10th Iranian Film Market for Film and TV Programs - Feb. 4-8, 2007 Tehran
by Mohammad Mohammadian
During the past decade, the Iranian film market has been growing and expanding year by year. And that is what film purchasers and managers of international festivals want. This gives them an opportunity to see tens of Iranian films and to hold talks with Iranian film directors, producers and distributors. Let us bear in mind that this year’s edition of the Iranian film market was held between Rotterdam and Berlin film festivals. It is now so important that many of the festival’s guests feel obliged to be present in the market and International Fajr Film Festival. It was interesting that after the end of the market every one of them was on a hurry to catch their flights! Since four years ago, when the film market became international, many companies have found it a suitable place to offer and introduce their films. Every year, more of these companies join the film market in Tehran. Amir Esfandiari, director of the film market says: “We have had a 30 percent growth in the number of purchasers and vendors during the current year and that is good. We have tried to expand the market for the Iranian films by inviting international customers. Now the film market is international and we are interested in becoming the region’s most popular film market. We have been successful in our recent editions of the market and one could see this in the growth the market has had.”
This year, a large number of the Iranian films were screened for the guests of the market at two theaters simultaneously throughout the day until late at night. Like previous years, there were different views about the films. One of the films that was released this year by CMI and was very welcome was The Night Bus by Kioumars Pourahmad. The story of this film goes on during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Two young Iranian combatants and a bus driver are to take a large group of Iraqi POWs behind the lines after a night journey by bus. But the journey happens to be an eventful one. Although most events take place at night and inside the bus, the “bus” takes the viewers with it successfully to the end of the journey. Pourahmad is a veteran filmmaker who always creates impressive moments in his films. Those who watched the film liked the performances by the young Mehrdad Sedighian and highly experienced Khosrow Shakibai and Mohammad Reza Foroutan. Iranian film critics attached high critical value to this film.
The Dulcimer Player is the latest film by Dariush Mehrjui who started his career with the highly acclaimed Cow in 1969 as one of the founders of the new Iranian cinema. The film, which was screened on the last day of presence of the festival’s guests, was very successful. The story of this film is about a master dulcimer player and a popular singer who becomes a drug addict at the pinnacle of his fame. The film presents good performances by Bahram Radan and Golshifteh Farahani. Its producers are Faramarz Farazmand and Dariush Mehrjui.
Katayoun Shahabi, director of Rasaneh Shahrzad (Shahrzad Media) Company is an active private sector manager in the area of film distribution. She is distributor of A Few Days Later, the second film made by the renowned Iranian young director and experienced actress Niki Karimi. Her first film, One Night, was welcomed in many international film festivals last year. Later, Karimi was a member of the jury at many international film festivals. Like her first film, in A Few Days Later, Karimi deals with problems facing women. The story of the film is about a woman named Shahrzad who is going to experience choosing by making an important decision. Producer of this film is Mohammad Reza Takhtkeshian.
In continuation of their new policies to support the private sector distributors, the International Affairs Department of Farabi Cinema Foundation had offered only a few films in the market. One of the best films they offered was Mainline by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad. The film tells the story of a heroin addict girl whose fiancé is studying in Canada and does not know about her drug abuse. The girl decides to give up drugs one month before her fiancé is going to return to Iran to marry her. The film was welcomed at the film market and was also acclaimed by film critics and viewers at the festival. Bani-Etemad, who has co-directed this film with Mohsen Abdolvahab, says: “The Mainline has not been made to tell a story. Its most important goal is to draw attention to prevention without trying to discuss the underlying causes of addiction.” Baran Kowsari, the daughter of Bani-Etemad and the film’s producer, Jahangir Kowsari, won the festival’s best actress award for her performance in this film.
Another film released by Farabi Cinema Foundation at the film market was The Iranian Carpet. A group of the best Iranian film directors have made short episodes about the Persian carpet. The directors included Abbas Kiarostami, Reza Mirkarimi, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Noureddin Zarrinkelk, Mojtaba Rae’i, Kamal Tabrizi, Dariush Mehrjui, Mohammad-Reza Honarmand, Bahman Farmanara, Behrouz Afkhami, Bahram Baizai, Seifollah Dad, Khosrow Sinai, Jafar Panahi and Majid Majidi.
