A Shortfilm By Arian Sanati Ishmael

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Ishmael, a young man who was once going to be sacrificed by his father Abraham, is now searching for his true identity in the contemporary and conservative society of Iran.

Myths and religious stories have always been a source of fascination to me. I believe that some of these stories have been around for so long, that at some point people stopped questioning their strange nature. One of these stories is of Abraham wanting to sacrifice his son Ishmael just to show his devotion to God. (In Christianity, it is Isaac instead of Ishmael. Abraham’s second son.)

In biblical and other sources of religious stories such as Quran, Abraham’s act to go forward with sacrificing his own son just to show his love to God is being praised as courageous. A strong man that puts God first. Even before his own family.

However, I have always wondered: “What about the boy? Will he ever be able to recover from a hardcore trauma such as this? If this happened in a normal world, by a father who is delusional and abusive, would the son be able to overcome the trauma and live on, just as before?”

So, that side of the child’s story was more interesting to me than the biblical story itself. And I did this short film just about that.

Set in the contemporary and hardcore conservative society of Iran, “Ishmael” is about a young but damaged man who leaves his abusive father to pursuit his life as far away as possible from him; not knowing that he will still be haunted by the dark shadow of his father.

  • Drama
  • Mystery
  • Short

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Pre-Production started with writing the script as a part of my Bachelor Project. Although I live in Germany, I had Iran – my homeland – as the filming location in my mind, so I wrote the script accordingly to the sensitive environment of Islamic Republic of Iran, specially due to the critical religious background of my film, which is considered to be an absolute NO-GO topic in Iran.

Production started upon finishing the final draft and sketching the storyboard, as I contacted a production manager based in Iran. After that I flew to Iran for casting and location scouting. Location scouting proved to be rather difficult as I was searching for a remote cabin in the middle of the desert, but also a traditional coffee shop in the heart of downtown Tehran.

Filming took place over the course of 5 days in different locations in Tehran and a remote desert 200km north of Tehran, with a cast of 30 members.

For Post-Production, I flew back to Germany and did most of the Post-Production including Editing, Color Correction and Sound Design by myself. Also, co-operations with local Iranian musicians have been done in order to achieve a soundtrack that fits the Middle Eastern environment of the film.

After encouragements from my supervising Professors at my university, and the positive reception which my film got from the audience at my university, I have decided to wait and submit my film for Berlinale 2021. After that, I will start submitting it to other festivals that will follow.





Saeed Oveisi

Saeed Oveisi
as Ishmael

Ali Bagheri

Ali Bagheri
as Abraham

Amir Zafari

Amir Zafari
as Amir

Mohammad Bashir

Mohammad Bashir
as young Ishmael



Arian Sanati

Writer, Director, Producer
Edit, Sound Design

Rasoul Hemmati

Director of Photography

Hamed Hosseinzade

Sound Record

Sara Azampanah

Set Design

Mohammad Masoumi

Still Photography



Coming soon