LETTER TO MY MOTHER
Amin Maher/ Islamic Republic of Iran/Germany / 2019 / 20 min
A son pushes at the bounds of his relationship with his mother as he unpicks the psychological consequences of the childhood sexual abuse he suffered.
In a bold and heartfelt cinematic letter to his mother, filmmaker Amin Maher reveals the most painful of childhood secrets. The film explores gender confusion, sexuality, guilt, fantasy and repression in relation with violence and identity. “Letter to my Mother” is a means for survival, a way to stand and speak up and to understand. It is an attempt to break taboos and push boundaries – both social and personal, and to create life and art out of the darkest experiences. There are times when cinema itself seems implicated in this difficult story, charting abuse that began at the exact time he was appearing in Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten (2002) which featured the real-life relationship between his mother and Amin.
Content Warning: depictions of childhood sexual abuse
Director Biography – Amin Maher
Amin Maher (b. Tehran, 1992) is an Iranian queer filmmaker and poet whose works deal with the themes of gender and sexuality in relation to violence and identity. Maher began his cinematic activity as the main actor in Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten (2002) which featured the real-life relationship between his mother and Amin. Ten was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film festival in 2002 and received worldwide attention. Four years after that, Maher performed the main role in Mania Akbari’s 10+4 (2006), a continuation of the movie “Ten” which followed Akbari’s battle with breast cancer. “10+4” screened at Cannes International Film Festival and San Sebastián International Film Festival amongst many other festivals and received critical praise. Afterwards, Maher followed his film activities as an actor, editor and assistant director with his mother, Mania Akbari on “6 Video Arts” and “From Tehran to London” which participated in festivals such as Edinburgh International Film Festival in UK and International Film Festival Rotterdam in Netherlands.
In 2010, Maher began studying at Tehran University before being arrested for his political activities. He subsequently left Iran to study filmmaking at Limkokwing University in Malaysia and directed several short films. His first fictional short film, “Sweet Gin and Cold Wine” was nominated for the best short film at the 21st Oldenburg International Film Festival in Germany and won an award of recognition at the Creative Open International Film Festival (IOFF) in 2016. In November 2019, Maher finished his documentary film, “Letter to my mother” which is stemming from his own experience of childhood sexual abuse. The film was nominated for the Golden Key Award at 36th Kassel Documentary film festival where it had its world/national premiere. The film opens up a cinematic discourse about anger, repression, violence and identity. Letter to my mother was described as a fearless and strong examination that chooses a radically intimate perspective. It is an examination that touches upon the center of the pain and dares to look precisely. It finds exact scenes for despair and cruelty and searches openly for ways of coping.
In 2019, Maher edited the feature documentary film, “A moon for my father” directed by Mania Akbari and Douglas White. The Guardian chose the film as one of the top 10 documentaries of the year 2019. Maher is currently studying for his MA in Directing (Regie) at Konrad Wolf Film University of Babelsberg and working on a documentary feature film, “Libido” which was selected at CPH:FORUM, Copenhagen International Documentary Festival in 2019.