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Dutch Programmer Has Sights on Iran Films

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Polish actress Maria Mamona: The movies tell about your country and your customs. Although they are about your people and their life here (in Iran), they can be understood everywhere
Dutch Programmer Has Sights on Iran Films Dutch Programmer Has Sights on Iran Films

Bianca Taal, programmer of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in the Netherlands, is a guest of the 35th Fajr International Film Festival and is in Tehran to select films from among recent Iranian productions for the Dutch festival.

“It is a great opportunity to meet with people to know about films that may not be screened here yet, but are coming up so we can hopefully have Iranian films in the world premiere at the next Rotterdam Festival,” she said.

The Dutch festival lays strong emphasis on emerging talent; the competition is for first or second time filmmakers and there is a separate section dedicated to the “cinema of discovery” that is about filmmakers who dare to push boundaries, tell stories in a new way, experiment with form and storytelling. There are also sections which highlight the works by more experienced filmmakers who have gained a personal signature.

“Being adventurous, so to say, is something we cherish very much at the festival,” Taal told the Financial Tribune adding that they have at least one or two Iranian feature films in the festival which bear the above-mentioned qualities.

This is the second time she is attending the Fajr Festival. The first was three years ago. “The festival location has changed and the (film) market looks much bigger and livelier. The program looks very exciting so I am curious to discover films that are being screened,” Taal said, adding Iranian cinema is famous worldwide.

“Four years ago I became programmer of Rotterdam Festival and since then I have been discovering new and upcoming filmmakers.”

‘The Pot and the Oak’ directed by Iranian filmmaker, script writer and video artist Kiarash Anvari was one of the films at the 46th IFFR (January 25-February 5).

When asked about differences or similarities between Iranian and Dutch films, Taal said, “There are big differences between the stories that are being told in the Netherlands and in Iran. Cinema, in some way, is usually a reflection of the world around us and that is one of the differences.”

She also believes that unlike Iran, the Netherlands has not seen a wave of filmmaking in a certain style, incorporating social and family drama that has traveled far and wide internationally.

  Polish Actress on ‘Blindness’

One of the movies competing in the Cinema Salvation International Competition section of the Fajr Festival is the Polish drama ‘Blindness’ (2016) written and directed by Ryszard Bugajski.

The film shows an obscure episode from the life of a Stalinist criminal – Colonel of the Office of Public Security, Julia Brystiger. Her nickname was “Bloody Luna” because during interrogations she tortured prisoners with extreme cruelty.

Polish actress Maria Mamona who plays the lead role as Julia Brystiger is in Tehran to attend the Q and A sessions after the film screenings.

This is her first time not just in Iran but in the Middle East region. However, Mamona knows about Iranian films as “they are quite famous.” She has seen Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Salesman’ and ‘A Separation’ and liked both very much.

“The films tell about your country and your customs; and although they are about your people and their life here (in Iran), they can be understood everywhere,” she told the Tribune.

Her film ‘Blindness’ has attended festivals in Toronto, Palm Springs, Atlanta and Hong Kong, and Mamona has received an award for best actress at a Polish festival. During her 40 years of acting career, she has performed in more than 45 films and TV series.

The 35th FIFF is underway in Tehran, April 21-28.


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