where we used to swim


Lake Urmia in Northern Iran was once the largest lake in the Middle East. But human influence set its course, and brought upon a devastating drought that the lake could not withstand. Today, just 5% of the original lake remains. The majority of the land is now barren and covered by salt. This cinematic essay observes the places of present and past, and weaves a new narration with fragments of identity and memory.


“Sustainability Award” at 26. Kurzfilmwoche Regensburg
“Honorable Mention” at 19. Innsbruck Nature Film Festival


62. DOK Leipzig, Germany, 2019
13. KFFK Cologne, Germany, 2019
39. Munich Filmschool Fest, Germany, 2019
26. Internationale Kurzfilmwoche Regensburg, Germany, 2020
12. GO SHORT – ISFF Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2020
17. Vienna Shorts, Austria, 2020
35. DOK.fest Munich, Germany, 2020
13. Leiden Shorts, Netherlands, 2020
21. KUK Kurzfilmtage Schweinfurt, Germany, 2020
40. Odense Shortfilm Festival, Denmark, 2020
9. Kyiv International Shortfilm Festival, Ukraine, 2020
26. Film Festival della Lessinia, Italy, 2020
49. Sehsüchte Berlin, Germany, 2020
36. Kurzfilmfestival Hamburg, Germany, 2020
20. Festival de Cine Alemán Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2020
  3. Cinemafest Orvieto, Italy, 2020
14. German Currents Film Festival L.A., USA, 2020
41. Festival du Film court de Villeurbanne, Lyon, France, 2020
36. Warsaw International Film Festival, Poland, 2020
25. Festival du Cinéma Allemand, Paris, France, 2020
16. International Filmfestival Sedicicorto, Italy, 2020
13. Imagine Science Film Festival New York, USA, 2020
19. International Innsbruck Nature Filmfestival, Austria, 2020
20. Escales Documentaires, La Rochelle, France, 2020
36. International Shortfilm Festival Berlin, Germany, 2020
24. PÖFF Black Nights Tallinn, Estonia, 2020
6. Festival Cinéma Jeune Public Lausanne, Switzerland, 2020
37. Festival International du Film de Montagne d’Autrans, France, 2020
21. Izmir Shortfilm Festival, Turkey, 2020
13. This Human World Festival Vienna, Austria, 2020
9. Liberation DocFest Bangladesh, 2021
13. Strangloscope Experimental Filmfestival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2021
3. Field Recordings, Rotterdam, Netherlands 2021
10. Cineglobe Festival CERN, Switzerland, 2021
#60 Labocine July Issue



part of german films NEXT GENERATION selection which premiered at Festival de Cannes 2020


“The dried tears of Lake Urmia in northern Iran are for sale – salt in plastic bags at the roadside. Once the biggest lake in the Middle East, only a fraction of it is left today. This is its elegy, presenting both its former splendour and its state today. Wavering between factuality and melancholy, the film finally opts for a pessimistic view of society. The dying lake becomes a symbol.”
-Carolin Weidner


“A love poem, a love song to a place that disappeared – once one of the biggest lakes in the Middle East, vanished and turned almost complete into a salt desert – lake Urmia. This poetic essay embarks from the former crowded shores back in the time, when there still was water, and leads us to recent images of the scenery. The young filmmaker Daniel Asadi Faezi visualizes the mourning by arranging playful but gently the images and brings Urmia for a glimpse of the moment back to life but let us its loss resonates long after.”
-Jury Statement “Innsbruck Nature Film Festival”


“A salt desert as a starting point for reflection on the past and visibility. An essayistic observation, memory work and political appeal. The different sources of images are arranged sensitively and confidently. The camera impresses with excellently composed, emphatic images that are elegantly mounted and set to music. A monumental memorial to the disappearance of Lake Urmia, once the largest lake in Iran, which today measures only 5% of its original size.”
-Jury Statement “Kurzfilmwoche Regensburg”


“As archive footage blends with contemporary explorations, the film deals not only with the environmental changes within a society but also the social and political aspects that echo these changes. A reflection on identity and memory, the past and the present and an evocation of a society that is trying to reconcile these states of being, Where We Used To Swim is a moving and beautiful piece of work”
-PÖFF Shorts, Tallinn


a Daniel Asadi Faezi Production
producer, director, dop | Daniel Asadi Faezi
assistant director | Mehrdad Dehghani, Bani Moradi
editor | Narges Kalhor
narrator | Dariush Gigloo
sounddesign | Andrew Mottl
color grading | Nicholas Coleman
2019 | Germany | 8 minutes | Documentary | Azerbaijani with english subtitles