Some foreign companies, which had their own stands at this year’s film market in Tehran, included: Hilal TV, Adim Produksiyon (Turkey), Russian Cinema Council (Russia), Telewizja Polska S.A. (Poland), Roaah for Culture & Arts (Lebanon), Daro Films (Monaco), Neguin Company SDN. BND. (Malaysia), Ar-Riham Production (Lebanon), Mediatrade (Italy), Multivision Plus (Indonesia), Celluloid Dreams (France), Delphis Films (Canada), Kabul Film (Afghanistan), Mi Film (Canada), Cable Arab Network (France), DW, Urban film, Katarina Peters Film Production (Germany), Haos Film (Greece), Alresalah Satellite Channel (Kuwait).
Compared to previous editions of the film market, there were more Iranian companies present. They included: The 8th Art, The Association of Documentary Film Producers, Arya Sanat Tavakkol, Martyr Aviny Arts and Cultural Institute, Bamdad International Medium, the 21st Century Institute, Cinema 7, Cinemaema website, Cima Media International (CMI), International Affairs Department of Farabi Cinema Foundation, Farhat Film, Farabi Press, Film International magazine, Filmiran, Iranians Arts and Culture Foundation, Young Cinema Association, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, Life International Media, Mahed Film, Misagh Cultural Center, Omid Film, Pars Video, Donyay-e Tasvir (Picture World) magazine, Press TV, Fard Media, Saba Center, Silver Screen, Soroush, Sureh Cinema Development Institute, and Tasvir Aftab-e Shargh.
Documentary and Experimental Film Center, which is managed by Mohammad Afarideh, was among active Iranian institutes of the film market. It had offered a number of its products at a stand supervised by its international trade director Shirin Naderi. One of the films offered by this center was Adam directed by Abdolreza Kahani. It is the story of a village where no one has died for several years. Death arrives in the village in the disguise of a beautiful woman and takes one life. It is an absorbing story about how close death is to people. Mahtab Karamati has a successful performance as death in this film. She was appointed as UNICEF’s “goodwill ambassador” last year. Another film offered to the film market by the center was My Sin, the first film by Mehrshad Karkhani who has started his career as still photographer. He follows in footsteps of the renowned Iranian filmmaker and his teacher, Amir Naderi, by making a social film. It is the story of a young man who falls in love with the daughter of a man he has killed. Karkhani says: “Sometimes you have to pay for your deeds directly and suddenly. Then you have to admit to what you have done or you may simply get away with it as a sinner.”
Tehran Has No More Pomegranates directed by Massoud Bakhshi was another film produced by Documentary and Experimental Film Center. Bakhshi, who is also in charge of the center’s International Affairs Department, has directed many short films. In this documentary film he tells the social history of the Iranian capital, Tehran. The film was acclaimed by the Iranian film critics.
Mohammad Atebbai is another seasoned private sector distributor, who took part at the market with the Iranian Independents offering Three Women (Manijeh Hekmat), Those Three (Naghi Ne’mati) and Rami (Babak Shirinsefat). Three Women is Manijeh Hekmat’s second film after the highly acclaimed The Women’s Prison. It tells the story of three women belonging to three different generations: grandmother, mother, and daughter. Those Three, which was acclaimed in the festival is about three soldiers stranded in snowstorm. Atebbai is very well-known in the film market and is regularly visited by many of the festival’s guests.
Vahid Moussaeian was present in the festival with two films. The Earring is a feature film based on a novel by Houshang Moradi Kermani, the renowned author of children’s books and The Lost Land is a documentary. The Earring is about a little girl called Mahin, who causes trouble for herself and her family by buying a very expensive birthday present for her friend. This is the fifth feature film made by Moussaeian and casts famous actors. Producer of the film is Rouhollah Baradari. The Lost Land is story of a search for a number of Azerbaijan Democratic Party members who have been exiled to Siberia some sixty years ago. The film is the result of a difficult research mission in five countries and features old documentary stills to link the interviews.
The Fired Ones (The Expelled) directed by Massoud Dehnamaki was very popular at this year’s festival and became the viewers’ choice at the end. The film looks at the Iran-Iraq war with a satirical view. Producer of the film is Habibollah Kasehsaz who has produced it in partnership with Documentary and Experimental Film Center.
