Maryam Farahzadi: Making the World a Friendly Place

I am Maryam Farahzadi an MFA candidate of Animation at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York and hold a Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design from the University of Tehran in Iran. I was an animator and character designer in Pouya Animation Studio for about five years in Iran and worked on several projects for TV animation series for children and adults. Right now I’m working as an Animation Artist at CreatorUp in Los Angeles.

The Role of Each Fret

My adventure in filmmaking started with writing, directing, and producing my first short animation The Role of Each Fret in 2013. The film is based on a poem from Hafiz, a famous Persian poet. The story is about the union of a couple in love by getting assistance from a joint effort of music and nature performed in Persian miniatures from ancient Iran/Persia. Persian miniatures inspired me, hence I decided to bring them to life using a technique called “digital cut-out animation,” which received much praise from my peer painters, artists, and filmmakers. The Role of Each Fret has won the first prize of Farhang Film Festival in Los Angeles, the second prize from the Roshd International Film Festival, and four more awards from national and international film festivals and has been showcased in more than 35 film festivals internationally. I am honored to see how this short movie influenced many of my peers to create similar projects using 2D animation and Persian miniature.

After I moved to the United States, I decided to enroll in a Masters program at RIT. I started to work on my second short animation called Blue as part of “Animation Workshop” class. It began in August of 2017 and took a full semester (4 months) to finish. I wrote the story, created the storyboards, digitized and rigged the characters, and created the final output. I used Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects as primary tools to create the scenes.

Blue wrestles with the societal struggle to accept differences as an asset rather than an unwanted nuisance—inspired by my own experience as an immigrant who came to the USA to pursue my dream in filmmaking. Although my own experience very much influences Blue, I still believe the core message is relatable for others who shared the same challenges. Blue can be the story of immigrants, women, people of color, minorities, and all the people out there who are being excluded or rejected from society.

I intentionally implemented a minimalistic character design and storytelling approach to enable empathy in a broader range of audience. The use of color in this film is precise and symbolic. For example, the blue color defines the main character’s mood and depression. The green color is a symbol of hope and growth. I also used a 2D style with a paper feel to show the world from the character’s point of view which is very simple and may look dull. Blue is about embracing diversity. Through this film I wanted to engage with the audience and offer a different perspective on inclusion; therefore I used colors is a dominant metaphor throughout the film. I hope to induce a positive impact on the mindset of viewers and invite them to make this world a friendly place.

Blue has been screened and awarded in over 30 film festivals worldwide including a Juror’s Award from Act Human Rights Film Festival of Colorado and selected winner at CBCF ALC film festival by US Congressman Hank Johnson in 2018.