I’m a fighter
Leila Zelli, I’m a fighter, 2019, animated video, color, sound, 2 min 21 s in hommage to Saeid Mollaei

  • First shown in the exhibition « Le chant des oiseaux » at the Conseil des arts de Montréal, November 25, 2019 to February 14, 2020
  • Presented in the exhibition Le rétrécissement du monde - Six degrés de séparation, Galerie AVE, July 1 to 24, 2021

In September 2019, Iranian judo world champion Saeid Mollaei accused the Iranian Islamic government of forcing him to lose the semi-final of the Tokyo Worlds so that he wouldn't face an Israeli in the final. This courageous denunciation not only led to the suspension of the Iranian judo federation from all international competition, but also drove the judoka into exile in Germany.

“I'm a fighter” is a rotoscoped animation of one of Mollaei's recent fights. It has been created in such a way that the judoka appears to be fighting alone. The animation suggests the athlete's struggle against the psychological and political pressures of the current Iranian government.

“I'm a fighter; I want to compete where I can," said Mollaei in a statement issued by the International Judo Federation. “I live in a country where the law doesn't allow me to. We have no choice, all athletes must comply. Everything I did today was for my life, for a new life.... If I had fought, I would have had a lot of problems. I'm an athlete, not a politician, and I've never been involved in politics."