Iran veiled appearances Thierry Michel

Iran has been presented for years as one of the cradles of Muslim fundamentalists, and more recently as one of the Muslim countries most open to world markets. Iran intrigues the West on more than one account.

A college dormitory, a cemetery, a military academy, a drama class, a mosque... such are the places where the director met Iranians in their every-day life: soldiers, religious figures, young people, former soldiers, but also members of reforming movements, students, artists, or intellectuals who often pay a heavy price in their fight for freedom.

“Iran veiled appearances” shows a culturally and socially fractured society. The filmmaker’s eye has viewed the country from many angles and created a multifaceted film, in image of a country where the religious fervour of some contrasts with the desire for freedom of others.
scrip and directed by Thierry Michel
Assistants Delphine Minoui, Davoud Dehghan & Kaveh Hosseini
photography Farsin Khosrowshahi
Sound Bruno Di Liberto
Editing Marine Deleu
Mixing Michel Goossens & Benoît Biral
Comments Thierry Michel
Executive producer Christine Pireaux (Belgique)
Executive producer Les Films de la Passerelle - Christine Pireaux (Belgique), Les Films d’Ici - Serge Lalou (France)
Associate producer RTBF, Télévision Belge - Christiane Philippe - Arlette Zylberberg
coproduction RAI - Silvestro Montanaro - Carla Ronga, ARTE France - Thierry Garrel - Pierre Merle, VRT Canvas - Leo De Bock & Centre de l'Audiovisuel à Bruxelles - Kathleen de Bethune
Produit avec l’aide du Centre du cinéma, de l'audiovisuel de la Communauté française de Belgique et des télédistributeurs wallons
with the help of em> la DGCI, Direction générale de la Coopération Internationale 
with the participation of SVT (Suède) - Olof Dahlberg YLE (Finlande) – Iikka Vehkalahti & Centre National de la Cinématographie (France)
developed and distributed with the support of the MEDIA programme of the European Community Union
avec le soutien de Eurimages - la Procirep - La Loterie Nationale - Sundance Documentary Fund of the Sundance Institute

Feature Documentary- 90' & 58 minutes- 35 mm & BETA Digit
Thierry Michel was born on October 13, 1952, in Charleroi, Belgium, an area known as "The Black Country". At 16 he studied cinema at the Institut des Arts et Diffusion in Brussels where he came back to teach cinema. He experienced the last tremors before the students' upheavals which was to be the prelude to political enrolment in the militant and lyrical movements of the time. In 1973, he began to work as a filmmaker at the Belgian Television and realized numerous programmes all over the world. He dedicates his first films "Pays Noir, Pays Rouge" and "Chronique des saisons d'Acier" to the coal basin of his youth and his first fiction feature length "Hiver 60" tells of the insurrectional strikes of 1960.

He alternated documentaries and fiction and managed to bring a camera inside a prison's walls to film "Private Hotel", a poignant hymn to liberty at the heart of confinement. After a long quest for his identity and his regional and political origins, Thierry Michel explored other continents and other dreams. The result was his second feature lenth film "Emergency exit", a poetical and mystical work set in the heart of the Moroccan desert which had always attracted him.

He then came back to reality with two very moving pictures, "Kids from Rio" and "From the grass roots" which depicted the street urchins and the favelas of heart-rending Brazil. This was to be his first encounter with the black culture which he studied in-depth in Zaire with "Zaire, the cycle of the serpent", a many award winning film which ruthlessly portrays the ruling class and the rejects of Zaire society.

He made a brief return to Belgium and filmed a Minister at the centre of a political and criminal scandal which has upset all of Belgium: "La grâce perdue d'Alain Van der Biest"; following this he packed his bags once more to investigate the validity of international armed charity with "Aid for Somalia : a losing battle".

A few months later, he sets off for Zaire to shoot "The last colonials" a film on the colonial heritage and the presence of white people and white culture in the country after years of independence. A few days after his arrival, he is arrested, imprisoned and expelled from the country. His equipment is seized, and he finishes his film thanks to his own archives and images from the preliminary shooting. 

