Mostafa Azizi is a revered television producer — but he is also a respected father, husband, friend and more. Sharagim Zand, one of Mostafa’s dearest friends, looks back on his time working with him and how Mostafa shaped him, for the better, as a person.
These days, Mostafa Azizi is best known in Iran for his former job as a television producer for programs like the Traveler and the Vault. But he means much, much more than that to me.
I first got to know Mostafa through his blogs and writings. He also read my blog, which at the time incessantly discussed my personal life (naturally, I still do this, but on Facebook instead). Mostafa was fully aware back then that I had to survive on a measly salary from working in a shop that sold protein products, or, in other words, a “deli.” Then one day, he invited me to his office near Jordan Street so that we could chat face-to-face over a cup of tea.
It was during this very first encounter that he offered me a job working on his movie and for his advertising company. That’s how I was finally able to leave the world of meat products and replace it with the new world of cultural products.
When I worked for him there, I was largely ignorant of my responsibilities. Instead, I spent most of my time quarrelling with the secretary, the accountant and the person responsible for providing refreshments. According to the actor and director Ala Mohseni, who was also working there at the time, our office was made up of a collection of know-it-alls and bloggers who didn’t know what their jobs, duties or responsibilities were.
The company had numerous projects, all of which it completed, but, at least to me, it seemed like I was simply studying a course. My most difficult tasks included visiting different set locations, seeing well-known actors up close and personal and, of course, having endless debates with Mostafa about different subjects. It is the latter that changed me profoundly as a person.
Mostafa Azizi is a voracious reader and, as somebody who on at least two occasions voluntarily hauled his books around, I have to say that his home was a literary goldmine. There were many times when we’d be having a debate and he would give me a book and tell me to read it so that we could continue our conversation later on. In less than a year, we’d debated so much and he’d given me so many books to read that I’d become an entirely different person. When I look back on those days now, I wonder in amazement at how he was so patient with me, given some of the beliefs and views I held back then. What did he get out of squabbling with an ignorant, pretentious and dogmatic youngster like myself?
It’s been a few years now since Mostafa Azizi left Iran to go to Canada to visit his children and find work for himself. However, it was not long before he decided to come back. The day I found out about this, I tried to talk him out of it because I was aware that he had always been outspoken in his writings and when expressing his views of the world. I was worried that he would get into trouble with the authorities. Unfortunately, Mostafa had already made the decision to return and was simply hoping that he wouldn’t face any problems with the government. He also missed his parents a lot.
But that isn’t what happened. And, now, he is stuck behind bars and they have sentenced him to eight years in prison. When I ask his son Arash about how he is, he says that he’s doing okay and that he is the one boosting morale in prison.
What can be done about this? Let us hope that the appeals court overrules this ridiculous verdict and that this lovely person is once again set free.