A large number of managers and officials of international film festivals attended this year’s film market, including Karel Och (Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Czech Republic), Alain Jalladeau & Philippe Jalladeau (Festival des 3 Continents, France), Patrice Carre (Semaine International de la Critique, Cannes, France), Prune Engler (La Rochelle International Film Festival, France), Kathrin Kohlstedde & Sophie Sola-Ferrer (Filmfest Hamburg, Germany). Dimitris Kekrinos (Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece), Italo Spinelli (Roma Cinema Festival, Italy), Giuseppe Gariazzo (Torino Film Festival, Italy), Babak Karimi (Venice Film Festival, Italy), Shozo Ichiyama (Tokyo Filmex, Japan), Mina Oak (Pusan Film Festival, Korea), Anita Piotrowska (Krakow Film Festival, Poland), Robert Richter (San Sebastian Film Festival, Spain) Carlo Chartrian (Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland), Brian Bennett (Bangkok Film Festival, Thailand), Sheila Whitaker (Dubai Film Festival, UAE), Antonia Carver (Edinburgh Film Festival, Scotland), Rose Issa (Berlin Film Festival, Germany), Barbara Scharres (Gene Siskel Film Center, USA).
Other Iranian films that were screened and welcomed at the film market this year were Locksmith by Gholamreza Ramezani, The Last Queen of the Earth by Mohammad Reza Arab, Barefoot in Paradise (Bahram Tavakkoli), The Aster of Silent Town (Amir-Shahab Razaviyan) and The Cold Earth (Reza Sobhani). The Last Queen of the Earth, which is its director’s first feature film, is about a young Afghan living in Iran who sets out for a long journey back home concurrent with US attack on Afghanistan. This film is produced by Sureh Cinema Development Organization.
According to those who visit the Iranian film market every year, it is gaining more and more significance thanks to the importance of the Iranian cinema in the world and the region. That is why many would not miss February in Tehran.
AlexanderThe Defeated Conqueror
By: Aydin Aghdashloo
According to Will Durant, "Alexander was a handsome young man with piercing blue eyes and blonde hair." You could see the balanced composition of his face on the coins remaining from his times. But with his dark eyes located so close to each other, his stiff broken nose and highlighted hair and thin lips and open-ended downfallen mouth, Colin Farrel, the Alexander in Oliver Stone's film, looks more like a young George W. Bush than a young man who “ccording to the description given by his contemporaries was uniquely handsome and fair."
Alexander was the son of Macedonian Philip although inspired by his mother's suggestions, Alexander himself believed to be the son of Zeus the God of all Gods. It was Philip who started the conquest of Greece. He smashed with his well trained army any Greek city which refused to obey his rule. He left his killing machine, the Falangists, as his legacy for his son along with an aspiration to conquer the great Achaemenian empire of Persia.
The young Alexander rose to throne when he was 20. He was born in 356 BC. It took him 13 years to capture the entire Achaemenian Persia from Egypt to India. He died of malaria in Babylon when he was only 33. He had a burning desire to explore and go to the end of the world and Hellenize the whole world although he had ruined Greece - "He demolished Thebes, killed its men and sold its women and children as slaves." – and wherever he stepped, he created a new Alexandria. But unlike what we see in this film or read in the books of history written by his admirers, like his father and later world devourers, this pupil of Aristotle wanted to capture the rich lands laid far away. Whenever his soldiers effused to go ahead, he flared up their greed and promised them further looting.
The main objective of this father and son was conquering the world. They terrorized Greece by defeating Athens and demolishing Thebes and gave themselves a mission which made Macedonia superior in the hands of Macedonian warriors who made Greek honor and perfection extinct.
Isocrates had said previously that "a small company of Greek troops could defeat a whole army of Persians." This was the case indeed as 47 thousand Greek warriors, often homosexuals, defeated the army of Darius III, several times their size but otherwise separated by ethnic differences and lack of a proper command.
Alexander was paradoxical. He loved art and philosophy, he was a commander, generous, ambitious, sensitive, sentimental, constructive and committed and at the same time he was an angry man who let and shed blood easily, he was superstitious, brutal, arrogant, revengeful, destructively violent and melancholic.
He is definitely the most well known conqueror of the ancient world. And as history is authored by conquerors, his many admirers including Plutarch, Bossuet and Montaigne could forgive the destruction of Thebes and the killing of Menander and Hephaestion and all those Iranian captives to his young age and short life and good luck. Historians such as Plutarch have given him such an unbelievable collection of exaggerated attributes of genius that one could hardly look and find a bit of truth in their accounts of his life. On the other hand, another historian, Xenophon finds such a perfect being in Cyrus the Great and writes Cyropaedia not as a realistic account of his life but as the outcome of an endeavor to portray the perfect and ideal man.
With the death of Alexander and the splitting of his territory by and between his numerous warlords, often incompetent ones, the ambition for Hellenizing the world did not last as long as fifty years; while the Achaemenian world endured up to some 200 years after the death of Cyrus. But Alexander's life went on alongside history as of the moment of his death and is still continuing today.
Like other admirers of Alexander's, Oliver Stone developed his character around the ideal man who was so ambitious to want to conquer the world rather than the 24-year-old paradoxical nosy young man. A man who is after an illusion; that of reaching to the end of the world and finding what Iranian historians call "the water of eternal life". A man who rose to power for 13 years thanks to his good luck and ruled over a vast territory before being defeated by a culture he disdained.
The art of film is not indebted to truth and has failed to, or rather has never wanted to, narrate the truth and the whole of the truth. Art is something and history is something else which is written, according to Oliver Cromwell, by a bunch of liars. Oliver Stone's claim about his historical look in films such as Nixon, JFK, Platoon and Salvador has never gone anywhere beyond the populist demand for disclosure. He conceals his left-wing tendencies in the disguise of historical narration. So, it is essential to separate the false and deliberately forgotten layers of his film in order to find out his true intentions. When he made JFK about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the “Time” magazine dedicated a whole issue to separating facts from lies in that film. The magazine found tens of forged points. It is obvious that the director wanted to blame the Cuban expatriates in Florida for the assassination much to the delight of Fidel Castro. He absolutely forged the mysterious character played by Donald Sutherland. Later, he had to apologize for this.
Nixon too is full of added false information and the mixing of right and wrong and true and false. Like Salvador, this film follows a definite hidden agenda. But the artist's selective account of history is nothing new. Neither has it undermined the credibility of such films as Abel Gance's Napoleon, Anthony Mann's El Cid, and Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. The history of cinema has been witness to hundreds of such characterizations. But if the artist is free to tell his own personal selective stories within the frameworks of the accounts of the life of Joseph Stalin, Alexander and Emilio Zapata, then we may believe or not believe these stories. Or we can separate lies from truth. Alexander is a clear example of forgery. I know that a movie is not a history or archaeology class and that it is a work of art and follows a much more profound objective. But it needs to be a work of art regardless of forgery, additions and elimination of facts. If it fails, then the work would be highly vulnerable.
When Gustave Flaubert was about to write Salammbo, he conducted an extensive research on ancient Carthage, the city in which the story takes place. He went to Tunisia in 1875 to see the remains of the city. Yet, after the publication of his book, critics and historians made tens of comments about his factual mistakes. Salammbo may not be as important as Madame Bovary. But it is definitely one of the most important historical novels ever written. It is a full fledged work of art and an example to be followed by anyone who ventures to write a realistic historical novel.
Oliver Stone's Alexander has taken shape based on elimination and exaggeration. This is because he wants to present a perfect image of a conqueror who is also a symbol of the victory of Western civilization over the barbarians who were represented by Persians! In parts of this talkative three hour long boring movie Achaemenians are referred to as Barbarians. But in the Pre-Alexander Greek culture, Barbarians were the nations whose language was not understood by the Greek. The term had nothing to do with brutality and lack of proper culture. It is as simple as that!
Alexander, as a movie, is full of mistakes and fallacies. The film mistakes the battle of Granicus for Gaugamela. It was in Granicus that Cleitus severed the hand of a Persian soldier who made an attempt on Alexander's life. In the movie, Darius III, the king of Persia is a well made up 25-year-old young man. But Darius was 45 when he rose to throne. Roxane, Alexander's Oriental wife, comes from a wrong ethnic background. The film is silent about the huge massacre by the Greek in Iran. Only in Susa they confiscated a huge amount of wealth. They do not set fire to Persepolis in Oliver Stone's movie. Maybe the fire was the result of a short circuit! Reminding that "his soldiers broke into houses in Persepolis, raped the women and killed the men," could have distorted Alexander's generous image! In the first part of the film, Alexander speaks abut liberating the Oriental world. What liberation? Alexander sold so many free men and women in Athens as slaves. But there were no trace of slavery in the Achaemenian empire. Persepolis was built by wage earning workers rather than slaves. Unlike what the film shows the Greek did not paint gibberish paintings on the walls of caves and they definitely never painted a blood stained sword. There is no ancient panting as such anywhere. Philip was not killed in a conspiracy. He was instead killed by a young Macedonian whose chastity was mutilated and whose demand for reparation had been denied by Philip.
