“Cinematic language is a very beautiful way to tell stories to people and give them knowledge of different things, including culture”: Hassan Nazer on Winners
Hassan Nazer’s Winners reimagines facts of the director’s experience as a kid growing up in Iran in a warmhearted ode to cinema itself. It follows film-obsessed Afghan refugee Yahya (Parsa Maghami), who stumbles across a misplaced Oscar statue while hunting through the local dump for something of value, and makes it his mission to return it to it rightful owner. Brimming with charm and authenticity, there’s no wonder this cross-cultural delight of a movie has picked up a variety of accolades, from the Audience Award at the 2022 Edinburgh International Film Festival to Best UK Feature Award at the 2022 Raindance Film Festival and the 2022 BIFA Raindance Discovery Award.
The Upcoming had a lovely chat with the filmmaker about how his background as an Iranian refugee in Scotland informed the partially autobiographical story, and how it’s as much a love letter to the magic of cinema itself (with lots of nods and references to film and filmmakers) as it is about his childhood. We also discussed the challenges of shooting in Iran in difficult locations and extreme heat, and casting and working with non-professional young actors. He further shared the significance and aptness of his film being the UK’s official international submission to the Oscars and how cinema can be a site of dialogue and cross-cultural exchange, which is particularly crucial given the hostile environment being fostered by the current UK government.
Winners is released in select cinemas on 17th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for Winners here: