The Marriage Project
Atieh Attarzadeh / Hesam Eslami
Iran. 2020. 80 min
Encourage the patients from a mental hospital to form relationships with each other, get married and live as a family. That’s the bold new idea of the head of Ehsan House in Southern Tehran. For the past 20 years, its 480 patients have lived in separate male and female units. But in 2017, the head of the centre secured the money to build a new unit of marital facilities. As a selection committee begins evaluating patients, hidden affections come to the surface. Finally, the team selects two patients to form the first couple. Are these two patients capable of having a relationship that leads to marriage?
Atieh Attarzadeh holds a BA and Master in Cinema studies from the University of Tehran as well as a Master in documentary practice at the University of Bristol. She directed three short documentary films, “40 days of pine” (in a mental home – 2016), “17 years old” (2014) and “I am an ordinary woman” (2010). She is also a writer and her works are published at the prestigious Cheshmeh editing house: “Ride the horse in a half of yourself” (2015 – poetry book) and “The guide to dying with herbs” (2016 – novel).
2014 The 17s
2016 Forty days of pine
Hesam Eslami, born in 1982 in Ahwaz, south of Iran, got his BFA and MA in cinema from Tehran University of Art. Since 2009 he started to work as editor and director and made documentaries for TV channels. Juvenile offenders and social damages are the main themes of his work. In 2017 his first feature-length documentary, “20th Circuit Suspects” (six years in the life of an adolescent crime gang that breaks into cars in the streets of Tehran) premiered at Hot Docs. He attended the Berlinale Talent Campus in February 2018 where he presented his latest project on gold searchers in Iran.
2017 20th Circuit Suspects
In our personal life, both of us have been close to mental disorders, having had to hospitalize our closest family members in mental institutions. This is the main reason why mental disorders and the institutionalized lives of suffering patients have become a central focus in our work, leading to short documentaries and educational videos on this subject.
Three years ago, Hesam who had previously spent a year in Ehsan’s house making a short documentary, decided to celebrate his wedding anniversary there, only to create a cheerful evening with the patients. He asked Atieh to capture the event. It turned out to be a trigger for this feature film. That ceremony made us sensitive to the concept of love in such an environment. Few months later we heard that a marriage project was in the air and we went back to the center.