Meet the Filmmaker: Caveh Zahedi (“The Sheik and I”)

Commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial to make a film about “art as a subversive act”, Caveh Zahedi (I am a Sex Addict) is given full artistic license with the exception of making fun of the Sheik of Sharjah-which he does just that. Zahedi challenges what we think of as “subversive” and creates the provocative and darkly amusing The Sheik and I, that he could face a fatwah for.

Zahedi sits down with Rooftop Films to discuss his latest film, screening Thursday, June 7 at Automotive High School. Zahedi will be at the screening for a Q and A session to answer all of your burning questions.

Rooftop Films: The first Q&A session at SXSW for The Sheik and I was interesting to say the least with people concerned about a backlash the film could receive based on its controversial subject matter. Since the US is your home, how do you think the audience here in New York will receive the film?

Caveh Zahedi: The film tends to divide audiences. The PC police live everywhere. I can’t imagine the New York audience being significantly different than the Austin audience.

RF: Have you spoken with Rasha or any of the curators from the Sharjah Art Foundation since the film premiered at SXSW? If so, what are their thoughts about the NY premiere and will any of them come?

CZ: I’ve tried to contact Rasha, the curator who originally commissioned the film, but she refuses to speak to me. Haig, the other curator, is speaking to me but he’s not exactly my BFF at the moment so I seriously doubt he’ll be attending the NY premiere of the film.

RF: What are some of your distribution goals for the film, that is, if you can reveal them?

CZ: I’d really like Stephen Colbert to see it.

RF: What are some of your up-and-coming projects?

CZ: There are several, but the one with the best title is called Bin Laden’s Porn.

RF: We usually ask filmmakers about the biggest obstacles they faced while filming, but your cinema verite-style of filmmaking makes those obstacles well-known to the audience. So we’re going to ask you what your easiest and most rewarding moments were while filming The Sheik and I.

CZ: The scene of kids dancing that I’ve been told could get me killed was super-fun to shoot. The kids loved doing it and it was a joy to see them so happy. It’s one of life’s many ironies that the most joyful scene to shoot is of course the one that’s going to piss the most people off.