by Fabrizio Polpettini
Country: France, Italy
Year: 2023
Duration: 57'

“I’m an exile, and an exile always needs a light at the end of the tunnel.” I don’t know whether I can make my dreams come true, but I want to reach the Dutch literary and linguistic top. I say that quite consciously: to keep that light burning in the future. An exile always runs the risk of falling, and I don’t want to fall. I want to stay on my feet.” Kader Abdolah, an Iranian political refugee, arrived in the Netherlands in 1988 at the age of 33, without knowing a word of Dutch. Twenty-five years later, one of his novels, The House of the Mosque (2005), was voted by the readers the second best book ever written in Dutch. The son of a deaf and dumb carpet repairman, Kader had been, since childhood, his father’s ears and tongue. For all his life he has been searching for those words that aloud us to exist.


film director

Fabrizio Polpettini

(Milan, Italy) studied visual arts and environmental sciences in Milan, film production in Paris and documentary filmmaking in Corsica. In 2009 he created Filmcaravan, an open-air film festival, and in 2014 he founded La Bête, a creative documentary production bureau. In 2021 his medium-length Un usage de la mer premiered at the TFF in Italian.doc selection.


The Houses There Wear Verandahs Out of Shyness (cm, doc, 2010), La fille à la valise (cm, 2011), Rabbit Hole (cm, 2012), The Ancient Child (cm, 2017), Un usage de la mer (doc, mm, 2021), Getting Older Is Wonderful (mm, doc, 2023).


film director

“Kader Abdolah calls himself a Dutch-Persian novelist. Born in Iran in 1954, the son of a deaf and dumb carpet repairman, in his youth he became an activist in a clandestine leftist revolutionary movement, until he was forced into exile. Cultivating the passion of literature from an early age, he found himself a political refugee in the Netherlands in 1988, when he was 33, without having abandoned his dream of becoming a famous novelist. I read somewhere that the mother tongue is the homeland of the exile. Yet, on his arrival in Europe, Kader Abdolah made a choice that seemed to radically contradict this statement. Considering that the Persian language was hostage to the mullahs’ regime, he decided to write only in Dutch, a language he had just begun to learn by reading children’s books. It was a radically transformative experience, during which he felt deeply shaken, as he himself says ‘The Dutch words were telling me: you are nothing’ but he persevered anyway, thanks, among other things, to an ability exercised since childhood. Kader had been the ears and tongue of his deaf-mute father, constantly translating the world to him in the rudimentary sign language they spoke in his family.”


& Credits

DIRECTOR, SCREENPLAY, PRODUCER: Fabrizio Polpettini. CINEMATOGRAPHY: Robin Fresson, Matteo Stocco. EDITING: Marylou Vergez. MUSIC: Ilia Osokin. SOUND: Federica Paccotti, Marco Viale, Andrès Garcia Vidal, Linne Beck. CAST: Kader Abdolah, Shole, Given, Dostan, Layan. PRODUCTION: La Bête, A.C. Filmcaravan.

CONTACT: Fabrizio Polpettini fabrizio@labete.fr