0726 GMT February 17, 2018
Iran Daily conducted exclusive interviews with three cineastes attending the 35th Fajr International Film Festival (FIff).
Bright future awaits Iranian cinema
The future belongs to Iranian cinema and filmmakers, said Iranian actor Homayoun Ershadi in an interview with Iran Daily.
Giving his opinion on Iranian cinema, he said, "If you put Hollywood and Bollywood aside, no other country in the world is as important as Iran in terms of cinematic position. Iranian cinema is at the level of the best in the world in terms of acting techniques and cinematography, and some of our cast and crew members are even better than worldwide superstars. We also have people involved in other categories of the industry who could compete with the best in the world. That is because we have so many talented people in the business who could push Iranian cinema forward, if provided with more facilities."
Pointing out the current position of Iranian cinema in the world, he said that before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian cinema was recognized in the world through movies such as 'The Cow' by Dariush Mehrjui, which was praised in several film festivals.
However, it was after the Islamic Revolution that Iranian cinema made a reputation for itself in the world; and the major part of the credit goes to Abbas Kiarostami, he noted.
He added, "Of course, some film critics are not a fan of his movies, but no one can deny the credibility that he brought to Iranian cinema's international recognition."
Asghar Farhadi has followed his footsteps in recent years, said Ershadi.
Speaking about the prospects for the Iranian film industry, he said, "I believe the future belongs to Iranian cinema if only the restrictions and redlines are dimmed and directors and screenwriters are given more freedom and independence. Of course, the situation is gradually changing and we cannot overcome obstacles overnight. The criticism was brought up inside the country when 'A Taste of Cherry' won the major prize in Cannes nearly 20 years ago, but these awards cleared the way for other Iranian films and filmmakers to find their way into the world stage, as nowadays you can see features from Iran in many film festivals. I am so optimistic about the future for young Iranian filmmakers for they are full of talent and creativity."
Asked about his view on the Fajr Film Festival and the movies screened in the event, he said, "As you know, the context of the films in the Oscars are commercial, and Cannes focuses on the artistic aspects of the industry. I believe there is an artistic approach to the Fajr Film Festival; however, we need to bring more foreign than Iranian films, and more famous filmmakers to the festival. Of course, a good decision was made to hold the international category separately, which makes it more reputable in the world. On the other hand, the festival should move toward further independence, which does not necessarily mean that the government should slash funds, but they should avoid interfering in the decision process on film selection and judging.
Anthropocentrism should be considered in choosing top Fajr productions
Anthropocentrism and the problems of a 21st century should be taken into consideration in selecting the winners of the 35th FIff, a stage and screen director and instructor said.
Mohammad Rahmanian noted that Fajr film festival should include lessons from the past and can be used for a better future.
He said that the selection of films for final screening is entrusted to the members of the selection committee thus ensuring that the final line-up of the festival enjoys high quality.
Speaking about the participation of 23 French films in the current edition of the festival, he said that close cultural ties between Iran and France' are rooted in Iranian cinema.
Cannes Film Festival is a prestigious event which played a very effective role in introducing Iranian filmmakers to the world. Cinematic works by Jafar Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami, Amir Naderi and Bahram Beyzaei were among the works which gained international fame through the French festival.
Turning to Fajr film festival, Rahmanian said holding separate sections for screening domestic and international films helps make the event more organized.
He said that a lot of high-quality Iranian films took part in international festivals and were highly welcomed by world's leading cinematic figures as well as the public.
Iranian filmmakers found their way to international festivals and deserve global awards, he said.
At present, Iranian cinema is considered one of the most reputable world cinemas and the fame of Iranian filmmakers is widely acknowledged abroad.
Iranian movies against the negative propaganda
Iranian movies foil the negative propaganda against Iran, said the chief of an Iranian movies distribution center in France who is attending this year's FIff film market.
The film fair of 35th FIff is held to trade films and develop joint productions among the countries participating in the festival. There will be 47 pavilions at the fair hosting 19 foreign companies from Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Lebanon, the UK and India, among others as well as 28 Iranian filmmaking companies.
Director of Green Shot Film Center in Paris Kazem Mousavi is among the participants in the festival and the film fair in Tehran.
He told Iran Daily, "We work in the field of production and distribution of Iranian movies and also collaborate with Iranian film makers on jointly produced movies in France."
He contended that Iranian movies are hugely appreciated in France and Asghar Farhadi specifically has made quite an impression in France in recent years. 'A Separation' is the bestselling Iranian movie in the history of France and his latest movie 'The Salesman' has been on the screen for one month and has been well received. He added that non-commercial Iranian movies are well known in France through films by Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Abolfazl Jalili.
Many in France seek to observe the cultures other rather than their own in the movies and therefore our stories, culture and traditions are attractive for them, he said.
Unfortunately there is a negative propaganda against Iran at the international level and Iranian movies play a major role to rectifying that political ambience, he said. When a foreigner watches an Iranian movie for the first time he realizes that all he had heard about Iran was wrong and untrue.
He also pointed to the participation of French movies in Fajr saying that Iranian and French cinema have always been on good terms and two recent Oscar winner Iranian movies having French worldwide distributers has even made the relations better.
Speaking about the French cinema, he said that France is considered to be the second best in the industry next to US cinema while Cannes Film Festival is recognized as the most important film festival in the world.
Pointing out to the political considerations in film selection and judging the festivals, he said since nearly 75 percent of the funds needed for Cannes Film Festival is provided by France's Foreign Ministry, this can neither be ruled out nor confirmed.
Mentioning the importance of Cannes, he said the festival will be held in Cannes in a month and there will be nearly 6,000 reporters covering the event in addition to the film producers and distributors.
He also said the decision to hold the international section separately from other Iranian contests was a good one since it places the festival at the level of major international film festivals. "I have also watched some really good movies in the festival so far."