23rd Annual Festival of Films from Iran
- 23rd Annual Festival of Films from Iran
The Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes you to our “23rd Annual Festival of Films from
Iran,” October 6 through November 1, providing a view on contemporary Persian culture through the eyes of Iran’s filmmakers. This year’s festival includes five U.S. premieres and two Chicago premieres.
Actress Leila Hatami, star of the Oscar-winning A SEPARATION, is featured in our opening film THE LAST STEP, a mystery-laden drama directed by and co-starring her real-life husband Ali Mossafa. Strange apparitions and mysteries of another sort grace Rasoul Sadr-Ameli’s ethereally spiritual film WAITING FOR A MIRACLE.
Iranian comedies are most often domestic viewing, while the serious dramas make it to Western festivals and venues. We buck that trend this year with NO MEN ALLOWED, the directorial debut of popular TV comic Rambod Javad, in which the battle of the sexes plays out in an all-girls high school. Although not strictly speaking a comedy, black humor is a subtle subtext in MOURNING by Morteza Farshbaf, a protégé of Abbas Kiarostami.
A search for identity is the prevailing theme in three films. The futures of a transgender woman and a shy housewife are each redirected in the course of FACING MIRRORS by Negar Azarbayjani. A filmmaker recognizes some ancient truths in the course of finding an apartment in his documentary MY HOME by Mohsen Amiryousefi. Another documentary filmmaker, Mehdi Bagheri, chafes under his father’s thumb in the self-portrait RELUCTANT BACHELOR.
The Gene Siskel Film Center thanks the many individuals, companies, and agencies in Iran and in the U.S. whose invaluable efforts, good will and support have made this year’s festival possible. Special thanks to Farabi Cinema Foundation, an agency which promotes Iranian cinema around the world, and its international affairs director Amir Esfandiari; Mohammad Atebbai, Iranian Independents; Alireza Shahrokhi, IRIB Media Trade; Katayoon Shahabi, Sheherazad Media International; Jeremy Quist, Global Film Initiative; and Jeffrey Winter, The Film Collaborative.
The “Festival of Films from Iran” would not be possible without the vital interest and generous support of many friends including: Mehrnaz Saeed-vafa, Artistic Consultant; Amir Normandi, Community Affairs Consultant; Simin Hemmati-Rasmussen, Cultural Affairs Consultant; Hossein Khandan; Franklin Lewis, University of Chicago; Mohammad Pakshir; Hamid Naficy, Northwestern University; Ahmad Sadri, Lake Forest College; and Narimon Safavi, Pasfarda Arts & Cultural Exchange.
- THE LAST STEP
- (PELEH AKHAR)
- 2012, Ali Mossafa, Iran, 88 min.
- With Leila Hatami, Ali Mossafa
“Blending elements of whodunit mystery, love triangle, and poetic meditation on mortality…yet another reminder that Iran is awash with world-class filmmakers.”
—Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
“An idiosyncratic, imaginative film tinged with ironic melancholy.”
—Jessica Kiang, Indiewire.com
Grief, guilt, and memories of lost love intersect in the psyche of Leili (Hatami, of the Oscar-winning A SEPARATION), a beautiful screen actress whose husband has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Marital tension is an overriding theme as director Mossafa, who also stars opposite his real-life wife Hatami, weaves a labyrinthine plot rife with literary references ranging from Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” to Joyce’s “The Dead,” with a bit of SUNSET BOULEVARD for added spice. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP video. (BS)
- FACING MIRRORS
- (AYNEHAYE ROOBEROO)
- 2011, Negar Azarbayjani, Iran/Germany, 102 min.
- With Shayesteh Irani, Ghazal Shakeri
“Fascinating dual character study…excellent.”
—Ronnie Scheib, Variety
Iran’s first narrative feature film to deal with a transgender character is both touching and surprising in its complexity. Two women, each in difficult straits, meet by chance and form a bond across a wide divide of values, belief and class. Rana (Shakeri), a shy, thoroughly devout wife and mother, drives a taxi while her husband is in prison. Adineh, aka Eddie (Irani, of Panahi’s OFFSIDE), is desperately fleeing an arranged marriage and a father unwilling to accept that she’s a man trapped in a woman’s body. In the course of a back-roads journey, fate will make them family under the skin. In Persian with English subtitles. DigiBeta video. (BS)
- WAITING FOR A MIRACLE
- (DAR ENTEZAR-E MOJEZEH)
- 2011, Rasoul Sadr-Ameli, Iran, 82 min.
- With Hamid Farrokhnezhad, Parivash Nazariyeh
Themes of self-discovery and search have characterized the films of Sadr-Ameli (THE GIRL IN THE SNEAKERS; I AM TARANEH, 15). His quests have assumed a spiritual dimension in recent years, with films including THE NIGHT. In WAITING FOR A MIRACLE, a train journey manifests distinctly ghostly qualities as an estranged couple accompanies their crippled child to the shrine city of Mashad. The line between reality and fantasy, and between now and a projected hereafter, becomes increasingly blurred as this eerie and cryptic story unfolds. In Persian with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (BS)
- 2011, Morteza Farshbaf, Iran, 85 min.
- With Kiomars Giti, Sharareh Pasha
“A blackly comic road trip that may herald the arrival of a major new Iranian talent.”
—Ali Jaafar, 56th BFI London Film Festival program
“An almost perfect debut feature film.”
—Rwita Dutta, FIPRESCI.org
A protégé of Abbas Kiarostami, director Farshbaf sets this first feature on the switchback mountain roads that are iconic in his mentor’s films. A couple argues vigorously in their car while a child, their nephew, looks on from the backseat; there are subtitles but no sound. Still reeling from news of a family tragedy, the man and woman, who communicate in sign language, juggle decisions about the boy’s future. Mishaps and delays along the road will have far-reaching consequences in a story told with wit and unexpected humor. MOURNING is co-presented by the Global Film Initiative and is part of the Global Lens 2012 film series. In Persian with English subtitles. DigiBeta video. (BS)
Screenwriter Anahita Ghazvinizadeh will be present for audience discussion on Saturday, and will introduce the film on Sunday and be present for informal discussion in the Gallery/Café.
- NO MEN ALLOWED
- (aka NO ENTRY FOR MEN)
- (VOROOD AGHAYAN MAMNOO)
- 2011, Rambod Javan, Iran, 102 min.
- With Pegah Ahangarani, Reza Attaran
There’s something irresistible about this comic farce set in an all-girls high school that has never permitted a man to cross the threshold. Against her better judgment, sternly protective spinster principal Ms. Darabi is forced to hire a male substitute teacher to coach her chemistry team for the big tournament against an all-boys school. Chaos ensues, and it’s played for laughs galore, with every goofy battle-of-the-sexes stereotype dusted off and made new again in an Iranian context. First-time director Javan is one of Iran’s most popular TV comedy stars. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP video. (BS)
- RELUCTANT BACHELOR
- (PIR PESAR)
- 2011, Mehdi Bagheri, Iran, 58 min.
Two personal documentaries explore the meaning of home while offering revealing insights into the lives of 30-something single Iranian males. RELUCTANT BACHELOR provides an intimate look at the life of filmmaker Bagheri, engaged in a family feud of his own making while living uneasily in his father’s house. Beta SP video.
2012, Mohsen Amiryousefi, Iran, 50 min.
MY HOME charts the real estate adventures of filmmaker Amiryousefi as he sets out in search of a condo in pricey Tehran with a miniscule budget but exacting tastes. A dawning realization of the emotional power of ownership takes hold. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP video. (BS)