25th Annual Festival of Films from Iran
February 7 through March 1
The Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes you to the “25th Annual Festival of Films from Iran,” February 7 through March 1. Providing a view on contemporary Persian culture through the eyes of Iran’s filmmakers, the festival premieres six films showcasing the production of a nation where cinema is on the cutting edge while filmmakers are often simultaneously at risk for practicing their art. Daring continues to be the word that best describes those who meet many challenges in bringing their work to an international audience.
Thanks to the sponsorship of the ILEX Foundation, we host director Shahram Mokri on opening weekend, February 7 and 8, with his groundbreaking feature FISH & CAT. Surreal, steeped in mystery, and often darkly funny, this award-winning film takes Iranian cinema in new genre directions. Formally innovative in a different vein, Payman Haghani’s playful 316 takes an unusual view of history by means of one woman’s fascination with shoes. WHAT’S THE TIME IN YOUR WORLD? by Safi Yazdanian, starring Leila Hatami (A SEPARATION), brings a dreamy, poetic undercurrent to a cryptic romance.
Mohammad Rasoulof’s MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN received its world premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where an international audience cheered in support of the director. A film so graphic in its fictionalized portrayal of government persecution of art and artists that the cast cannot be identified for fear of reprisal, it is an eye-opener as much for the risks ventured by the filmmakers as for the truth-based aspects of the story.
Filmed surreptitiously under the guise of a series of shorts following Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s self-imposed eight-year ban on narrative filmmaking, her TALES evolves in the finest compassionate tradition of socially conscious Iranian cinema, and features stars including Fatemeh Motamed-Aria (the versatile “Meryl Streep of Iran”) and Peyman Moaadi (A SEPARATION). Director Reza Mirkarimi addresses both the conscience and the heart in his film TODAY, Iran’s submission for Oscar consideration, when an aging cab driver encounters a young pregnant woman in deep trouble.
— Barbara Scharres
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: Niloo Fotouhi, Olga M. Davidson, and the ILEX Foundation; Mohammad Atebbai, Iranian Independents; Nasrine Médard de Chardon, DreamLab Films; Katayoon Shahabi and Kimia Shahabi, Noori Pictures; and Jonathan Hertzberg and Gary Palmucci, Kino Lorber Films. Also: Marian Luntz, MFA, Houston; Tom Vick, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Carter Long, MFA, Boston.
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.
FISH & CAT
MAHI VA GORBEH
2013, Shahram Mokri, Iran, 134 min.
“A tour de force…as quietly political as it is brazenly cinematic.” — Manohla Dargis, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/movies/new-directors-new-films-highlig... New York Times</a>
An innovative thriller with a bold theme of unholy appetites, FISH & CAT builds a creeping sense of dread when a college camp-out weekend feeds the darker instincts of the keepers of a rural roadhouse. In an audacious feature debut, director Mokri defies expectations surrounding the form and content of Iranian cinema with this Mobius strip of a narrative shot entirely in one take (by Mahmud Kalari, cinematographer of A SEPARATION). Humor, happenstance and horror mix uneasily as a slow-burning plot doubles back on itself with confounding glee. Winner of the Horizons Award at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN
2013, Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 125 min.
Wrenching and audacious…crafted with that humane and observational mastery of great Iranian cinema of recent decades.” — Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
“A slow-motion explosion of anti-authoritarian rage…its message could not possibly be more momentous.”
— Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
Laboring under a 20-year ban from filmmaking, director Rasoulof, whose previous films IRON ISLAND and WHITE MEADOWS are forbidden in Iran, takes a dangerous step with this fictional yet fact-based political thriller steeped in darkest absurdity, as devoutly religious government thugs persecute two writers in pursuit of the galleys of a damning book. Changing regimes, shifting agendas, and changing sides are all masterfully underlined as the escalating violence in the name of censorship and suppression is portrayed as just the fallout from another day’s work. Winner of the FIPRESCI (International Critics) prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. In Persian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)