Please Don’t Stop Seeing Me
For German-Iranian Filmmaker Faraz Shariat and Jünglinge, the film production collective behind his multi-award-winning debut film Futur Drei (No Hard Feelings), the question of “where are you from?” is best answered by showing where they are going.
By Daniel Chaffey
Founded by Paulina Lorenz and Faraz Shariat, with fellow student Raquel Molt during their studies in dramatic arts at the University of Hildesheim, Jünglinge is a self-defined collective of filmmakers in their mid-20s raised in the hybrid cultures of post-migrant Germany. Dedicated to the notion that young, European film needs to tell queer, diverse, and most of all, specific stories about growing up and living together in our societies, Shariat describes the collective’s approach to filmmaking as “activist popcorn cinema.” This approach uses the lens of pop culture tropes to present the complex and often untold, and mis- or underrepresented stories and depictions of people of color, and members of the queer and migrant communities in contemporary German film. Ultimately, the collective seeks to restructure the history and representation of these communities through what it describes as an archive of how queer, migrant, and communities of color wish to be seen.
Shariat and Jüglinge's debut feature, Futur Drei, was awarded the prestigious FIRST STEPS award for young filmmakers in 2019 (Best Director, and the Götz George Award for Acting) and premiered at the 2020 Berlinale, where it received not only second place in the festival’s PANORAMA section, but also received the 2020 Teddy Award for Best Queer Film. The film centers on Parvis Zareh (Benjamin Radjaipour), a young, proud and openly gay son of Iranian immigrants, who immerses himself in pop culture, fashion, clubbing, and casual internet sex-dates as a means of escaping the suburban boredom of his home in central Germany. As punishment for shoplifting, he is sent to perform community service in a refugee shelter where he meets and falls in love with Amon (Eidin Seyed Jalali), a young migrant who has fled Iran with his sister Banafshe (Banafshe Hourmazdi). As the three become friends, and Parvis and Amon fall in love with each other, Parvis finds himself caught between the generation of migrants before him, the third generation of newcomers, and the rest of German society.
Written by Shariat and Lorenz, the script blends aspects of Shariat’s own story of a millennial-aged son of Iranian migrant parents who migrated to Germany in the 1970s, who yearns for visibility and representation, with details gained through extensive research and interviews with migrants, people of color, and members queer communities in Germany. These stories and characters drive the film’s narrative, placing these otherwise marginalized communities at the center of the film. Aside from the handful of principal actors, the remaining cast is composed of lay-actors, including Shariat’s parents filling the roles of Parvis’ parents, adding an integral level of intimate authenticity.
Interweaving home video footage from Shariat’s childhood with hyper-stylized visuals, akin to pop music videos, the film also employs classic cinematic strategies such as “breaking the fourth wall,” where characters look directly into the camera, as well as the more square-ish 4:3 ratio that draws characters closer together, and pulls the viewer in creating another level of intimacy. This is best implemented in one culminating scene, where in the middle of an intimate embrace, Amon pauses, looks Parvis in the eyes and says, “Please don’t stop seeing me…” a reference to not only their relationship but an allusion to Amon’s—as well as Parvis’ need to be visible and represented within modern German society.
With a German theatrical release slated for the fall of 2020, Futur Drei is making the rounds through the world-wide film festival circuit. Until the film is widely available, you can view some of Shariat's work, as well as the projects developed by Jünglinge on their respective Vimeo pages.