“Dog Sweat” is a fictional film about young people fighting to be free in Iran. We shot the film in Tehran illegally and at great personal risk to the cast and crew because we wanted to make an authentic film that shows the surprising fun, drama and irrepressible energy of a rebellious generation.
During film school, I developed a script called “This Modern Love” about Iranians who travel to the Philippines for vacation, that explored how Iranians act on their holidays in foreign countries that have fewer social limitations.
When I was selecting cast and crew for “This Modern Love,” I became friends with a lot of the recent graduates of the film and theater programs. I watched the projects they were making – short, underground films about their lives and their relationships. They weren’t bothering to censor their scripts to get approval from the film board. They did this because they wanted to make films that reflected their lives, even if they knew their films wouldn’t have an audience. Inside Iran, the films wouldn’t be shown because of their un-Islamic content; outside of Iran the festivals were only looking for very particular types of films from Iranian filmmakers.
As we were in pre-production for “This Modern Love,” which would have been filmed with the proper permissions and permits and would have featured well-known Iranian actors, my mother was in a nearly fatal car accident. I dropped everything I was doing and focused on nursing her back to health, first in Iran, then in the United States when she was strong enough to travel.
Once I got back to Iran almost a year later, things had changed – both in the country and in terms of my own feelings.