We Must Be Dreamers: Diary of an artistic journey in the heart of Rome

We are independent, so we are always dreaming about our films. We must be dreamers. We must dream about our works and our dreams. These are Hesam Sharifi’s words, the director of the Short film Zaqqum, The Tree Of Hell, at the Rome Prisma Film Awards final ceremony.

The last event of the Rome Prisma Film Awards was held on the 27th of July. So, the 2023 edition of the festival has been concluded through this International event at Cinema Farnese, in heart of the Rome. Zaqqum The Tree Of Hell, a short film written and directed by Hesam Sharifi, produced by Parandeh Alaei, and with original music by Hadi Farahmand, has won the award for BEST MOVIE POSTER at The Festival. The movie was among the Finalists for the Best Short Film competition in October 2022.

The director explains the film: It must be hard to make an independent film in Iran. And it’s even harder to broadcast an avant-garde film in this new era. But it was me who did it with a group of hard-working people! (Hesam Sharifi continues): Zaqqum, The Tree Of Hell is a short film inspired by three masterpieces with three different styles in the history of visual art. The film pictures a clear image of the Iranian new generation, those who live for a slice of bread in this hellish age of the country. Maybe some people didn’t believe in the blackness of our times, or perhaps they didn’t consider a Middle Eastern Experimental film that adapted from classical paintings(!) But it was important for the Rome Prisma Film Award. Rome, the city of cinema, stands in front of Hollywood in the history of the seventh art. Rome, the city of RosselliniLeoneElio Petri, and many others. It was amazing, absolutely amazing, The Rome Prisma event night. In the rainy weather of Rome. And in the company of directors and filmmakers from all over the world. In a historical cinema hall, where a photo of the legendary Sophia Loren was on the wall. During the night, we watched films, drank with the other artists and talked about the cinema. It was an honor for me to participate in this competition and be with the Prisma staff. I am pleased that the Rome Prisma Film Award honored me and my team with two plaques. To Bright Days, Hesam Sharifi, January 14, 2023

As an avant-garde and experimental short film, the production of Zigguart Multimedia represents the life and thoughts of the bourgeoisie and working class of Iranian society. The people who work so hard and do anything to achieve a better life, but their beliefs are different from what they are. This inconsistency is the hell they live in and feed. Zaqqum, The Tree Of Hell was inspired by three famous paintings in art history: Dante and Virgil in Hell by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, At Eternity’s Gate by Vincent Van Gogh, and Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich. The film reconstructs these Masterpieces in the critical moments of the characters’ lives.
Alpha is a single janitor who sleeps in his car at night. He calls up At Eternity’s Gate in the movie. Omega is a married migrant who works and lives in a building under construction with other workers. He plays The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. They meet each other in an imaginary world, fighting for the vital necessities of life. And they will finally revive Dante and Virgil in Hell together.

The cast is so minimal. Ali Ghamilouie and Alireza Gheydari are the only actors in the film. The original score is composed by Iranian composer Hadi Farahmand. The music is a mixture of different experimentations and techniques such as combination, distortion, and manipulations of the sound. The traditional kind of Electroacoustic Music and Sound Design, but produced by new technologies. The soundtrack, with its aggressive and bizarre nature, reinforces the antagonistic area of the film. Hesam Sharifi, the Iranian Painter, and Filmmaker is the director and writer of the screenplay.

Listen To The Soundtrack On Soundcloud

Rome Prisma Film Awards were founded by Stefano Perletta in 2018 and hosted by Cinema Azzurro Scipioni. In its first year, the festival hosted Silvano Agosti as the President of the jury, a legendary Italian Director who has worked with some of the Greatest Italian professionals like StoraroMorriconePiovani, and many others. Over its second year, the festival has moved to Cinema Dei Piccoli, one of the oldest movie theaters in Rome in the heart of Villa Borghese Park since 1934. The past winning films in the festival have gone all the way to A-tier festivals like the film “May Day” 1st annual awards winner and Oscar-shortlisted film, “Alien“ by Yeon Je-Wang, and “Inanimate” by Lucia Bulgheroni got into Cannes Cinefondation, “Pierdete entre Los Muertos” by Ruben Gutierrez which has showcased into the feature films at Rotterdam Film Festival and many others…Since 2020 the artistic director Marcello Di Trocchio stepped in, creating a series of very popular online screenings on Twitch during the pandemic. In 2021, the festival came back to life at Cinema Farnese, one of the oldest and most prestigious cinemas in the capital of Italy.

Zaqqum, The Tree Of Hell – There is a tree that Springs out of the bottom of hell, called Zaqqum. The inhabitants of the inferno have to eat the fruits of Zaqqum, which makes their bodies tear apart and release bodily fluids as a punishment. The Short Film pictures the daily battle of life between two Sons of Perdition, Alpha and Omega. They fight together every day to achieve something valuable.

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