By Eleanor Wenman17:00, Nov 25 2018 Wellington rug repairer Anna Williams, left, holds out thread in an Iranian bazaar while Mairi Gunn films her for the documentary The Kiwi, the Knight and the Qashqai.
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There's a thread running between Wellington and the country of Iran. Wellingtonian and Oriental rug repairer Anna Williams has travelled to Iran seven times to meet with weavers, from the carpet-makers in the bazaars of bigger cities to the tents of the nomadic Qashqai people. When long-time friend and filmmaker Anna Cottrell heard Williams talk about her travels she knew it was a story worth telling and embarked on making the documentary The Kiwi, the Knight and the Qashqai. Wellingtonian oriental rug repairer Anna Williams talks to Sir David Attenborough about the nomadic Qashqai tribe.
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"Anna is an absolutely remarkable woman who works alone, repairing carpets and it's not just her repairing [that's remarkable], it's her connection to the people who wove the carpets in the first place," Cottrell said. "They call her a master and that is amazing for a woman. For a woman to be sitting with the men, crosslegged, repairing rugs, is something." Filmmaker Anna Cottrell, left, and camera operator Mairi Gunn take a break from filming while in Isfahan, Iran.
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The pair travelled to Iran twice over the last couple of years, once with camera operator Mairi Gunn, to explore the bazaars of Iran and connect with people from a nomadic tribe known as Qashqai, while filming in 40 degree Celsius heat and under hijabs. The tribe is known for the rugs they weave - a practice they've been doing for centuries. "They're a very proud people. They've been independent and proud for centuries," Cottrell said. As part of the documentary, Williams and Cottrell explore the impact modern life has had on the Qashqai lifestyle. To do so, they even travelled to London, where they interviewed Sir David Attenborough - the knight from the film's title. In the 1970s Attenborough filmed his own documentary on the Qashqai tribe, Woven Garden. Since then, the practice of weaving within the tribe has slowly dried up, as younger generations often switched their traditional lifestyle for a more modern one. For Cottrell, travelling to Iran was the first time she had visited the country. "I loved it, I really did," she said. From friends and strangers inviting them into their houses for meals, or striking up conversations to practice their English, Cottrell was struck by the warmth of the people. "There's always a cup of tea that emerges from somewhere." * The Kiwi, the Knight and the Qashqai airs November 26, 8.30pm on Choice TV.