The Damned

Caesar (Rick Amsbury) is an officer tasked with investigating and disposing of critics of a ruling dictatorial regime. One target haunts him several years later, a poet whose family was aboard a civilian airplane struck down by a missile. Now Caesar struggles to navigate between past and present, reality and fiction as he experiences surreal, vivid dreams and memories that are not his own involving the plane crash victims. In the present he visits a psychiatrist for mandated help, while in his dream world the passengers from the plane crash find themselves in a kind of purgatory and turn to Caesar for help with reclaiming their identities. This leads Caesar to manipulate their narratives and turn himself into a hero figure. Only Delaila (Beáta Imre), one of the passengers, sees through him and sets out to make things right. The importance of authentic memory and accountability shine through in this psychological fable.

  • Amir Ganjavie
  • Mehdi Shirzad
  • Arash Azizi
  • Amir Ganjavie
  • Mehrdad Zafari
  • Behzad Javaheri
  • Rick Amsbury
    Key Cast
    "Caesar "
  • Richard Cole
    Key Cast
    "The Dead Man"
  • Beáta Imre
    Key Cast
  • Christopher Power
    Key Cast
  • Daryl Marks
    Key Cast
    "Psychiatrist "
  • Stella Dimovsky
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 25 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 5, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Amir Ganjavie

"Amir Ganjavie, a multifaceted individual based in Toronto, holds a Ph.D. in communication and culture and is currently completing a second Ph.D. in philosophy at McMaster University. His first doctoral dissertation focused on utilizing Hegel's philosophy to understand and analyze contemporary utopian movies. He is currently pursuing a second doctorate in philosophy, specifically studying democracy theories and the dangers of privatization.

Fascinated by the issue of alternative and utopian space in modern urban settings and cinema, Amir has published several articles on utopia and authored two books—one on utopia and another on walkable neighborhoods (Pour une ville qui marche). Recently, he has co-edited two special volumes on Iranian cinema for Film International and Asian Cinema and edited Humanities of the Other: An essay collection on the Dardanne Brothers (in Persian). Apart from academia, Amir contributes to various publications including MovieMaker, Filmint, Mubi, Senses of Cinema, Offscreen, and Brightlight. He also serves as the chief editor of Universal Cinema Journal.

Amir is highly active in the community, serving as the CEO of the Cyrus Intl. Film Festival and the Phoenix Cultural Centre of Toronto. Additionally, he is a founding member of NaMaNa Cinema. His filmmaking journey began in 2018 with the co-direction of Pendulum. In 2021, he directed the COVID thriller film "Into Schrödinger's Box" in collaboration with Nasim Naghavi."

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Director Statement

The tragic event of Iran's shooting down of the Ukrainian Airliner PS752 in January 2020 deeply impacted me as a filmmaker with dual nationality in Canada and Iran. It stirred a profound sense of sadness within me, compelling me to respond through my film, "The Damned."

Drawing upon my background in political philosophy, I sought to approach this tragic event from a profound philosophical perspective. Rather than resorting to the conventional dichotomy of friends and enemies often found in political films, or relying on stereotypical characters, my aim was to create a space for introspection and critical thinking. Inspired by the philosophy of Kant, I believe that true maturity arises from the ability to think independently. Through "The Damned," I extend an invitation to audiences to contemplate their world and their place within it. To convey this thought-provoking exploration, "The Damned" takes the form of an allegorical supernatural film. It unfolds as a folkloric tale, at times whimsical and spooky, dark and satirical. My intention was to create an atmosphere and ambiance that transcend the boundaries of representing the real world, allowing for symbolic interpretations and deeper meanings to emerge.

My journey as a filmmaker has been intertwined with the influence of George Orwell's iconic novel "1984," heightening my awareness of authoritarian governments' attempts to manipulate collective memory. These regimes seek to erase and replace memories with their own chosen narratives. Sadly, this manipulation of memory occurred in the case of the Airliner PS752 tragedy, as the Iranian government attempted to deny responsibility and shape the narrative to align with its ideology. This serves as a testament to the truth depicted in Orwell's novel.

"The Damned" places a central emphasis on the significance of memory in preserving truth, individuality, and freedom. It underscores the profound political implications associated with memory, urging viewers to reflect on the narratives they choose to embrace and the collective responsibility to resist the erasure of history. The characters within the film grapple with the arduous task of safeguarding their personal memories amidst manipulation and attempts to rewrite their stories.

Through this cinematic lens, my aspiration is to awaken the audience's consciousness and cultivate a deeper understanding of the power dynamics inherent in memory construction. "The Damned" serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving truth and the role individuals play in shaping the collective memory of society.

Thank you for considering "The Damned" for inclusion in your esteemed festival. I am honored to have the opportunity to share this thought-provoking and allegorical work with your discerning audience.