Art And Culture

UCLA Celebrating Cinema of Iran

“The power of the moving image to connect people has been embodied nowhere more profoundly than in the humanism, artistry and courage of Iranian filmmakers”
Posters of ‘Ten’ (L), ‘Hey, Humans’ (C) and ‘Finals’Posters of ‘Ten’ (L), ‘Hey, Humans’ (C) and ‘Finals’

Screening of a selection of Iranian films is underway at the UCLA Film & Television Archive in Los Angeles.

Tilted ‘UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema’, the program, May 6-19, includes 11 films from new voices, current masters and a special tribute to one of contemporary cinema’s most influential and important artists, Abbas Kiarostami (who died last July), Mehr News Agency reported.  

The movies, most of them award winners, resonate beyond specific contexts of Iran to universal themes that all viewers can identify with.

According to the university website, the power of the moving image to connect people otherwise distanced by cultural, political and national divides has been embodied nowhere more profoundly over the last several decades than in the humanism, artistry and courage of Iranian filmmakers. Therefore, the archive has been presenting the best of Iranian productions for almost 30 years.

So far this year, five films have been shown including ‘Life and a Day’ directed by Saeed Roostaee, ‘Lantouri’ by Reza Dormishian, ‘Radio Dreams’ by Babak Jalali, ‘Breath’ by Narges Abyar, and ‘Finals’ by Adel Yaraghi.

  Tribute to Kiarostami

On Saturday, May 13, Kiarostami’s ‘Ten’ will be screened at Billy Wilder Theater in LA. A work of stylistic daring and thematic power, it is a mid-career masterpiece that found Kiarostami working at the height of his career. The screening will be followed by a conversation about his life, work and legacy.

On the same day, ‘76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami’ directed by Seifollah Samadian, a long-time collaborator with the auteur, will also be shown. The documentary depicts years of behind-the-scenes footage shot during their close partnership and allows viewers to watch, without commentary, Kiarostami at work.

The showing of award-winning documentary ‘Starless Dreams’ by Mehrdad Oskouei is slated for May 14. The film is a powerful portrait of young Iranian women struggling with abuse and addiction at a detention facility where they share their stories of pain, hope and resilience.

‘Hey, Humans’, the latest documentary from globally-acclaimed filmmaker Rakhshan Banietemad will also be screened. It extols the tireless work of ‘Chain of Hope Institute’, which connects Iranian children in poverty who have serious heart and orthopedic conditions with international doctors who perform the life-saving surgeries they need.

Reza Mirkarimi’s ‘Daughter’ is scheduled for May 18. The movie, which has won several international awards, tells the story of a girl who sets out for a trip to Tehran from the southwestern city of Abadan to attend a friend’s farewell party, triggering a family crisis.

On May 19, ‘Inversion’ by Behnam Behzadi will be screened. A family drama which premiered in Un Certain Regard at Cannes last year, is centered on Nilafoor, a young independent woman, whose mother’s illness prompts her siblings to start making decisions on her behalf and she is forced to fight back.

 Refugee Crisis

During the previous program of the UCLA Film & Television Archive titled ‘In Transit: Refugees on Film’, the Iran-Afghanistan joint production ‘Parting’ was shown on May 5.

Written and directed by Navid Mahmoudi, the film is as account of a young couple who, facing economic privation and family discord, flee Afghanistan for Europe via Iran where ruthless smugglers waylay them just as their perilous journey begins.

Praising the movie, Los Angeles Weekly wrote, “The death of Abbas Kiarostami last year deprived the world of one of its greatest cinematic artists. Despite the loss, Iran and its immediate neighbors continue to be a center for inventive filmmaking. One voice to recently emerge from the region is Navid Mahmoudi, whose ‘Parting’ was selected as the official Afghan entry for Best Foreign-Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards.”

With the refugee crisis continuing to rage throughout the Middle East and North Africa, this timely story puts a human face on a pressing social issue.

The film won Best Actress Award for Fereshteh Hosseini at Marrakesh Film Festival and the Best Director Award at Busan Film Festival last year.


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