GAIFF Pro Critics Campus: What Did You Dream Last Night, Parajanov?

English Daily #2
by Clara Cuccaro

Known for his work behind the camera as a cinematographer, Faraz Fesharaki is front and center in his desktop documentary What Did You Dream Last Night, Parajanov? Shot over the course of ten years, the film, which premiered at the 74th Berlinale, is composed almost entirely of Skype recordings between Berlin-based Fesharaki and his parents, Hassan and Mitra, in Isfahan, Iran. Their conversations, which vary in tone, guide the film, revealing a family that has maintained a profound connection despite their generational differences and distance.

Fesharaki breaks his film into various chapters, a loose vignette structure that amplifies the geographical and emotional gulf that separates the director from his parents. At times their conversations become sleepy, but folk songs, poetry, and personal anecdotes invigorate the family despite the pixelated images and the frozen, static shots that threaten their internet connection. Hassan and Mitra slowly emerge as full-rounded humans rather than two-dimensional characters, while Fesharaki functions like the camera he usually wields—somewhat mute, but soaking up everything. Hassan, who jokingly shapeshifts into Abbas Kiarostami at one point, constantly challenges Fesharaki as a filmmaker, while Mitra ponders her role in the Islamic Revolution after a bystander questions its aftermath. “Look at the life you lived and the life you made for us… Why’d you have to revolt and leave us so miserable?” Wisdom and humility transpire from these deeply affecting private conversations that anchor the film’s dreamy narrative, leading What Did You Dream Last Night, Parajanov? into universal territory.