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UNDER THE SHADOW Director Talks His Spooky Sundance Debut About the Iran-Iraq War

Scarier than any of the multifaceted terrors lurking within Under the Shadow is the astronomical level of buzz surrounding its Sundance Film Festival debut last month. The Farsi-language film, which is a psychological supernatural thriller taking place in war-torn 1988 Tehran, secured a Netflix distribution deal (to follow its theatrical run) before it even screened at Sundance. After its screening and overwhelmingly positive reaction, XYZ Films and Vertical Entertainment announced they would be partnering to bring the film to a global audience. Considering what a creepy treat Under the Shadow turned out to be, this is very exciting news. Understandably, there is perhaps no one more excited than director Babak Anvari.

Under the Shadow marks both the feature film and Sundance debut for the British-Iranian filmmaker, who directed and wrote it. For Anvari, Under the Shadow is a personal film, inspired by both his own experiences and those of friends and family who grew up in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War. The period saw families torn apart through compulsory military service and civilians living in constant fear of failing bombs. In fact, one could say that authenticity is the name of Anvari’s game—something that may seem at odds with telling a supernatural horror story.

Between the film’s monstrous entities being firmly rooted in the region’s cultural history, the roiling sociopolitical commentary bubbling under the surface, and the decision to keep the film in the Farsi language—despite requests from potential producing partners to change it—Under the Shadow feels authentic. Yes, there’s plenty of fiction and flights of horrifying fancy to be found, but Anvari’s vision rings true and reverberates with the viewer long after the credits roll. While at Sundance, I had the pleasure of speaking with the writer-director about all of this and more, which you can watch in our video interview above.

What do you think of Under the Shadow? Will you be seeing it when it eventually hits theaters? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

To read our complete Sundance coverage, click here.

Image Credit: XYZ Films

Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about the Avengers and Star Wars. You can follow him on Twitter (@Osteoferocious).

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