From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

Despite studying International Relations and having a PhD in the field, a famous Iranian animation producer, Dr Alireza Mohammadinigjeh, has explained why he is devoted to the world of animation.


• Mohammadinigjeh

Mohammadinigjeh, who has spent two years in Abuja and has won several awards related to animation, explained that his passion to spread the message of peace and friendship and see an end to war led him into the world of animation.

Mohammadinigjeh has been the judge of many animation festivals, and the animated film, Mina and Leopard and the series of animations, Mina and Friends (Doustan) 1 and 2, which are more than 1500 minutes in total.

The nativeness of images and graphics is one of the main characteristics of his works which has made him very famous in Iran.

Some of Mohammadinigjeh’s works have been published in Azerbaijan and other countries. In addition to being a producer, he is also a writer, and the novel, Black Birds Don’t Lie, is one of his outstanding works.

In this interview with Saturday Sun, Mohammadinigjeh spoke about his works and life, particularly in his native country, Iran.

What made you enter the world of animation?

My name is Alireza Mohammadinigjeh. I am an animation producer and a PhD holder in International Relations. To better understand why I got into animation, I have to go back a little. I was one year old; the revolution of 1979 had won in Iran. I was two years old when the neighbouring country of Iraq attacked Iran. The alarm of danger still screams in my ears and sometimes wakes me up from sleep at night. They said that if you see a white cloud in the sky, immediately lie on the ground and put your hands above your head. We were afraid to go out and we always stayed at home. When I was nine years old, the war ended and I lost many classmates due to the bombing.

Iranian television had two channels and according to the specific political conditions of that time, all of them broadcast political programmes. And 30 minutes were dedicated to children every day. I loved the cartoon. One day, while I was watching a cartoon, the television showed an urgent programme. A large number of women and children were sleeping innocently and the smoke was spread everywhere. I told my mother why they were sleeping on the street. My mother was crying a lot. I said why are you crying, mother? She said they were all dead. Iraq has used chemical bombs. I said, why did you say it is war, mother?

I was always afraid of war and hated it. I wanted to make war no more and learn pacifism everywhere. For this reason, I entered the University of International Relations and I continued until my doctorate.

My father was a sculptor and taught me to draw as a child. Then I learned sculpture from him. But my constant concern was the war and I wanted to do something. As a result, I entered the world of film and animation. I loved animation. I thought to myself that I could do something with this tool and spread the message of peace and friendship.

What are you doing in Nigeria?

Nigeria is a beautiful country with kind people and a rich culture where I am researching cinema and animation. Nollywood is one of the biggest film and series production centres. I researched it for a whole year and wrote several articles about it. I attempted to introduce Nigerian art, especially cinema and animation, to Iranians.

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How many years have you been producing?

I have been producing for about 18 years, but I entered the world of animation professionally about 14 years ago.

Can you tell us a little about Iranian animation?

A terracotta cup with the figure of a jumping goat, which is known as the oldest animation in the world, was found in a 5,000-year-old grave in the “Shahre Sokhte” in Iran. However, the production of animation in Iran started about 63 years ago. And it has grown and developed in the last 20 years. Currently, the largest animation client in Iran is the Saba Animation Centre, which is a fully state-owned centre. It has an average position in the world. There is not much to say in the cinema section due to the budget of the production cost, but about short animations, due to strong universities and a strong history and civilization of 7, 000 years, Iranians are in a high position.

What is your main motivation in animation production?

As I said, I consider animation to be a means of informing me in addition to entertainment. Ending war and the environment are my main concerns. In the collection of Mina and Friends, the two main subjects are helping to preserve the environment and educating children to protect the environment. In this regard, I have produced several motion graphics for the Envirole Company, the subject of which is the environment.

What makes your animations different?

As you know, animation is both art and industry. I care about both parts. In my opinion, it will be a successful animation that spreads local culture in the world. The world is full of different cultures and these are all beautiful. I travel to different cities and villages and I am constantly learning. In my opinion, locality and high quality are the hallmarks of my work.

What do you think about Nigerian animation?

The Nigerian animation industry is unique on the African continent. Rich culture, talented and literate youth, etc. Definitely, it promises good days for Nigerian animation. Nigerians are very creative. I know many Nigerians who are working in the most famous companies in the animation sector. I am very interested in producing joint projects with Nigerians. In this regard, I have entered into negotiations with some reputable Nigerian companies.

In the end, is there anything you want to say?

I present a piece of poetry that I wrote a few years ago to your readers. I walk every night; I don’t know where I’m going.

Sometimes I visit hungry children in Africa; I try to feed all the hungry children in the world. Sometimes I go to Syria.

I want some freedom and peace for them.

Recently, I have also been to Yemen. I had a basket of water and food in my hands, I heard that there was a famine and the children were homeless, I have been worried about the children of Gaza for some time. They die for no reason and I die with them. You can’t believe that I travel a lot. I still remember the child who shook hands with me in Mumbai and asked for help. He was hungry, he was smiling and life was flowing in his eyes. Yesterday, a motorcyclist shouted on the side of the highway, “Hey, where are you?” I was behind the hedge of my grandfather’s yard in Tabriz. I was in my childhood and I used to pick flowers and bite the red apple that my grandmother brought me.

Every night, I travel a long way to the vastness of my fantasy world. I don’t know what I’m looking for in this fantasy. Maybe looking for a smile like that of a poor boy in India, but I don’t know why I am always crying on the side of the street. I don’t know why I am in fantasy and the world is in reality, war, famine, and inequality.

I wish everyone was in the fantasy world