24th Annual Festival of Films from Iran

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  1. 24th Annual Festival of Films from Iran

The Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes you to our 24th edition of the Festival of Films from Iran, taking place for the first time in a new time slot in the cultural calendar, February 7 through 28. Providing a view on contemporary Persian culture through the eyes of Iran’s filmmakers, this year’s festival of seven films includes one North American premiere, two U.S. premieres, and four Chicago premieres.

Daring takes many forms as Iranian filmmakers continue to overcome challenges and circumvent taboos in order to bring their work to the world. Entertainingly and graphically elucidating some of those challenges, most especially censorship, Iranian American director Jamsheed Akrami’s documentary A CINEMA OF DISCONTENT includes interviews with prominent directors and a host of illustrative film clips.

Peyman Moaadi, best known as the co-star of A SEPARATION, tackles the subject of adultery in his directorial debut SNOW ON PINES, which was previously banned in Iran. Subjects including adultery, marital discontent, and premarital sex are the domain of Rouhollah Hejazi in THE PRIVATE LIFE OF MR. & MRS. M and THE WEDLOCK.

Moral and personal complications arise for a kindergarten teacher attempting to save a man from execution in THE BRIGHT DAY, a film that swept Tehran’s 2013 Fajr Film Festival awards. Transgression is the theme of PARVIZ, a film that shockingly undermines assumptions about family and community.

In the most unusual take on Iranian cinema yet, the documentary MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS chronicles the wacky heartfelt efforts of a self-taught filmmaker from Shiraz, who devotes his life and resources, not always wisely, to work in the vein of John Ford and Sergio Leone. Absolutely a must-see!

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; Nasrine Médard de Chardon, DreamLab Films; Katayoon Shahabi and Navid Karimpour, Noori Pictures; PicArt Film Distribution; and Ali Ghasemi and Fahimeh Poorghasem, Visual Media Institute. Also: Marian Luntz, MFA, Houston; Tom Vick, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Carter Long, MFA, Boston; and Jamsheed Akrami.

The Festival of Films from Iran would not be possible without the vital interest and generous support of many friends including: Mehrnaz Saeedvafa, Artistic Consultant; Amir Normandi, Community Affairs Consultant; Simin Hemmati-Rasmussen, Cultural Affairs Consultant; and Narimon Safavi, Pasfarda Arts & Cultural Exchange.

—Barbara Scharres

SUNDAY DOUBLE-BILL DISCOUNT!

Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first Festival of Films from Iran film on February 9, 16, or 23, and get a ticket for the second Iranian film that day at this discount rate: General admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second film only.Tickets must be purchased at the same time in person at the Film Center box office.)

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF MR. & MRS. M

Showtimes

Fri, Feb 7th at 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 9th at 5:00pm
Average: 2.4 (7 votes)

U.S. premiere!

  1. THE PRIVATE LIFE OF
  2. MR. & MRS. M
  1. (ZENDEGI-E KHOSOUSI-E AGHA VA KHANOM-E MIM)
  2. 2012, Rouhollah Hejazi, Iran, 80 min.
  3. With Mahtab Keramati, Hamid Farrokhnejad

The fault lines in a marriage become evident when an out-of-town couple and their child arrive for a corporate trade show at a Tehran hotel. Accustomed to berating his pretty wife for her shy demeanor and her suburban manner, the husband is taken aback when she blooms under the attentions of a male colleague and is given a role in planning his company’s presentation. Director Hejazi
(THE WEDLOCK, February 22 and 23) displays a talent for portraying the subtle shifts in a relationship through glances and body language. In Persian with English subtitles. Digital video. (BS)

SNOW ON PINES

Showtimes

Sat, Feb 8th at 8:15pm
Sun, Feb 9th at 3:00pm
Average: 2.6 (11 votes)

North American premiere!

  1. SNOW ON PINES
  1. (BARFROO-YE KAJHA)
  2. 2013, Peyman Moaadi, Iran, 92 min.
  3. With Mahnaz Afshar, Saber Abbar

SNOW ON PINES, the directorial debut of award-winning actor Moaadi (A SEPARATION), was banned in Iran for more than a year. In a contemporary urban story of adultery, a young piano teacher in a May-December marriage discovers that her affluent, elegantly graying husband’s extended business trip abroad is more than it seems. The stripped-down quality of the black-and-white cinematography puts the evolving subtleties of emotion in the foreground as a wife caught between social convention and the grief of abandonment weighs her options. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)

PARVIZ

Showtimes

Fri, Feb 14th at 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 16th at 4:45pm
Average: 3.2 (11 votes)

Chicago premiere!

