Program of Iranian Films

Why is Iranian film unappreciated these days? Perhaps because it shows all those things most Western films do not: poverty, considered shameful by some; naiveté and emotions, which have no material value; birth and death, which nobody even notices anymore. If we add to that basic earthly duality the omnipresent God, the local color of the exotic landscape, as well as the fascination with the new post revolutionary deity - Celluloid, we get the magic spring from which Persian descendants draw their simple and attractive film stories about themselves and their country. We are aware, however, that all fiction from the “fourth” world passes through different ideological, cultural and religious filters. In spite of this, we still believe it -- sometimes even more than our own fabrications. Indeed, Iranian film is a global phenomenon, and quite a few worthy directors represent it.
Even before the great names of the Iranian film renaissance during the 1990s (Kiarostami, Panahi, Majidi and Makhmalbaf), there was for example Sohrab Shahid Sales. The hero of his film Still Life (1974), a railway worker threatened by his monotonous life, poverty and retirement, seems to be the mirror image of the Italian Željezničar and the predecessor of all those yearning children who will appear in the peculiar version of neorealism. If we add to this film Parviz Shahbazi’s Southern Voyager (1996) that follows the cares of an old woman, or the old actor who suddenly leaves the set of his film to be with his dying wife in Cloud and the Rising Sun (Mahmud Kalari, 2000), we will get its emotional prototype.
Nevertheless, the Iranian spirit is ready for other challenges, including life cycles and rural landscapes, such as those in The Tree of Life (Fehrad Mehranfar, 1998), as well as the religious mystic in the omnibus Birth of Butterfly (Mojtaba Rael, 1998). Finally, in the epic spectacle The Saint Mary by Shahriar Bahrani we witness the birth of a Virgin, which conveys that in Iranian film many miracles are yet to come. (Diana Nenadić)