© Photo provided by Elizabeth Bruneau
TANNAZ HAZEMI was born in Teheran and escaped with her family to Sweden as a refugee. After leaving Sweden, she moved to the States and graduated high school in Chicago. Tannaz has published a book on music with MTV Italy, worked as a freelance journalist and later as on-camera talent for Tele+ and VH1. Most recently, she was accepted to the prestigious and ever-exclusive American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women. She now lives in Brooklyn and continues to write.
Brief intro! Tell us about yourself.
I’m a female filmmaker from Iran who grew up between Sweden and Chicago, then via Europe made it to Brooklyn where I now live, writing screenplays and directing shorts. My work history includes publishing a book on contemporary music, freelance journalist, model, on-camera talent, and for a brief stint I made rings.
What was the inspiration for Before the Bomb?
My best friend when I was 15 had been taken away from her Mother when she was 11 and her story stayed with me into adulthood. Though BTB is fictionalized, the emotions of my friend’s story are there and much of her personality is in the main character Elsa.
Give us a brief overview of your successes with Before the Bomb.
After its world premiere at ÉCU in 2015 the movie went on to win it’s 20th award just yesterday, and has been selected to many more festivals. Including Oscar qualifying Heartland and Huesca, where it won the Audience Award, the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes and the upcoming Kids’ section of Toronto International.
How did you feel when your script was announced a winner in ÉCU’s script competition?
Writing is my first passion so I was delighted. And at that point the script had only won silver and bronze and not yet ‘Best Short Script’, so it was very special to me.
What’s happened with Before the Bomb since you won ÉCU’s short script sector?
Winning the screenplay contest at ÉCU validated the movie immensely as we started our Kickstarter campaign, and people came out of the woodworks asking to read it, which was nice.
How does it feel to have Before the Bomb gain the traction that it has?
I feel exhausted :) It’s been a long ride but I am very grateful.
Describe yourself as a creative. What about you makes you do what you do?
I think being creative is a sort of itch in people. I have had periods when I’m not writing and I tell myself that it’s ok, that I’m relaxing, or that I need a break, but I very quickly feel annoyed. Then I start writing something and all is well in my world again.
What was your track record like in terms of successful productions? Has success come easy to you thus far?
Success has not come easy at all, and I’m still reluctant to define what success means. Prior to BTB I made movies that were smaller, more specific, not really accessible, and I didn’t receive any accolades for them. At the moment success to me means receiving the financing to make another movie.
How would you describe working in creative profession?
It’s like going to the gym. It’s so tiring and you really don’t want to go at all, but you feel so good afterwards it becomes addictive.
Any advice for fellow creatives?
Keep writing. Define your goals. Listen to yourself with one ear and to the critics with the other.