also returns to Know your place: Mohajerjasbi’s love of aerial shots of Seattle, its skyline emerging from the fog, its small hillside huts lighting up at dusk, its dark trees softening the built environment. But while many locals will recognize the skyline – perhaps helped by a cameo from the Central District’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church – there aren’t many obvious “clues” to the film’s location. . In fact, the Space Needle (and the rain!) only appears at the end, a tiny lighthouse in a wide shot.
Including the Space Needle would have been “the equivalent of casting a leading actor in a little drama,” says Mohajerjasbi, a University of Washington alum. “You can’t get over watching this famous actor do this really muted and grounded performance.” Instead, the aerial shots depict exactly what the characters see at each step of their odyssey. “We’re in Seattle, but we’re living it at the neighborhood, or street level,” he says.
This has been Mohajerjasbi’s longstanding approach (see also: his music videos for Gabriel Teodros and Macklemore, featuring skylines from a south end perspective). “Like, we’ve seen the postcards, but here’s the Seattle that’s even prettier,” he says. “I hope I can communicate this feeling and, in the choice of images, give you a sense of belonging. But from one [perspective] what do people who don’t live around Kerry Park see — because it’s like, what, 10 degrees of a full circle around our city? Kerry Park is beautiful. But we have seen it.
Instead, in Know your place, the city has room to breathe, now that the “star actor” no longer sucks the air out of the room. The Seattle-ness is more subtle, integrated. It’s in the faces, in the languages (mainly English and Tigrinya), the subway buses, the splendid colors of the foliage, the elusive, the dim sunlight and the dramatic clouds of autumn. in the Northwest.
The agonizing question for Mohajerjasbi now is how his film will land with a Seattle audience. He’s also thinking of a national audience, hoping for a wider film festival and some sort of official distribution. It may take months or even years, but he is already working on two new projects – a short film and a feature film – with his writing partner Christian Rabin. And guess what? Both take place in Seattle.
“Know Your Place” airs online from April 14 to 24 and screens in person at SIFF Cinema Egyptian on April 17 and Ark Lodge Cinema on April 19.