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Mahdi Selseleh pursues a career in filmmaking

by Cassandra Bernard

Mahdi Selseleh (photo: Ramin Madani)A young Mahdi Selseleh sits at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown ready to share his story.

Mahdi has just graduated from Colonel Gray High School last June and is already experiencing a professional career in the film industry. He was born in Iran and ever since grade three he has been acting and writing scripts. After moving to PEI in the seventh grade, Mahdi continued with his career in the film industry. 

He recently worked on different movie projects in the United States and scored an amazing gig managing an Iranian actor after working on a project in Iran. “I got offered to work as a third assistant’s director in one of the biggest movie series called Shahrzad Series and he was an actor in this series,” Mahdi explains.

Shahab Hosseini, who is also the major star in the Oscar-nominated film The Salesman and one of this year’s Cannes Film Festival winners for best actor, became great friends with Mahdi.

“It was really awesome. Working with a professional crew is really fun because you get to learn lots of stuff,” says Mahdi. As a young man in the professional world, Mahdi learned everything on his own.

“I started to volunteer to work on different sets doing everything from sound to camera to directing, even transportation. I just wanted to be on set,” he explains. “I learned by watching and experiencing it on my own. I bought a camera and just started filming,” says Mahdi.

The young filmmaker realizes there is a huge difference between the Canadian and Iranian film industries. “There are lots of red lines in Iran, but here you can play around with whatever you have on your mind,” he says. “In Canada, the first thing they ask you is why you are making this film. The last thing they talk about is the money and I love that,” says Mahdi.

However, he still has a true love and connection to Iranian cinema. “They make the best productions, the best films with minimum equipment,” he explains.

The Salesman was nominated for an Oscar this year; however, because of the travel ban in the Unites States the actors and director will not be attending. “No one is going. They told the director, Asghar Farhadi, he could enter the USA under exception, but he said no. He said we are all equal and if no other Iranians can enter, then I do not want to go,” Mahdi explains. He and the rest of the crew will be attending a screening of The Salesman in London on the same date as the Oscars.

Mahdi is very passionate about the social problems genre of film. “The reason I like film is that you can inspire people. They can relate to it. The films I want to make are those kinds that when the movie ends, the audience is still thinking about it,” he says. “I have no room for mistakes and no time to waste. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. Experience it, whether it is good or bad,” he says.

The Salesman will screen at City Cinema in Charlottetown from March 27 to April 1 (times vary). Advance tickets available at citycinema.net

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