Iranian-born Tina’s short film Closer was selected for Sundance, and her production Mother/Country, in which she returned to her mother’s house in Iran, was broadcast on Channel 4. Tina’s first feature, I Am Nasrine, is currently in post-production; thanks to innovative distribution, this portrait of two teenage Iranian refugees will be viewed in schools as part of the citizenship curriculum. Tina also lectures on filmmaking.
What training have you received?
I wanted to be Andy Warhol when I was 14; I went to train as a painter but I collided with video art and 16mm cameras. The stories I wanted to tell were moving and had sound. As a youngster I played hooky in cinemas; in one day I watched ET, Poltergeist, and War Games. I was hooked.
What kind of projects attract you?
I’m interested in viewpoint, power and probably the greatest theme in Hollywood films: The Outsider. Most of my stuff comes from what I am experiencing. The rawness is there on screen and that can only come from having experienced those landscapes yourself. At the moment, I am working on a gangster pic and a film about exonerees from death row; both betrayal and injustice are themes close to my heart.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a director?
Beeban Kidron, my mentor thanks to Guiding Lights, reminded me that ‘nobody knows anything.’ That is good advice. I remember an experienced line producer coming into our offices and looking at our budget, script and ambitions and saying that it ‘wasn’t going to be possible’. Needless-to-say, she didn’t get the job and we have made an incredible film shot in Iran for under £100K…
Tell us the most significant moment in your career so far
Calling wrap on I Am Nasrine. Our hearts have gone into this: our actors, our patrons, and an unstoppable crew. I have loathed and loved it in equal amounts. But I’ve now done it and nothing can take that away. That is a brilliant feeling.
You’ll die happy when…
Now! I’ve lived a good life. Though I’ve had to fight to get things done and it hasn’t been an easy road, I’ve made films that matter and I have been so privileged to teach people and help plant seeds for the future.