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What was it like working with director Saeed Mayahy on such a personal film? 

Working with director Saeed Mayahy on our personal film was truly a remarkable and unforgettable experience. From the moment I met Saeed, I could sense his passion for the project and his dedication to bringing our shared vision to life. What made the experience even more special was the fact that Saeed and I were not just collaborators, but also neighbors, which allowed us to spend a lot of time together both on and off the set.

The close proximity of our living spaces meant that we had the opportunity to engage in spontaneous discussions about the film, brainstorm ideas, and delve deep into the intricacies of the characters and the story. These casual interactions played a pivotal role in shaping the authenticity of the screenplay. It’s often said that genuine connections and mutual trust are essential in filmmaking, and my relationship with Saeed exemplified this sentiment perfectly.

The fact that Saeed and I became friends as well as creative partners created a level of comfort and understanding between us that significantly enriched the filmmaking process. We could openly share our thoughts, emotions, and concerns, allowing for a more profound exploration of the characters and their relationships. This deep connection between us translated into the screenwriting, making the dialogue and interactions between the characters feel remarkably real and heartfelt.

Collaborating with Saeed was not just about making a film; it was about sharing an intimate journey of creativity, vulnerability, and self-discovery. Through our continuous interactions and shared experiences, we developed a strong rapport that reflected in the authenticity of the on-screen relationships. Saeed’s unique perspective and artistic sensibility blended seamlessly with my ideas, resulting in a screenplay that was not only deeply personal but also incredibly genuine.

Working with Saeed Mayahy on our film not only brought us closer together as collaborators but also as friends. The genuine bond we shared was palpable in every scene, making the entire filmmaking process a truly enriching and fulfilling experience. Our friendship and shared vision ultimately became the foundation upon which the film was built, creating a story that resonated with audiences on a profound level.

How is it for you to see in the film the dramatization of your injury that ruined your career in athletics? 

Seeing the dramatization of my injury, which ended my promising athletic career, in the film was undoubtedly a poignant and emotional experience for me. The incident, which occurred when I was just a teenager, was a tragedy that profoundly affected my life. At that time, sports meant everything to me, and my ultimate aspiration was to compete in the Olympic Games. The injury shattered those dreams and left me grappling with a profound sense of loss and uncertainty about my future.

However, with nearly a decade having passed since the car accident, my perspective on the incident has undergone a significant transformation. I now view it as a pivotal moment in my life, a turning point that forced me to confront the harsh realities of life at a young age. Initially, it felt like an unfair blow, robbing me of my passion and the future I had envisioned for myself. But over time, I have come to realize that adversity, no matter how devastating, can be a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery.

The journey of recovery and acceptance taught me invaluable lessons about resilience and the power of the human spirit. I learned that life is unpredictable, and we often encounter situations beyond our control. What truly matters is how we respond to these challenges. It’s about embracing the harsh realities, acknowledging the pain, and then finding the strength within ourselves to move forward.

Acceptance became my key to healing. I accepted that my athletic career had taken an unexpected turn, but I refused to let it define me or dictate my happiness. Instead of dwelling on what I had lost, I started focusing on what I could gain from the experience. This shift in perspective allowed me to explore new avenues and discover untapped potential within myself.

I channeled my determination into adapting to my circumstances. I redirected my passion for sports toward activities that involved more upper body movement, finding solace and purpose in these new pursuits. Through this process, I discovered resilience I never knew I had and a newfound appreciation for the vast opportunities life presents, even in the face of adversity.

In the film, witnessing the dramatization of my injury served as a reminder of the strength I found within myself during that challenging period. It reinforced the idea that life’s hardships, though painful, can ultimately shape us into stronger, more compassionate individuals. While the experience was undoubtedly difficult, it became a stepping stone for my personal growth, teaching me the importance of embracing change and finding new meaning and purpose in life’s unexpected twists and turns.

What is it like to compete in the Olympic Games for the Iranian team? What does it feel like to be a successful athlete? 

Competing in the Olympic Games as a member of the Iranian team is undoubtedly a dream come true and a profoundly satisfying experience. The sheer magnitude of being in the same arena as your heroes is awe-inspiring, fueling a sense of pride and accomplishment. However, the reality for Iranian athletes, especially women, is marked by immense challenges that overshadow the glory of competition.

One of the most significant challenges faced by Iranian athletes is the lack of financial support and recognition. Unlike athletes in some other countries, Iranian athletes do not receive significant benefits or insurance for dedicating their lives to their sport. Many athletes find themselves having to cover the majority of their expenses, including travel, coaching, and supplements, out of their own pockets. This financial burden can be overwhelming and adds pressure to an already demanding journey.

For female athletes, additional challenges arise due to strict cultural and governmental regulations. Wearing a full hejab (headscarf) during races is mandatory, causing constant anxiety about it falling off and potentially resulting in disqualification from the team. Moreover, women athletes often face restrictions on their freedom, requiring permission from their fathers or husbands for various aspects of their lives, including traveling abroad for races. This limitation on personal freedom can be stifling and frustrating, especially as female athletes strive to excel in their chosen sports.

As female athletes age and approach their thirties, societal pressures intensify. Questions about marriage and family planning become prevalent, with many wondering why these women are dedicating their time and energy to sports instead of fulfilling traditional societal expectations. This societal scrutiny adds emotional strain to the already challenging life of an athlete, making it even more difficult to pursue their passion with unwavering focus.

Despite these hardships, Iranian athletes, driven by their passion for their sport, continue to persevere. Their dedication and determination shine through as they navigate a complex landscape, striving to achieve success against all odds. Being a successful athlete in Iran is not just about physical prowess; it requires immense resilience, mental strength, and unwavering determination to overcome societal and cultural obstacles. It is a testament to the human spirit’s ability to triumph in the face of adversity, showcasing the true essence of what it means to be a remarkable athlete.

What is your life like now?

At the moment, my life is a bustling mix of academics, athletic pursuits, and a passion for modeling. My primary focus is on my education, where I am diligently working towards my goal of getting into med school. The journey to becoming a medical professional is both challenging and rewarding, requiring hours of dedicated study, practical application, and a deep passion for the field of medicine. Each day is filled with lectures, laboratory work, and extensive research, as I strive to excel in my studies and prepare myself for the rigors of medical school.

In addition to my academic endeavors, I am wholeheartedly committed to pursuing my passion for canoeing. I have set my sights on joining the prestigious Canadian national team, a dream that fuels my training sessions. My days are often structured around intense workouts, refining my technique, and building my physical endurance. The thrill of gliding through the water, the sound of paddles slicing through the waves, and the rush of adrenaline as I compete against the best are experiences that drive me to push my limits and achieve my athletic goals.

On top of my academic and sporting commitments, I have found a creative outlet and part-time job in the world of modeling. I thoroughly enjoy the process of expressing myself through photography, fashion, and artistic collaborations. Modeling allows me to explore my creativity, boost my confidence, and connect with a diverse range of people within the industry. Balancing my academic pursuits, athletic training, and modeling gigs can be demanding, but the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment I derive from each of these activities makes the juggling act worthwhile.

In essence, my life right now is a dynamic blend of education, athletic pursuits, and artistic expression. Each day presents new challenges and opportunities, and I embrace them with a spirit of curiosity and dedication, driven by the pursuit of my dreams and the desire to make a meaningful impact in the world.