He directs "Post-colonial nostalgia", a film on the historical relationship between the Zairian people and white colons during the years of Congo/Zaire's independence. He then sets off for Africa once more, this time to shoot a major work, "Donka, x-ray of an African hospital". This tragic, human and uncompromising portrait of the Conakry hospital in Guinea will win prestigious awards both in Europe and in the United States. 

Thierry Michel pursues his work in the wake of his African experience: following the fall of the Zairian dictator, he starts shooting a historical documentary, somewhat reminiscent of great Shakespearean tragedies: "Mobutu, king of Zaire".

After ten years and seven films made in Africa he goes back to Asia and the Republic of Iran, one of the cradles of Islamic fundamentalism. There he made his latest film "Iran, veiled appearances" in which he paints a portrait of a society that is socially and culturally split. The eye of the film-maker captures the religious fervour of some which contrasts so violently with the desire for freedom of others. After having been selected in major festivals, Thierry Michel has again gleaned numerous international distinctions. 

He then went up the Congo River and once again traveled through Africa’s history, its memory and destiny. "Congo River" is a personal journey to the source and the origin of this country and with it he pursued his quest for light and darkness, being driven by the desire to plunge into the mystery and the depths of the Congolese equatorial forest and its majestic river.

Thierry Michel has an insatiable curiosity and has, for the last twenty years, not stopped filming all the beloved faced that inhabit the "sublime reality" of his camera. "The themes are the same, where you are. Man is the same, whether here or there; life and death are perceived identically. I have yet to stop working".
Namur Festival (Belgium) 2002 - European Documentary Film of creation Festival– Strasbourg (France) 2002 - International documentary film festival Amsterdam (The Netherlands) 2002 - Sundance Film Festival – Salt Lake City (USA) 2003 - FIPA – Biarritz (France) 2003 - Human Rights Watch International Film Festival- San Francisco (USA) 2003 - Fespaco (Burkina Faso) 2003 - Human Rights Watch International Film Festival – London (England) 2003 - Human Rights Watch International Film Festival – Prague (Czech) - DocAviv Tel-Aviv (Israel) 2003 - San Francisco (USA) 2003 - Washington DC (USA) 2003 - MoMA's (New York) USA 2003 - Nashville (USA) 2003 - Munich (Allemagne) 2003 - River Run (USA) 2003 - Film Forum – Freiburg (Germany) 2003 - Résistance (France) 2003 - Sarajevo (Bosnia) 2003 - Festival des Films du Monde – Montréal (Canada)
*Grand Prix of the Festival of the «European Documentary Film of creation» in Strasbourg – France
* Nominated in the Golden Gate Awards in San Francisco – USA *Coq de Cristal : prize awarded by the Parliament of the French Community - Belgium 2002 
* Prize Joseph Plateau – Best Belgian Documentary Film 2001/2002 - Gand, Belgium 
* "Ezio Croci" prize for the Best Film, Filmondo, Milan – Italia 
* Honorary Mention – The Tel-Aviv international documentary film festival – Israel 
30/09/2002 90' SVT Suede
20/11/2002 90' VRT Belgium
04/12/2002 90' RTBF 1 Belgium
08/12/2002 90' RTBF 2 Belgium
12/03/2003 90' Sundance channel USA
12/03/2003 90' YLE2 Finland
26/03/2003 90' Télé Québec Canada
11/05/2003 90' RTSR 2 Switzerland
11/05/2003 90' RTSR 1 Switzerland
1/06/2003 58' VPRO Netherlands
1/07/2003 90' CBC News world Canada
18/09/2003 58' SVT 22h05 Suede
19/12/2003 90' ARTE 17H30 France
30/01/2006 58' RTBF2 13h15 Belgium
Le dessous des cartes : le cauchemar géopolitique de l’Iran 
Les enfants de 1979 : entretien avec Thierry Michel 
16/9e compatible 4/3 
Français stéréo 
Anglais stéréo 
DVD PAL – Zone 2