The Global Search for Education: Farid Tahmasebi Discusses iFriend

C. M. Rubin
4 min readDec 7, 2023

This month, audiences can screen iFriend on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated for the Planet Classroom Network by KIDS FIRST! Film Festival.

Directed by Farid Tahmasebi, iFriend is a unique tale of two imaginary friends facing the rare predicament of being forgotten. Alfred, the companion to a 9-year-old boy, grapples with the prospect of losing his abilities and becoming real. Alongside another forgotten friend, they embark on a whimsical journey toward reality. iFriend is a fun, innocent, and captivating adventure in a world of bright colors for audiences of all ages.

The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Farid Tahmasebi.

Farid, what inspired you to create iFriend, a film about the unique dilemma faced by imaginary friends?

A couple of years ago, I saw my little cousin playing with his friend who I was not able to see. He could describe every single detail about his imaginary friend as if he was really seeing her. I didn’t remember if I had any imaginary friends when I was a child. I started to get curious about the subject. I thought about my possible imaginary friend and how they left me. Had I been tired of them and asked them to leave, or had they just disappeared without notice? After a few days, I accidentally saw a psychological article about kids and their imaginary friends. The article claimed that many children have a sort of imaginary friend and gradually, as they grow up, they start to engage with real friends and forget about their imaginary ones. For a moment, I empathized with the imaginary friends, the kids’ true lovers, doomed to vanish on a deadline. What does the imaginary friend go through when he finds himself alone in a big city?

How did you develop the concept for the story, and what do you hope viewers will take away from it?

In the first scene, when the imaginary friend of Daniel, the Iranian-English child, is sitting on a bench where he got forgotten and sees another boy, he tries to become a friend of him as he knows his job. He must become friends with any other kid who is present in the same place which the previous child has forgotten him. The inciting incident here is when he finds himself visible to an adult person. Has he lost his abilities as an imaginary friend? As he becomes disappointed in finding Daniel, he leaves the yellow balloon which has their picture on it. Then, he confronts a weird chubby girl with a rabbit pink hoodie and discovers that the girl is also a visible imaginary friend. Through this confrontation, I wanted to show how two characters face the same challenge differently. One chooses to adopt, but the other one decides to stay loyal to his friend. However, the story is about a separation but in the subtext the theme comes from an idea that I’ve been contemplating for years: the idea that “the one who loves less wins.” I want to share my question with the audience: after seeing someone’s unkindness and disloyalty, we are faced with the dilemma of remaining the same person or changing. Which one are we supposed to choose? Most people change, but will love exist if everybody changes?

iFriend features vibrant and quirky characters. Can you share your creative process in bringing these characters to life?

I knew that I was making a film about characters who are related to children. Their job is to make children happy. Therefore, based on the story, we made them look vibrant and fresh. In terms of the main character, my custom designer and I decided to give him a little duck toy as his companion. We gave him a necktie with duck patterns as well. I am not sure who wears such a necktie, but I’m glad that we found it because I believe it made this character unique.

The film has an innocent and whimsical quality. What challenges did you encounter while balancing this tone with the underlying theme of being forgotten?

First of all, I like challenges. I don’t know how much I was in creating such an atmosphere, but I know the most dark and sad stories can pop out in the happiest moments of our life. When the main character describes the moment he discovered that Daniel couldn’t see him anymore, I wanted the actor to perform in a truly sad way. That memory was actually the first time that Daniel forgot him. It was unbelievable to him. The next time, when he hears Daniel’s voice, he gets excited, however, Daniel forgets him again, and he experiences real disappointment. The short film ends with the question: Can the sweeper see him? Has he been left here visible to everyone, or has he become imaginary again?

Thank you, Farid.

C.M. Rubin with Farid Tahmasebi

Don’t miss iFriend, now streaming on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated by KIDS FIRST! Film Festival for the Planet Classroom Network.