Soon in the Theaters : "
The Keeper : The Legend of Omar Khayyam "
By: Darius Kadivar
When I first met film director producer Kayvan Mashayekh nearly two
years ago it was in the early summer of 2003. He was transiting into
Paris before heading on a trip to Turkey to meet potential film production
companies and crew members before going to Bukhara and Samarkand, Uzbekistan
to start shooting his first location scouting of what was to be an epic
film set in 11th century Persia on the life and times of the famed epicurean
Poet Omar Khayyam.
" Khayyam was one of my father's favourite poets " he told
me. " The film is in a way a tribute to him, he passed away a few
years ago and I feel it was my way of paying homage to a past which
has contributed so greatly to my duality as an Iranian American. Before
my father passed away from cancer 11 years ago, he cherished the moments
when he could impart his wisdom and experience in life through poetry."
No film can be accomplished if one does not have some personal emotional
involvement in the project. It requires a mixture of utopia in making
it come true and a great deal of realism because it involves money and
a collective collaboration of technicians, decorators and actors just
to name a few. In the case of an epic film it requires an army of technicians
However Kayvan and his film are a living proof to all aspiring young
directors that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself and
your vision. An admirer of Stanley Kubrick, Mashayekh's film shares
some of the American director's aesthetics in the way he films the courtrooms
and throne room of Persian King Malik Shah (Moritz Bleibtreu from "
Run Lola Run "). Bathing his subjects in candlelight, Mashayekh
aspired to bring a sense of realism from a time and place Persians are
passionate about when they discuss their history to others. When he
shows Omar Khayyam ( Bruno Lastra) wandering helplessly through the
battlefields which are reminiscent of some of the highlights in Kubrick's
Historical epics such as " Barry Lyndon " or " Spartacus.
", one can get a glimpse of the impact of the masters of film that
Kayvan was influenced by.
Now two years later on the eve of NowRuz ,the Persian New Year, Mashayekh
and I meet again in the " Cafe Deux Magots " in the beautiful
area of Saint Germain des Pres. The film is completed and with worries
of post production behind, Mashayekh can contemplate with some philosophy
his work : " It was a brutally challenging experience, but as my
father taught me long ago, Love is Sacrifice....if you love something
strongly and deeply enough you have to sacrifice everything to get it...then
and only then will it be worth it for you regardless of whether or not
you succeed in the eyes of others. "
Mashayekh directs Hollywood
Legend Vanessa Redgrave on the set of the Keeper
He continued by adding " One of my goals in making
this film shot on three continents (the US, Great Britain, and Uzbekistan)
was to show that Khayyam's philosophy of tolerance and humanity are
vivid lessons to be followed in our post 9/11 world. I wanted to show
that in the equally religiously intolerant 11th Century Persia, peaceloving
and tolerant people like Khayyam existed who contributed so much in
shaping Persian literature. Subsequent positive Western perceptions
of our land and culture may be traced to the Rubaiyat's translations.
Also the choice of the Title " the Keeper " is to say that
everyone in his or her life is The Keeper of a Story that really means
something to its owner. In my film it is a young Iranian boy who discovers
that his ancestor is the Legendary Persian Poet and who as the story
unfolds will try to learn more about his life and times in order to
perpetuate his legend "
It should be noted that Mashayekh's film is an entirely independent
film, all the more remarkable that it is of an Epic Nature. Starring
an International cast including Academy Award Winner and legendary British
film Star Vanessa Redgrave (Julia, The Gathering Storm, Howards End,
Girl, Interrupted, Mrs. Dalloway, Blow Up, Yanks), Croatian Rade Serbedzija
(Mission Impossible, Eyes Wide Shut, Space Cowboys, Snatch,The Quiet
American, Batman begins) and a new generation of young promising actors
such as Bruno Lastra, Christopher Simpson, and Maria Espinosa, and new
comer Adam Echahly as the little boy from the modern day in search of
his ancestral roots. Iranian Pop Star Andy Madadian, Shani Rigsbee and
actor Darius Irannejat also have small cameos.
Noticed last year at the Cannes Film Market " The Keeper "
is due in the summer starting in Los Angeles in June for its Limited
US release before being launched in Europe.
An edition of Khayyams Quatrains. Published
by Bernard Quaritch in London in 1872. Bound by Sangorski and Sutcliffe
of London. A similar edition and binding is thought to have sunk with
Mashayekh was on his way to London to meet with the owner
of the famous 100 year old bookbinding store, Sangorski and Sutcliffe
for a cross promotional campaign of awareness for the most famous binding
the store is known for around the world. " The Great Omar "
was the most exquisite and priceless edition of the Rubaiyat which,
bejeweled with 1059 precious and semi-precious stones and took two years
to bind in 1911. It was lost on the Titanic in 1912 as it was being
transported to America.
Mashayekh and I parted at the Cafe des " Deux Magots
" fingers crossed promising to meet again to talk about his other
film projects which he hopes will include a Comedy as well as another