German-American director Till Schauder presented his latest documentary – The Iran Job – at the Berlinale Film Festival.
The project, which was filmed secretly with a virtually non-existent budget, follows US pro basketball player Kevin Sheppard, who signed on to play for Iranian Super League team AS Shiraz in 2008.
Till Schauder said: “That means that the whole movie was done under the radar – of course technically that was difficult, I had no sound man, I had to improvise a lot but in the end it had a positive impact on the film because I had a much more intimate direct approach to the characters in the film.”
The filmmaker launched a crowdfunding campaign that raised nearly three quarters of a million euros to complete the film.
While Kevin tried to separate sport from politics, he found in Iran that was impossible.
Till Schauder said: “From social to the cultural experiences, everything was different than he expected – what he remarked on first was that people welcomed him with open arms, amazingly warm, with hospitality – he did not feel any racism because he is black whatsoever.”
Kevin meets three outspoken Iranian women, who turn his apartment into a sort of oasis of free speech. One – sports physiotherapist Hilda – became friends with Kevin and today lives in London, unable to return to Iran. She said: “I actually prefer not to talk about it much but all I can say is: I can’t go back.”
Critically acclaimed, the documentary is on limited release in the US and is also available on Netflix.