Art And Culture

Winners Grab Simorghs as FIFF Curtain Falls

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Winners Grab Simorghs as FIFF Curtain Falls
Winners Grab Simorghs as FIFF Curtain Falls

The 34th Fajr international Film Festival (FIFF) ended at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall on Monday (April 25) with the top prize, Golden Simorgh for Best Film, going to ‘Rams’ directed by Grimur Hakonarson and produced by Grimar Jonsson from Iceland and Denmark, in the main International Competition section (Cinema Salvation).

The Silver Simorgh for Best Director went to the Turkish director Emin Alper for ‘Frenzy’. Iranian actress Pantea Panahiha won the Silver Simorgh for Best Actress for her role in ‘Breath’ and the Silver Simorgh for Best Actor went to the two lead actors of ‘Rams’, Sigurour Sigurjonsson and Theodor Juliusson.

The award ceremony was held in the presence of Iranian cinema managers, local cineastes and international guests. Following the new approach in organizing the festival, the closing event was also different compared to the previous editions as there were no official speeches.

A music performance followed the awards presentation and the entire program wound up within an hour, almost half the time taken up in festivals in previous years.

The Silver Simorgh for Best Script was given to Asier Altuna Iza from Spain for ‘Amama: When a Tree Falls’. The Silver Simorgh for Best Short Film went to ‘Seeing’ by Soheil Amir Sharifi from Iran.

The jury awarded its Silver Simorgh Special Prize for outstanding artistic and technical contribution to ‘Arvand’ directed by Pouria Azarbijani from Iran.

The Interfaith Award winner was ‘Zemnaco’ directed by Mehdi Ghorbanpour from Iran. In this section, two Special Mention Diplomas went to ‘Hasti’ directed by Kamal Parnak from Iran and ‘Love Marriage in Kabul’ by Amin Palangi from Australia and Afghanistan.

 Top Names Absent Due to Illness

The latter was also selected as the winner of Muhammd Al-Ameen section for reflection of prophetic ethic and morality.

Further, the event also awarded the best of Eastern Vista section and the Art and Experience prizes to the winners.

Before the ceremony ended, Reza Mirkarimi, festival secretary, said, “Unfortunately today Nasser Taghvai (veteran filmmaker and one of the jury members) could not attend the event due to illness. There is also another person we missed this year, Abbas Kiarostami, but I am sure will join us next year.”

The celebrated director Kiarostami, who was said to be among the organizers of the 34th FIFF, has been hospitalized for a month and is recovering after surgery. The mention of his name drew loud applause from the audience as he is among the most popular filmmakers locally and internationally.

Mirkarimi apologized for the shortcomings in running the festival “as it was his first time.” He promised a more impressive show next year. He has been appointed secretary of the 35th festival as well.

The musical performance by an all-female ensemble and a male vocalist, who sang Persian folkloric pieces, brought the ceremony to a close. The brilliant musical performance with traditional Iranian instruments was a fitting finale.

 Fond of Iran Cinema

Speaking to the Financial Tribune, Afghan filmmaker Sahra Karimi, one of jury members in the Eastern Vista section, said that the selection of 15 films in the section was good and “we had very interesting films to discuss and to debate which one would be the winner.

On visiting the Cinema Museum in north of Tehran, she said, “it was very interesting.” She appreciated the museum as Iranian cinema is strong in the world and it should have its own museum.

Karimi holds a PhD in fiction film directing and screenwriting from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia. She has made around 30 short fiction and documentary films.

Her documentary ‘Afghan Women Behind Driving Wheel’ (2014) has won 25 awards from international film festivals around the world.

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Karimi, 31, grew up in Tehran till the age of 17. On her interest in Iranian films, she said, “There is part of Iranian culture in me. So for me following Iranian cinema is like following my own culture”.

 Proud to Be Iranian

The Iranian-Australian filmmaker Amin Palangi who won two awards was over the moon as his first-ever screening in Iran received prizes.

Pointing to Mirkarimi’s words on the possible shortcomings in this year’s edition, Palangi told the Tribune, “I felt very proud as an Iranian returning home and being involved in this festival. It is not the first time I have been in an international festival and I think this was quite amazing; it is definitely in my top five as it was really professional. I am very happy to be Iranian, to be honest”.

Not expecting to win prizes, he surmised that the story of his film centering on an Afghan woman living in Australia and raising money for orphans and widows in Afghanistan is probably the reason that persuaded the judges to award him with the Interfaith and Muhammad Al-Ameen prizes. “In the film, I have tried to capture the humanity that I have experienced in the past 10 years traveling in Afghanistan.”

His next project will be about his father, Nasser Palangi, a well-known Iranian artist. “It will be a docudrama about my father as a young artist and what he did in Iran’s history during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

 Enthusiastic Audience

Turkish filmmaker Emin Alper who won the Best Director Award noted that a prize from a professional festival in Iran had made him very happy. On the experience of watching his film here with Iranian audiences, he told the Tribune, “Iranian cinephiles were more enthusiastic than people in other international festivals. Many people congratulated me in the cinema hall here and I was very happy with the response of the audience.”

Rich programs and the large number of international guests surprised him in his first visit to Iran. “It was more than I expected,” Alper said. He enjoyed visiting the old bazaar and mosques in Tehran. “I was very curious about Iran and Tehran and I am happy to have  closer contact with Iranians,” he added.

The 34th FIFF was held April 20-25 at Charsou Cineplex in south Tehran.