Art And Culture

Iranian Films Are Potent From Within

Sports, Art & Culture Desks
Mounira Ben Halim: Many people in Tunisia want to see Iranian films, especially young students of cinema and critics
Charsou Cineplex in downtown Tehran is hosting the FIFF April 21-28.Charsou Cineplex in downtown Tehran is hosting the FIFF April 21-28.

Malaysian filmmaker Aw See Wee whose short fiction ‘Highway’ has two showings at the Fajr International Film Festival (FIFF) which opened on Friday, is in Tehran to see his work.

Although his film was shown in festivals in Malaysia, Thailand and the UK, he believes the FIFF is “the biggest festival he has ever participated with Highway” (produced in 2015).

His film is an entry in the competition section ‘Panorama of Films from Asian and Islamic Countries’ but he has not given thought to winning an award. “I really think people who watch my film will like it,” he told the Financial Tribune.

The film is about a college student and his mother who are driving to a wedding banquet. Stuck in a traffic jam on a highway in Kuala Lumpur, a long conversation ensues, heightening tension between the two.

He has made four short films so far and is planning to make his first feature. Influenced by traditional and oriental cultures, Aw’s films mostly focus on family relationships and social issues.

On his familiarity with Iran cinema, he says, “I actually like Asghar Farhadi. His film ‘The Salesman’ was shown in Malaysian cinemas.” He has also seen movies by the late Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. “I like Iranian films because I think there is very deep thought in them. Visually they do not show very strong image, but they are very strong inside; that makes them more powerful.”

Speaking about the film industry in his country, he says, “they do make movies but not as much as Iranians.” Audiences are more interested in commercial films, and independent movies and art-house films which participate in global festivals are not many in number as in other South Asian countries.

This is the second time Aw is visiting Tehran. Four months ago he came to attend Iran’s International Documentary Film Festival Cinema Verite with a short documentary. “I feel like I’m at home here. People are friendly and I really enjoy being here,” Aw noted.

Charsou Cineplex in downtown Tehran is hosting the FIFF (April 21-28), with movies and cinematic workshops at five halls.

  Cinematic Exchange With Tunisia

Mounira Ben Halim from the Cinema Department of Tunisia’s Ministry for Culture, was one of the guests at the festival who sees her presence at the festival as “an opportunity to exchange films between Iran and Tunisia”.

Talking to the Tribune, she says no films from Tunisia have attended the FIFF while in recent years there have been some Tunisian directors whose works have won acclaim in world festivals such as Venice and Cannes.

This is her first visit to Tehran but she knows famous Iranian directors Farhadi, Majidi and Kiarostami and has seen Iranian movies which attended film festivals in Tunisia. “We have many people who want to see Iranian films, especially young students of cinema and critics. They like them”.

Arriving early Friday, she said she had seen a Syrian movie about war in that country (Syria is involved in a brutal civil strife and a bloody war against terrorists for six years) and was going to watch an Iranian film ‘Ferrari’, the latest work of acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Alireza Davoudnejad.

The movie was unveiled at the national section of the 35th Fajr Film Festival (FFF) in February and won four awards for best actor, best script, best sound recording and jury’s special prize. It tells the story of a young girl who, trying to win a bet comes to Tehran to take a photo with a Ferrari.

It should be recalled that the FFF nominations in different sections raised serious questions among the cinema community. One of the issues many pointed out was that the excellent performance of Ferrari’s lead actress Tarlan Parvaneh was ignored, while she, at the least, deserved a nomination.

And that was true. Watching the film, one cannot say which one of the two lead actors Parvaneh or Mohsen Tanabandeh has played better. A powerful story full of details with elements of comedy and drama together with pleasant tunes has helped the film to connect effectively with the viewer.

  Horror Film at Midnight

The 2016 Japanese horror/ mystery/ thriller film ‘Creepy’ by Kiyoshi Kurosawa was the first movie to be screened in the festival which had a second special screening due to audience demand.

The 130-minute movie started at 11:05 pm. The hall was packed with about 400 people, the first audiences of the ‘Shadows of Horror’ section, a new addition to this year’s festival.

As all the tickets were sold out and many were clamoring to see the film, another showing was scheduled late in the night at a different hall.

Horror films are a rarity among Iranian productions, and there are probably just about 20 films made in this genre in Iran’s cinema history. However, horror, like elsewhere in the world, has big fans in Iran as well.

According to the regulations, movie theaters in Iran can only screen domestic films (except a couple of certain foreign films which sometimes have one showing), so watching a foreign production in local cinemas, especially a horror film can be considered a unique experience.

Based on a mystery novel by Yutaka Maekawa, ‘Creepy’ tells the story of a former detective who receives a request from his ex-colleague to examine a missing family case that occurred six years earlier. As the movie goes on, the viewer gradually gets clues about the case.

The film is successful in conveying a deep sense of fear and there are scenes that can give viewers higher heartbeats.

Till the end of the festival, every night between 11:00 pm-12:00 am, enthusiasts can watch a horror film at Charsou Cineplex as well as Farhang and Felestin Cinema in Tehran.


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