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Elisabeth Bartlett is blogging the festival scene from Cannes to Los Angeles.
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Samira Makhmalbaf and father Mohsen Speak about Continuation of "Two- Legged Horse"

Previous Palme d'Or winner, director Samira Makmalbaf and her father Mohsen gave a Press Conference in Cannes late Friday afternoon to discuss the future of their next film, "Two -Legged Horse." Production for the film, Samira's first in five years, was stopped suddenly after March 28 of this year when a deliberate bomb attack occurred on set in Afghanistan.

Fifteen percent of the footage is done, but it is unknown when the shooting will recommence, one reason being that people who were involved in production are now hesitant to contribute after this attack -that injured six people and killed one horse. Since much of the shrapnel went into the horse, if it  weren't for him many others would have died, perhaps a presence of twist of fate. "I wished for the horse to die sooner rather than later and it did, it died right away," Samira said, in a soft, clear voice through careful english

The attack, a bomb thrown from the rooftop of a nearby building by someone who made it into the production area as an extra, was believed to be a deliberate attack on the Makhmalbaf family. Although cameras were rolling at the time the bomb was thrown, the criminal is still unknown.

One reason the shooting was taking place in Afghanistan and not in Iran, the Makhmalbafs' home country, is that Iran refused to let the Makhmalbaf Family shoot there. "I try to make a film there, and they said OK your script is beautiful but we have problems with your family," Samira said, softspoken though impassioned. Although Samira wants to make films in Iran, her father disagrees. "My father says I belong to cinema now, but I still feel like I belong to my homeland," she explained. " I don't know, maybe he is my future and maybe I am his past."

For safety, the Makhmalbafs would rather not say where or when the shooting will eventually recommence, although, the shooting must go on soon. "We have to do it fast because there are small children acting who will grow and change," said Mohsen, occasionally pausing to check with his daughter for the right english words as he spoke.

While watching the father daughter team speak, one thing was clear: the film will be impressive. Samira, whose father sent her the script, had a very strong attraction to it. "I tried to finish it and had to stop reading because it was so hard and then I thought, maybe it's so real in my mind that I can't face it," Samira said, dark eyes vivid and words clear. "I felt a lot of faith, a lot of love about this script, and then I thought; maybe I came to cinema to make this movie." Samira also spoke about her interpretation of the script. "The soul of this movie was so strange, I was so prepared for it. I asked the soul of the movie 'do you want to be born or not?' Really it was like this," she assured the 20 or so journalists in the audience. "And if I decided I didn't want it to be born, it wanted to."

Despite the dangerous and serious attack, production will indeed continue, and, both spoke with passion about why. "I feel like we are suffering a lot from life, and I think cinema can change the way we think," Samira said slowly with a driven, compassionate look on her face. "Life is so empty and we fill it with things and film is the only thing I have to fill it with," she added.

Mohsen added a more global point of view. "In Afghanistan so many people are dead from wars. Ten percent of one nation is dead. Things are very different there than here, you will see that people are moving by donkey and by horse; education is weak, there are a lot of poor people," Mohsen said ,creating a visual that strongly clashed that of the press conference, which took place in the sunny poolside garden of Residence All Suites in Cannes. "I thought I can do something for my heart and for my friends without a debt; when I came out from prison [he spent 5 years there] I decided to make art, to change the minds of my nation."

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Bartlett Elisabeth
Blogging about the festival scene from Los Angeles

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