“I´ve learned a lot from these kids.”

An interview with Mr. Bahman Ghobadi- a producer of “Life on the Border” for the Federal Agency for Civic Education in Germany.

1. You are the producer of LIFE ON THE BORDER.You consulted children and young adults in how to make a film, enabled them to tell and express their stories and experiences. How did you get to know those children and what did you learn from them as a filmmaker as well as a human being?
I went to Iraqi Kurdistan to help with the education of the children from there and when I went to the camps of the refugees I decided to share my knowledge and experience with them. They were growing up not doing anything and their anger was growing with them every day. With the money I raised from the movies before, I bought cameras and started to show them how to make films. I’ve learned a lot from these kids, I learned not to have very big dreams and they took me back to my childhood when we were at war with Iraq and also the war between Iranian government with Iran’s Kurds. Those kids were like my yarn that kept me down to earth like a kite.

Years ago, before I made„Turtles Can Fly“ I wanted to do something like „Life on the Border“ because I saw many kids who were in pain after the war time in Iraq and Iran.
I always think that destiny has placed kids in the position, they have nothing to do with. That’s why I focused on them. I wanted to show in this project that it is the adults fault that children are in the war situation And that is why it is so important to do something for these kids.
The project appeared in my head because of willing to help, especially for children who during their childhood, the most beautiful and innocent time, experienced the worst human behavior. I knew how important is to show cruelity of war through a kid eyes and I wanted to do it in different way. So I decided to find a group of children, teach them and give them cameras to tell their own stories.

2. Could you tell us something about the idea, the development and the process of this special project? What were liberties, constraints or challenges in this collaborative working process?
The hardest thing about this job was to pay for the teachers and raise money because I asked for help from the Iraq’s government and nobody really cares for the children there. Even the countries who say that want to help, are not trying to help these kids because the only way to help them is when you give them culture, education and a bright future. Another problem was being lost in translation because the Kurds in Iran and Iraq and Syria don’t speak the same language so we had to have a translator for each class. We chose 200 kids out of 2000 kids which were very bright and understanding that I personally never seen kids as smart as them.

3. How did you choose the kids exactly?
My assistants from Kurdistan visited refugee camps and organized meetings with children there. It was not easy to choose the 200 most talented children, because each of them really wanted to take part in the project. We chose the ones that were creative, motivated, willing to share their story. We also took into consideration whether children are open or not afraid of working “in front of the camera”. These was a decisive factors during the selection.

4. For several years now, your production company mij film has been organizing film workshops for young refugees from Iraq. Besides of having a great film to watch in the end like LIFE ON THE BORDER, the process of filming itself becomes very important. What is the special quality and potential of film in this context?
Through this project I wanted to give the opportunity to learn and use the knowledge acquired during the workshop.
On a daily basis, children do not have organized time, they do not learn. In the refugee camps, are missinig not only textbooks, notebooks and writing tools, but also very basic things like warm clothes or blankets.
Whole realization time of “Life on the Border” was a substitute for normality, children were busy and worked hard which had a very big impact on their psyche. Thanks to this documentry children were taken into the world of dreams and forgot about the heaviness of everyday life.
I just can say that they are still continuing to make the second film and hopefully we want to have one film every year from these kids. I’m in USA right now and unfortunately I can’t go back to Iraq because I fear for my life but I still continue to control the classes and the production through phone calls and skype.

5. LIFE ON THE ROAD, the film you just mentioned focusses on the return of the refugees to their homes. Could you tell us a bit more about this project? Are some children from LIFE ON THE BORDER also part of it? And could you tell us a bit more about this project?

Yes, me and other directors and protagonists are in contact because I am still trying to support them in every possible way and because of our new project together. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland we organize film screenings in which small filmmakers take part. This way, children can get a taste of travel and see other places in the world.

Our new project- „Life on the road”, shows other side of the first production and it is focused on the home return of war-torned and displaced children and their family, where relatives and friends have been killed by ISIS. All what they have for the new beginning are ruins of the cities and memory for the names that have not survived this horrible attack.
The special thing about this project isthat even after finding the ruins in their cities, children still want to stay there (even when nothing has been left there), rebuild everything and start again because this is their HOME. Meaning of the place where they lived before the war, is huge for them.

The plot consists of a four episodes each of them is told by different child who direct his/her own film.Yes, some of thechildren are in it but this time there are 4 short films which are 25 minutes each. The film is in the post-production stage.


The original version of the interview is available at: