Art And Culture

No Link Between Int’l Film Awards and Dark Edges

Sports, Art & Culture Desks
No Link Between Int’l Film Awards and Dark Edges  No Link Between Int’l Film Awards and Dark Edges

Iranian director and actors of ‘The Salesman’ which won two awards at Cannes Film Festival (May 11-22), attended a press conference at Khaneh Hamayesh (conference house) in Tehran on Monday.

‘The Salesman’ written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Asghar Farhadi featuring Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti as leading actors, scooped the screenplay award for Farhadi and the best actor award for Hosseini at the 69th Cannes.

At the beginning, Farhadi asked reporters not to ask questions about the film story as it has not been screened in Iran. The movie was a late addition to the festival lineup after the official selection was announced.

“On the submission deadline, our film was still in post-production phase. Anyhow we sent a version to the selection committee but they could not watch it completely as there was a technical problem and with the deadline over, they did not include it in their initial list. But the day after, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux said in an interview they may add more films. A few days later, we submitted a better version and finally a week later it was added to the final list,” Farhadi said.

Mohammad Atabbai, expert on Iran cinema international affairs, said many filmmakers in the world adjust their production schedules in a way that their film is ready by the end of the submission deadline in Cannes.

“In the more recent editions of Cannes, it has been common to add one or two films after the first list is announced,” he noted.

When asked by the Financial Tribune why many prominent actors such as Reza Kianian, Parviz Parastui and Niki Karimi do not appear in his films, Farhadi said, “Surely I would love to interact with these actors as I like their work. I make movies every two or three years and part of my cast is the actors from my previous films. But I use one or two actors with whom I have not worked before. I do hope I have enough time to work with the people you mentioned”.

 Road Ahead Challenging

The best actor award at Cannes is one of the major prizes in the category and winning it means an actor has reached the zenith in his career. When asked if the award satisfied him and what else he wishes to accomplish, Hosseini said the prize gives him both fear and anxiety as the road ahead now will be more challenging. “It is just the beginning for me and I must continue on the same path”.

On the reception of his films by both the public and the critics and intellectuals, Farhadi said his main concern since his first film is that both groups -- those who watch movies for entertainment and those who follow them professionally -- should understand and enjoy his films.

He believes the key to attract the majority of the audience is storytelling. All people across the globe enjoy listening to stories.

Although in recent years he has been the center of attention for his international success, his past four films have been among the bestsellers in their screening year locally. “Outside Iran it was the same, for example, ‘The Past’ and ‘A Separation’ each had one million viewers,” Farhadi added.

Why is it that some quarters and critics say that Iranian films that win top foreign awards normally tend to show the “dark side of the society,” the celebrated director was asked. “I agree that sometimes a negative image of the country is unintentionally implied in a film. However, it is not right to say foreign festivals are waiting (only) for a dark film about Iran to shower it with praise. At least in the festivals I have attended that was not the case,” he said.

Atabbai said last year was an exceptional year for Iran cinema as “we had 2,250 participations in foreign festivals and 370 prizes were collected. It is not possible for 370 juries in different festivals to unite to award a certain type of Iranian film”. The success comes from “the movies artistic values” and shows “our cinema status in the world”.

He asserted that no jury is influenced by political considerations and they do not let such matters interfere with their decision.

On the controversy of a Qatari investment in the film, Farhadi said, “Every year the Doha Film Festival selects a number of films to support and provide funds that compared to the overall production budget is a meager amount, less than 10%”.

‘The Salesman’ was one of the 7 films at Cannes they funded. But the Doha festival has not financed the whole movie as its producers are Farhadi and the French company Memento Films. “I believe there is a competition between some Arab festivals in the region and the grants are a means to promote their names and earn fame.”

The movie was Hosseini’s third and Alidoosti’s fourth collaboration with Farhadi. “The two actors have such talent that there is no repetition in their actions. They are smart and professional and these films demonstrate a part of their prowess,” Farhadi said.

The strength of Farhadi’s directing and screenwriting is well acclaimed and known to all and his prizes in these categories are indeed undeniable proof of this claim. Moreover, actors playing in his films present their best performance; this is partly due to their great abilities and also the skills in Farhadi in eliciting and encouraging those potentials.