Art And Culture

Mirkarimi Says Rules Revised for 35th FIFF Awards

The festival guests have chosen to come to Iran despite the possibility of problems they may face later for getting a visa to the US
Reza Mirkarimi (R) at the press conference on April 10Reza Mirkarimi (R) at the press conference on April 10

Filmmaker Reza Mirkarimi, secretary of the 35th Fajr International Film Festival (FIFF), pointed to the goals of the festival to reach international standards, and explained what has been planned for this year’s edition, at a press conference on Monday.

Although “our festival pursues artistic and cultural goals as its main priority, the goals are undoubtedly rooted in national interests since no international event is held anywhere in the world without aspiring for the national objectives of the respective country,” he said.

At the briefing attended by over 100 reporters and media people at Charsou Cineplex in downtown Tehran, Mirkarimi said, “we plan to be the best in our region (the Middle East) in the short term and become Asia’s major festival in the medium term.”

Pointing to the success of last year’s event, the first time it was held independently from the national section, he said the organizers have strived to overcome shortcomings and achieve international standards.

Like the previous edition, Mirkarimi has cooperated with a group of experts in programming the different sections; however, he believes that as the festival secretary, he is responsible for the whole event. So he has seen all the 140 movie entries, from 58 countries, except for the seven horror films.

One of the differences in the upcoming edition is that there will be no nominations list. “When a film is accepted in a competition, it is a candidate for all the prizes,” he noted.

  Renowned Jury Members

Along with the many foreign films participating in the competition sections of the FIFF every year, there are also few Iranian productions which almost always are among the award winners.

Responding to a query by the Financial Tribune if there is a certain policy behind awarding the Iranian contenders, Mirkarimi said, “The winners are selected by the jury members, all experienced people in world cinema. Even if they consider some advantages for the host country, which can happen anywhere in the world, this surely is not the festival policy.”

Mirkarimi who has been a juror at several international festivals added that he will not interfere with decisions made  by the jury. “A festival shows its taste in the selection of films, that is where the policy is carried out, and then there is no difference which film wins.”

Five foreign cineastes and two Iranians are the jury of the main International Competition section ‘Cinema Salvation’, including German filmmaker Florian Gallenberger, American movie director Jessica Woodworth, Polish film and theater director Lech Majewski, Japanese actress Mieko Harada, Italian film producer Uberto Pasolini, Iranian actress Fatemah Motamed-Ariaýý and Iranian filmmaker Rasoul Sadrameli.

In the Eastern Vista section called ‘Panorama of Films from Asian and Islamic Countries’, the jury includes four experts from Egypt, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkey along with one from Iran. The Interfaith Competition jury also comprises three members, from Poland, Italy and Iran.

  Trip to Iran

The upcoming festival will host over 350 guests, more than double the number last year, from 66 nations. However, it has not been an easy task inviting them.

“There is an unfair and discriminatory law which says if a person has traveled to Iran, they will have trouble getting a visa for the US. The issue may be political but when there is a grand occasion which needs the presence of big names, such policies will hinder the process. So we had a difficult job to invite our guests,” Mirkarimi said.

“Fortunately, many of our invitees chose to come to Iran despite the possibility of problems they may face later,” he added.

When asked by this newspaper to name some of the prominent guests of the festival, he said due to some considerations, the names will be announced just a few days prior to the opening of the festival. However, he pointed to the foreign jury members as celebrated figures whose names have been revealed.

As Mirkarimi said, there will be several film premieres this year, some will have their debut in Asia and some will be shown for the first time. The names will be announced later.

The 35th FIFF is slated for April 20-28 at Charsou Cineplex. Enthusiasts who want to see the movies should register in the festival club at the festival website. So far more than 20,000 film fans have signed up. Felestin and Farhang cinemas are dedicated for the club members.

To another question by the FT about any special programs for the opening ceremony, Mirkarimi said, “there will be no official opening but on April 19, the festival organizers will have another session with the media and watch a couple of the film entries together.  The festival club has also planned a celebration for its members on the same day at Felestin Cinema.”


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