a typical documentary, and I didn’t want to make an abstract art film. I wanted to do something that was both, and they liked the idea. Once we had the idea worked out it took two years to film it because of all the parts that had to come together.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle was finding the story structure. It had to be compelling, but without the standard reliance on facts, conflicts, and resolution.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I thought that they really understood what the film was about. I was relieved that they were drawn into it because of their curiosity about the artists, what they think, and how they work.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I knew when I first met the twins that I would like to make a film, not about them, but with them. After several years one of them sent me a storyboard for a fiction film that she wanted to make. And then I suddenly could see what we could do. I wanted to make a non-fiction film with a fictional substory.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
When I grew up, I watched The Wizard of Oz every year.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I am impressed by how your festival is designed to allow films to be seen by many people. As a filmmaker, above all I want people to see the films I make. It is nice when it can be in person, but it is possible to reach many more people using the techniques that your festival uses.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
I am very impressed by FilmFreeway. They have done an amazing job of making festivals accessible to filmmakers. It used to be so complicated and difficult. I also think they are honest.
10. What is your favorite meal?
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I am scouting for a new subject but don’t have one yet.