Art And Culture

Leading Lights Open Fajr Film Festival 2016

Leading Lights Open  Fajr Film Festival 2016
Leading Lights Open  Fajr Film Festival 2016

The most important cinematic event in Iran, the Fajr Film Festival opened Sunday, (Jan. 31) at Vahdat Hall in central Tehran in the presence of a large number of local cineastes and invitees.

The opening ceremony was held on the eve of February 1, the beginning of the Ten-Day Dawn Festivities, marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Mehr News Agency reported.

It started by awarding three winners of the promotional film section. Mohsen Amiryoussefi received the Crystal Simorgh for the best trailer for his acclaimed film ‘Bitter Dream’, Ali Baqeri for the best poster for ‘I Want to Be a King’ and Mohammad Badrlu for the best photo for ‘Confessions of My Dangerous Mind’.

Receiving his award, Amiryoussefi said that ‘Bitter Dream’ was screened recently after a 12-year ban and the only chance given to promote it was the trailer (which won the prize) as no billboard or TV teaser were considered for it.

Calling himself “the problem”, he blamed the festival organizers for not letting his last film ‘Lovely Pieces of Junk’ to be seen by the selection committee. He was referring to a remark earlier by the secretary of the festival, Mohammad Heidary, who called the film “the festival problem” as it was submitted to the festival secretariat for the third consecutive year and not approved for the final lineup.

The movie was given the production permit in 2012 by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance of the former government; however, the screening permit was not issued because “it was not in the interest of the state.”

“I hoped my film could be shown with Hassan Rouhani elected as president but that did not happen. I did not object for over two years and nor did I decide to show my film at foreign festivals because I wished to screen it first in my own country. I am afraid my film has not been shown yet,” Amiryoussefi rued.

He then dedicated his award to his film actor Shahab Hosseini who was selected as the advisor to the festival secretary, but resigned from his position in protest against Heidary’s reaction to the film.


Three Iranian actors, Mehdi Fakhimzadeh, Reza Kianian and Roya Teymourian and producer, Mohammad-Mehdi Dadgu, were commended.

Honoring Fakhimzadeh’ years of artistic career, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Ali Jannati said, “He is a versatile character as he has worked as a professional actor, director, poet, musician, stuntman and martial artist.”

Jannati also took the opportunity to briefly answer Amiryoussefi’s remarks. “The presence of Mahmoud Goudarzi, minister of sports and youth affairs, and Ali Rabiei, minister of cooperatives, labor and social welfare, here tonight shows that the government strongly supports cinema.”

Referring to the achievements of the Iranian film industry in the past two years he said, “One of our longstanding aspirations for the economics of culture was that the private sector invest in the fields of art and culture. Now we are seeing such signs as among the 200 productions, only 30 were supported by Farabi Cinema Foundation (a state organization affiliated to the Culture Ministry) and the rest were financed by the private sector.”

 VOD Network

A good piece of news for cineastes was the imminent start of the VOD (Video on Demand) network.

VOD is a system which allows users to select and watch/listen to video or audio content of their choice rather than having to watch at a specific broadcast time. IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is often used to bring VOD to televisions and personal computers.

“VOD will serve as a platform for all the filmmakers, especially those producing documentaries, animations and shorts, to be seen and will multiply the cinema turnover,” Jannati noted.

All the honorees went on the stage together with their spouses, a new initiative at the ceremony. Dadgu, veteran producer who was honored, pointed to the important role of families in their artistic career and underlined that “the suffering, selflessness and hardship of spouses must never be ignored.”

Before the opening ceremony, artists and guests of the festival walked the red carpet leading to the hall where they were surrounded by a large number of photographers.

The main competition section of this year’s edition includes 22 feature films by veteran and young directors made in a variety of genres. More movies by first-time filmmakers as well as documentary and experimental films are participating in three other competitive sections. All the movies will be screened for the public in a 10-day period and will be evaluated by jury members and the winners will be awarded at the closing ceremony on February 11.