Over Labor Day Weekend 2018, the lovely and talented Niousha Noor called to inquire if I could speak Farsi. There's a film, she told me, that stars Shahab Hosseini (of Oscar-winning The Salesman and A Separation fame), and they're in need of a nonnative Persian speaker--could I do such a thing? I told her I had no idea if I could, but I would do my best.
The next day, I met Shahab with director Kourosh Ahari, and despite what I can only imagine were Kourosh’s reservations about hiring a completely non-Farsi speaking actor for a series of loosely improvised, overnight shoots (yes, you read that correctly), Shahab thought my accent was endearing, and the next night we found ourselves on set together.
Making The Night counts as the second most incredible acting experience I’ve had in Los Angeles (the first being the next movie we made in 2019 with Shahab as director) because I was truly forced to be in the moment. I did not know the other lines—I hadn’t even heard them yet in Farsi! I only knew my lines, which had been patiently read to me by Kourosh’s lovely wife, and the rough number of exchanges that occurred before I spoke. I managed to mangle one line so badly that they gave up and had me say it in English. I hope at least that my accidentally saying penis over and over again gave the actual Farsi speakers a good laugh and not a heart attack.
We celebrated the US premiere of the film on Jan. 18th at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. This is a genuinely scary, delicately acted, beautifully shot film with terrifying score. Having never read the full script (still working on my Farsi) and acting only in the opening scene, I didn’t really know the events that would transpire in the plot. What a thrill to watch this piece as a fresh pair of eyes! Kourosh kept me at the edge of my seat from frame one, and the critics agree.
There have been two encore screenings at SBIFF, and I just got word that The Night was selected as the Spotlight Film at Cinequest Film Festival. I have no doubt these are the first of many screenings and accolades for this fabulous film.
Thank you to everyone at Mammoth Pictures for letting this Italian girl become part of your wonderful Persian community. I still don’t speak Farsi, but I’d love to learn more. Considering we’re making another movie this year, I might just get there eventually. Or at least avoid saying penis when I clearly mean something else.