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National Film Board offers free streaming of “Two Apples” by Coquitlam animator Bahram Javahery

Bahram Javahery
Bahram Javahery, behind the scenes of "Two Apples", working on the character designs.

Fifty years ago, Bahram Javahery made his first animated film. At the time, he was only 14 years old and living in Iran. For the  Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province–born filmmaker, it ignited a lifelong love of this artform.

Javahery went on to graduate from the Tehran University of Art and later earned a master’s degree in animation. While living in Iran, he created the animated shorts “A Dream of Flying”, “Safety Pin’s City”, “Zhina’s Dream”, and “The Flower, Bird and the Sun”. In addition, Javahery directed an eight-part animated feature called Adventures of Mash Ghorban and His Cow.

In those years, he was also a lecturer at his alma mater, as well as at the Teachers’ Training University and Soureh University.

In 2001, Javahery immigrated to Canada, where he made his first 3-D animated short, “My Earth”. His newest animated short, “Two Apples”, is now available on the National Film Board website, where it’s being streamed for free to mark the upcoming Persian New Year (March 19). It’s about a young woman who leaves her homeland with a single memento: a ripe apple studded with cloves. Known as sêva mêxekrêj, it’s a symbol of cultural exchange and peace, according to the NFB.

The film was produced by Teri Snelgrove and Shirley Vercruysse. It premiered at the 2023 Vancouver International Film Festival last October.

Last year, the National Film Board posted an interview with Javahery on its website, which you can read below.

Javahery
Director Bahram Javahery uses the play of light and shadow to fashion a sense of fluid movement featured in “Two Apples”. Image courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.

Javahery in his own words

National Film Board: What was your initial inspiration for the film?

Bahram Javahery: As an artist, I create art based on my experience. My family and I immigrated to Canada from Iran in 2001. Being an immigrant is a complicated experience with many highs and lows. I wanted to explore this experience—leaving my home, choosing to come to Canada, and rebuilding a life here with my family—in “Two Apples”. In the film, the main character is a young woman named Gina. Like many immigrants arriving in Canada, she leaves her home in search of a better future while remaining deeply connected to her homeland and her loved ones still living there.

NFB: How did you develop the animation technique for this film?

Bahram Javahery: Technique is central to all of my work. Throughout my career as an animator in Iran, I developed different animation techniques for each of my movies. Sometimes I come up with the technique before the story, sometimes the story comes before the technique. There is always a back and forth.

In “Two Apples”, I wanted to create a fluid and immersive experience. Clay was a good option because of its earthy look and its malleability. I ended up building a custom animation rig that would allow me to individually carve each 2D frame in clay while lighting it in a way that created a negative and positive space.

Culture becomes a layer of the work

NFB: Could you talk about the role that your own cultural heritage played in the making of the film?

Bahram Javahery: We cannot be separated from our culture, it is inside us. For an artist, this becomes a layer in our work. Some aspects are invisible and nobody notices them, even the artist themselves. Others are not; for example, in the film there is the use of important Kurdish symbols such as the clove apple. In my culture, clove apples are symbols of peace and love. In this film, they represent the power of cultural exchange.

I also decided to include a zoetrope. Did you know that the zoetrope in the film was inspired by a 5,200-year-old earthenware goblet made in the Bronze Age? It was discovered in southeastern Iran, and it depicts a series of sequential drawings of a goat eating the leaves off a tree. I wanted to showcase this important symbol of the history of animation in Iran.

NFB: What would you most like audiences to take away from the film?

Bahram Javahery: The thing that makes Canada so beautiful is that it is home for so many different communities and cultures. However, being an immigrant is not easy. I wanted to reflect on and share these complicated feelings and experiences in “Two Apples”.

Watch a clip from “Two Apples”.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.