  1. PARVIZ
  1. 2012, Majid Barzegar, Iran, 105 min.
  2. With Levon Haftvan, Homeyra Nonahali

“Darkly comic…oddly compelling.”
—Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter

Emblematic of a new, eccentrically subversive strain of Iranian cinema, PARVIZ has as its increasingly horrifying anti-hero the 50-year-old hulk of a passive-aggressive bachelor son (theater director/activist Haftvan), whose free ride in life screeches to a halt when his miserly widowed father forms a plan to remarry. Employing a dark, sly method, director Barzegar (RAINY SEASONS) unreels a poisonous course of revenge that gives a rude poke in the eye to societal norms. Special Jury Mention at the San Sebastián Film Festival. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)

See video

MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS

Showtimes

Sat, Feb 15th at 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 16th at 3:15pm
Average: 3.3 (12 votes)

Chicago premiere!
Mehrnaz Saeedvafa in person!

  1. MY NAME IS
  2. NEGAHDAR JAMALI
  3. AND I MAKE WESTERNS
  1. (MAN NEGAHDAR JAMALI WESTERN MISAZAM)
  2. 2012, Kamran Heidari, Iran, 65 min.

The six-shooters are blazing and the bad guys flamboyantly bite the dust. With cowboy hats pulled low, these gunslingers hurl menacing insults at each other in Persian. This oft-hilarious making-of saga follows the misadventures of Jamali, an obsessed Shirazi hobbyist filmmaker who has been churning out his own unique films in the manner of John Ford and Sergio Leone since the days of Super-8. Risking his marriage and mortgaging his life to the hilt, the maestro recruits his friends to begin his newest and most ambitious opus. In Persian with English subtitles. Digital video. (BS)

Mehrnaz Saeedvafa, faculty member in the Cinema Art +Science Department at Columbia College, Chicago, filmmaker, and co-author of the book Abbas Kiarostami, will discuss the film following the Saturday screening.

THE BRIGHT DAY

Showtimes

Fri, Feb 21st at 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 23rd at 3:15pm
Average: 4.7 (18 votes)

Chicago premiere!

  1. THE BRIGHT DAY
  1. (ROOZ-E ROSHAN)
  2. 2013, Hossein Shahabi, Iran, 86 min.
  3. With Pantea Bahram, Mehran Ahmadi

Winner of five awards, including Best Actress, at Tehran’s 2013 Fajr Film Festival, THE BRIGHT DAY weaves a story that has its roots in the complexity of Iran’s draconian laws governing capital punishment. A kindergarten teacher hopes to aid the father of one of her young students, a man accused of manslaughter, by convincing each of seven reluctant witnesses to come forward. No one lacks a hidden agenda in this drama in which shades of truth collide with self-interest and the specter of payback. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)

THE WEDLOCK

Showtimes

Sat, Feb 22nd at 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 23rd at 5:15pm
Average: 2.7 (9 votes)

U.S. premiere!

  1. THE WEDLOCK
  1. (ZENDEGI MOSHTARAK-E AGHAYE MAHMOODI VA BANOO)
  2. 2013, Rouhollah Hejazi, Iran, 82 min.
  3. With Taraneh Alidoosti, Hamid Farrokhnejad

The renovation of a rambling family homestead becomes a metaphor for an unexpected assault on traditional family values when a newly married twenty-something brings her architect husband to draw up the plans for her aunt and uncle’s rehab job. The young couple’s rancorous relationship hints at deeper problems, and director Hejazi (THE PRIVATE LIFE OF MR. & MRS. M, February 7 and 9) explores a bitter generation gap through the disquieting introduction of premarital sex, adultery, and women’s freedom. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)

A CINEMA OF DISCONTENT

Showtimes

Fri, Feb 28th at 6:15pm
Average: 2.3 (6 votes)

Chicago premiere!

  1. A CINEMA OF DISCONTENT
  1. 2013, Jamsheed Akrami, USA, 86 min.

“Impressive…enriching for those who follow Iranian cinema closely and an eye-opener for less worldly film buffs.”
—John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Why are women in Iranian movies wearing headscarves in bed, or even when blow-drying their hair? Why is there no kissing? These and other questions are answered and illustrated through a host of revealing film clips in this thoroughly entertaining and enlightening documentary. Filmmaker Akrami comprehensively explores the censorship codes and religious taboos that leave some Iranian filmmakers in despair, or in prison, and lead others to increasingly artful subterfuge. Interviews include Asghar Farhadi (A SEPARATION), Jafar Panahi (THIS IS NOT A FILM), Bahman Ghobadi, and more. In English and Persian with English subtitles. DigiBeta video. (BS)

See video