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© 2019 by Pirooz Kalayeh

Day 21: Sometimes I Dream in Farsi

June 23, 2018

I didn't think I'd be emotional again.

Aaron even pulled me aside before we started and wondered what could potentially be achieved by shooting in yet another barbershop. 

 

"What do we hope to achieve?" he asked.

 

This was a good question. I knew that having Ray Haratian and Kevin Ramsey doing interviews was important, and I said so, but I also heard Aaron's concerns. We were about to go into an uncontrolled environment, with potential sound issues -- while the establishment was open -- hoping that all the actors would show and do what we could call a dramatic re-enactment, but it wasn't exactly that either. 

"Are you doing psychodramas?" Noah Cicero asked me in a text, referencing how I had him speak to me while I played being nine years old, sitting on the floor.

 

The truth was I didn't know. 

 

"We're basically anti-acting," I explained to the actors later -- once we got to the hair salon.

 

This is after we had already done the re-enactment. It didn't even feel like acting. I talked out my memory of the traumatic incident: "The barber went for scissors, and then he stood by me -- right behind me. "Then, he put his hand on my shoulder."

"Is this before you spoke to your father in Farsi?" Forrest Lancaster asked, playing the barber, and putting his hand on my shoulder, as I was talking it out in real time. 

 

"No, your hand goes on my shoulder first," I said. "Then my father talks to me in Farsi."

"What does he say?" Ray asks. 

 

"He tells me to be quiet, because I'm trying to say how I want my hair cut in a fancy way."

 

"Saket basheh," Ray says in Farsi.

As all this is going on, Kevin is watching it all unfold. Then he begins questioning, helping me find what else is there.

 

"Why do you think your father told you that?" he asked.

 

Slowly, we evolved from the motion of the whole movement of the re-enactment into this natural flow of us talking about the experience and how that affected each person in different ways. 

"I wanted to act very differently," Ray said. "If it were me, and the barber told my child to get out, I wouldn't be so calm."

 

"Why do you think your father took that approach to do a sit-in?" Kevin asked.

 

"That was who he was," I said. "Every moment was an opportunity to show oneself and be a warrior."

"What is it to be a warrior?" Kevin continued.

 

"I suppose for him," I said, "it was being present and ready to stand for action in every moment. It's not letting anyone bully you and standing up to injustice."

Later, we moved into talking about how the film and exercise were allowing men to express their feminine sides, which was not encouraged by any of our fathers, or any of the men we knew. This lead us into a discussion about the #MeToo Movement, and the shifting evolution that came about by standing up to inequalities. 

 

The conversation then moved into another gear, as Forrest wanted to use the inclusive "we" when talking about race, but felt strange about saying it being white himself.

 

"It is a 'we'," I told him. "It's about all of us."

 

"There is no way people begin like that barber when they're born," Kevin said, referencing how things are taught, but also going deeper into the idea of how a person can be dehumanized, and it is in that imbalance that the wound is inflicted. 

 

The whole thing ended with me talking a bit about how we were standing up to bullies and being warriors by making this film and having these discussions, and that the best way to fight injustice was to stand to up to it and express when things were out of balance. 

 

"Always speak your truth," I said. "This is what my father and I talked about on the phone the other day. That you don't need to be angry about expressing what's wrong, but just make it clear something isn't appropriate. And, most of that, is just treating everyone like they're human."

 

After everything, the owners of the hair accessories shop out front, came over, wanting to talk about the film. I knew one of them was Iranian, but it ended up being a whole family, and I had to use my Farsi with the mother, who only spoke Farsi, while repeating myself in English half the time for hopes that the others might pass on what I couldn't remember how to say in Farsi. 

 

"This is a good story," the father said.

 

I'm not sure how this portion of the film will transpire. I did ask Aaron to shoot the re-enactment slower -- to give it that other worldly feel, but also to have audio not be an issue, since there were so many moving elements. 

 

"I'll shoot it 30% slower. That'll give it a different feel."

 

In my mind, I could see the film. Its different portions being linked by a voice-over at times. Maybe me saying: "I had a dream that we would shoot this scene and what happened," and then this scene begins. 

 

I'm not sure.

 

"You need to apply for that Sundance grant," Aaron told me, as we were packing up.

 

"Okay," I said.

 

I felt like waiting until I had a rough edit would help our chances, but Aaron wanted the money to come through faster so we could hire an editor from the get-go. He wanted them to edit and me to set-up the structure.

 

"You don't need to edit," he said. 

 

I feel like I might need to edit a foundation  before handing things over. I'm not sure, to be honest. The film is so personal and the interweaving voice-overs and transitions to archival moments need to be mapped out at least as an outline before an editor would know what I'm seeing in my head. 

 

I suppose I'll start outlining, editing, or both on Monday. 

 

Oh, good news! We were officially given non-fiscal sponsorship by the International Documentary Association. This means you can make tax-deductible donations, because we're now officially a non-profit through them, so individuals or corporations can make donations through this link

 

I'll talk more about how I feel and have changed since this experience in a few days. 

This is Yanni. She has been cutting my hair at Vous Salon on Melrose since 2005. She's an amazing stylist. All are welcome.

 

VOUS SALON, 7621 Melrose Avenue, (323) 653-5032

 

 

 

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