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PLEASE RISE

A political drama

2022_SHORT FICTION

Please Rise is a political drama about a committee that is formed to choose a new national anthem after a fictional Middle-Eastern dictatorship goes through a revolution. Set in one meeting room, the film shows committee members peacefully arrive at a unanimous choice that is then suspiciously disqualified due to the songwriter’s ties to the previous regime. In a predicative allegory for democracy and a corrupt government system, the committee’s arguments regarding censorship and freedom of speech all prove futile as, with the use of fear and hatred, they are convinced to pick another song. The members leave feeling dejected and having set in motion the downfall of their brand new democracy.

Zar Amir Ebrahimi
as a Poet

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The story is set in current times in a modern Middle-Eastern city. The country in question is a fictional land, with certain similarities to Iran, where a new revolution has taken place and provided the people with their first taste of democracy and choice, thus enhancing the stakes and the pressure to make the right decisions. Though the film will be shot in English, the characters will have noticeable Iranian/Middle-Eastern attributes and accents and the art direction, music, and sound design will be heavily inspired by Iranian art and architecture.

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Through this film, I hope to explore the various personalities and backgrounds that help construct a national identity and the ways in which this concept anifests for those involved. Within the film, the characters symbolize the people that allow a governing body to get away with things, by playing devil’s advocate, by justifying this elimination using espionage and the threat of international enemies, and by letting their fear and their hatred control them.

Edon Rizvanolli
as a Politician

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Antoanella Ungureanu
as a Historian

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Valeriu Andriuta
as a General

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Ivan Goergiev
as a Singer

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Kiana Klysch
as a Composer

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DIRECTOR’S NOTESheida Sheikhha

I was born a little over a decade after the Iranian Revolution; a revolution that my parents and many from their generation fought for and believed in. These days, with upsetting news of Iran becoming a daily occurance, I find myself often asking them “Why?” and the answer is always “This isn’t what we fought for and it wasn’t like this from the beginning”. It appears to me that in 1979, the people fought for change, they fought for freedom, for a fresh start, and over time, bit by bit, they got less and less of what they asked for. That’s where Please Rise came from for me, from the question of “Where does the downfall of a revolution start?”. For the members in this committee, the downfall begins on the day of the film, day 57 after the victory of the revolution, the day in which they give in to the demands of their “democratically elected government” and forfeit their right to a choice out of fear.

For me, as an Iranian, Please Rise is a personal story and I have tried to put a bit of myself, my family, my people, and the people I have encountered in my years of living abroad into the story. It was especially inspirational to write this story in the Czech Republic, a country that, unlike Iran, rightfully takes pride in its Velvet Revolution and joyously celebrates the democracy that came from it. There’s a bit of all of us in these characters. There’s our sorrow as seen in the Poet when she tries to keep fighting and to put aside her resentment towards the past. There’s our optimism in the Historian and her belief that wanting to do good will bring upon good. There’s the Singer symbolizing all artists who have tried to stay away from politics in order to survive in a country consumed by censorship. There’s the Composer acting as the huge number of expats and immigrants a country has and how out of place they feel in this country they’re supposed to be able to call home. There’s bits of us in the General and just how tired he is of the political games that are played. And maybe there’s bits of us in the Politician and his blind following of rules too, more than we care to admit. We all know these characters and I know this story. I feel the need to do it justice; to bring the characters I have lived with, officially for one and a half years and unofficially for all of my life, to the screen.

I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to make films at FAMU and have gained a lot of experience filming stories in Czech, stories that are not necessarily Iranian. With my final project, I hope to bridge this gap, to be inspired by my Iranian roots and to merge it with this more international aspect of the story in order to make it universal. As everyone knows, it’s not easy making political films in Iran. I initially wanted to make something similar to this story as part of my studies in Iran but I was warned against it by my university which was reluctant to have anything even remotely political made. It has been an eye-opening experience to be able to develop this idea under the guidance of FAMU and to be able to think with no limitations. This is a story inspired by Iran but it’s also not just about that. It’s not tied to one government, or to one group of people, it’s tied to power, control, and corruption, something that is evident all across the world. I do not aim to make this film so others can feel glad that they don’t live in Iran, I hope to make this out of respect for democracy and the need to preserve it everywhere.

director Sheida Sheikhha

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Making of

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PLEASE RISE

a short film by Sheida Sheikhha

Director: Sheida Sheikhha Producer: Michal Sikora Director of photography: Bruno Grandino Production manager: Pavel Trochta Production designer: Camila Vieira Costume designer: Arina Taylasheva Art assistant/PA: Leona Kunayova Make up: Hana Čihánková Sound master: Martin Karel Klusoň Boom operator: David Pirochta 1st AD: Xueni Yang 2nd AD: Shen-Hao Yang Continuity: Luca Peres-Bota, Melanya Hamasyan 1st AC: Radim Brunovsky 2nd AC: Valerie Lukomskaia Editor: Samani Estrada Ramos DIT: Radim Tomek, Josef Štěpančík Gaffer: Roger Keist Best Boy: Alessandro Stagno Spark: Riyana Lama Grip: Pavel Klein, Shubham Mhatre Anthem Composer: Barbad Bayat Anthem Singer: Shahb Tolouei BTS Photographer : Jakub Jíra

CAST

Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Ivan Georgiev, Kiana Klysch, Valeriu Andriuta, Edon Rizvanolli, Antoanella Ungureanu, Ashot Mansuryan, Alistair White, Nikolas Kuimcidis, Ivan Gregorovič