‘Tennessine’. (Image by Ali Nasseri 2021)
A psychological drama from Iranian filmmaker Amin Palangi is currently shooting in NSW, starring Osamah Sami, Faezeh Alavi, and Robert Rabiah.
Tennessine was written by Sami, who also plays Arash, a Persian man who arrives in Australia against his family’s wishes to reunite with the love of his life, the elusive Nazanin (Alavi).
While the couple is about to spend a romantic weekend in a cabin in the woods, the arrival of Nasser (Rabiah) interrupts the idyllic reunion and raises doubts about his connection with Nazanin. Soon, Arash learns of deep harboured secrets, which leads him down a path of self-destruction.
The independently financed feature is being directed by Palangi, who is also producing with Ulysses Oliver and Ben Ferris for Palangi Productions and Breathless Films.
The creative team also includes director of photography Daniel Hartley-Allen, production designer Ellen Doolan, and costume designer CC Williams.
Sami, who is based in Melbourne, penned the script during last year’s lockdown, with the story taken from Palangi’s 2020 proof-of-concept short film Break.
He fine-tuned the screenplay across Zoom calls with Palangi, who lives in Sydney.
It’s the latest step in a collaborative partnership that began in 2008 after they met on the set of Tony Ayres’ Saved.
Tennessine is the second script they have worked on together, having written romantic drama Road to the Blooming City in 2018, a project currently in development.
Romance has also been a feature in their individual projects, with Sami having co-written and starred in romance comedy Ali’s Wedding, while Palangi’s previous work includes the 2014 documentary Love, Marriage and Kabul, which details the quest of Afghan-Australian woman Mahboba Rawi, as she passionately negotiates and challenges old traditions to make a love marriage happen.
Sami told IF their foray into psychological drama came from a shared passion for the subject matter.
“We really wanted to tell a story that resonates with us both,” he said.
“We have a different ways of looking the world but we do work well together.”
Palangi, who is the founder of the Persian International Film Festival in Australia, said their creative partnership had served to explore themes relating to migration.
“Osamah and I share a number of things in our lives, one of which is our backgrounds,” he said.
“Part of what drew us to this was to capture the effects of displacement on people from different communities who come to Australia and choose the country as their home, much like us.
“We’ve also very openly embraced diversity in our cast and crew that goes beyond the cultural level.”
Filming on Tennessine is being split between Sydney and the rural town of Mariluan in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, with shooting expected to be completed by the first week of May.
No distributor has been confirmed for the project as yet.
Palangi is also working on Common Ground, a feature co-written with Eve Spence that is currently in development, having received development funding from Screen NSW and successfully entered the Attagirl Program.