Longley, who is invited to participate at the 17th International Documentary Film Festival of Iran, "Cinema Verite," says that journey began in 1991, filming in the Soviet Union with a 16-millimeter camera, leading to his first documentary in Moscow in 1992-93. His notable works include documentaries in Gaza (2001), Iraq (2006), and Afghanistan (2018). Reflecting on the challenges and risks of documenting conflict zones, Longley emphasized the importance of providing an authentic portrayal of the realities faced by communities.


He delved into the transformative power of documentaries, stating, "It forces me to become more brave as a person." Longley emphasized the unique role documentaries play in providing an authentic portrayal of conflict zones, saying, "I must speak out about issues of war and peace. It is my business to speak out about this."


Discussing the impact of social media on storytelling, Longley noted, "We are seeing people recording their reality on their mobile phones and broadcasting it out to the world through social media platforms, completely bypassing traditional mainstream media." He underscored the potential for documentaries to challenge misconceptions, fostering empathy and understanding. Longley suggested that this paradigm shift in storytelling could redefine the essence and impact of documentary filmmaking.


Discussing the role of documentaries in raising awareness about humanitarian crises, Longley highlighted the potential of films to influence public opinion and policy. He pointed out the unique ability of documentaries to offer a deep, immersive understanding of unfamiliar societies and cultures, and the profound impact documentaries can have on shaping global perspectives and promoting a more compassionate and informed world.


“When I was in Gaza, I thought if Americans could see what I'm seeing, it would change their entire view of the world, you know. If people had a clear picture of Gaza, the humanitarian crisis would not exist because people would say we don't tolerate this.” he said.


Longley's presence at Iran's Cinema Verite Festival raised questions about the intersection of art, politics, and international relations. He argued that now, more than ever, bridging understanding between nations is essential, especially when faced with the threat of conflict.


For him, being in Iran was not just about participating in a film festival but also advocating for dialogue and understanding between nations, showcasing his dedication to transcending political boundaries in the pursuit of art and understanding.


In conclusion, James Longley's impactful words at Iran's Cinema Verite Festival showcased not only his artistic prowess but also his unwavering dedication to unveiling truths, promoting empathy, and advocating for a world at peace.

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The 17th International Documentary Film Festival of Iran, "Cinema Verite," under the direction of Mohammad Hamidi Moghadam, takes place from December 18 to 23 at the Charsou Cineplex.


By: Ehsan Padeganeh