The film neglects Alexander's melancholic behavior towards the end of his lifetime. It fails to observe that he ordered the entire residents of a village to be killed for the treason that was committed by their forefathers some five generations ago. There is no explanation about his war against Indians and why pacifist Indians should have been massacred. There is little about the homosexual relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion. Instead this is briefly explained as Platonic relationship. By the way, Hephaestion died in Ekbatan and not in Babylon. There is no trace of Alexander's claims of divinity in the film. He had said that he should be known as the son of Zeus and Amon the Egyptian God. Statira had died much earlier and could not be a witness to Alexander's death. Baguas, the eunuch was killed a long time before the attack and no one knows who is the young guy who is named Baguas and does not say a word.
Nevertheless, cinema tells its own version of history. It selects whatever it needs and sets aside whatever it does not want. The art of film is indebted only to its own creativity and inner structure and can pick any extent of the reality that it needs without having to offer any explanation.
John Ford's The Searchers does not want to reconstruct the reality of 19th century American West. It tells the story of a man's search with a decent intention in mind, but he finds it lost and transformed at the end of his long journey. But Oliver Stone's Alexander does not have such an intention. Nor can it portray such a man; although the motif of remaining alone at the end of the journey is shared between the two films.
Alexander is a silly and rubbish film, made up in haste. From the very beginning a boring monologue by an old Ptolemy imposes a set of presuppositions and leaves the set to Alexander's mother portrayed by a lovely Angelina Jolie who comes of age in this movie so slowly. Not only the relations between Alexander and his mother, Socrates and Philip are not made clear, but no relation has been portrayed meaningfully in this movie. Apparently Hollywood still thinks of the Oriental world in terms of The Arabian Nights and The Thief of Baghdad. Still belly dancers can entertain Alexander in the same way they did Harun Al Raschid. What rubbish!
The long flash back scene of Philip being killed is absolutely in the wrong place, so that one would assume that reels of films have been displaced. Ptolemy as the narrator has no impact on the furthering of the story. The exaggerated performances by Val Klimer (Philip) and Angelina Jolie with her artificial accent are unbelievably banal. Even her tame snakes act badly! Colin Farrell is shouting and crying all the time and has no sign of an intelligent and hesitant Alexander. Costume designs are foolish and the screenplay by Oliver Stone is a catastrophe. It wastes such a long time on Alexander's childhood.
Alexander came to love Persia and its people. He put on their dresses and promoted their rituals. He married to Persian wives and at the end found out ashamedly that it was this decent and first class nation he was calling barbaric. He learned statesmanship from the organized administration that ran a large part of the ancient world. The film simply ignored all that only not to give any concession to the "barbarians". It failed to understand that the splendid Persia and Iranians will make the conquerors surrender for a long time to those they had defeated.
But where does Oliver Stone want to go by compiling this mixture of facts and fallacy? Obviously, he, like his counterpart Michael Moore, wants to convince others about something right through forgery, elimination and distortion. But a right word should be said in the right way. Even in documentary cinema, art is not supposed to pave the way for hatred-packed ideologies. Perhaps Oliver Stone is following Huntington's idea of Clash of Civilizations and hoping in the final victory of the West in the clash between the superior and inferior civilizations! In the beginning of the film when the ring given to Alexander by Hephaestion falls off the dead man's finger, we come to believe that another “Rosebud” is to be looked for. But it is a shame that there is no mystery in this film and its one-dimensional characters. In another look from a place far away, one might be able to find a trace of the 1970 children in the joyful Macedonian children who embarked on a journey from Greece to bring a great empire to its knees. It is in this way that Oliver Stone's Alexander and its message could be understood.
I reach out into the drawer of my desk and fish a fistful of coins, Euro, Drachma, cents, and I find and watch a coin with a picture of Alexander. His profile is looking at the right side and he has dragged the half-lion skin over his head. His face looks calm and dignified. He does not look like Oliver Stone's Colin Farrel at all.
An Exclusive Interview with the secretary general of the section, “Fifteen Days of Directors” at the Cannes Film Festival
Power in the Hands of Youth
By Mohammad Haqiqat
After the crisis of the past two or three years in the section, “Fifteen Days of Directors,” Pierre Henri Duleaux, who was among the founders of this section and directed it for thirty years, stepped down. Olivier Pere is the third person to be selected by the Center for French Directors and Writers. I had made an interview appointment with him and when I arrived at his office, I came across a youth of about 25 years, who appeared to be a student. Believing that he, too, had an appointment with the new secretary general, with surprise I discovered that this youth was Olivier Pere himself. He greeted me with kindness, and as it turned out, his colleagues were as young as he. Restless and energetic, without my asking any question, he opened the conversation.
When was the first time you went to the Cannes Film Festival?
In 1995 or 1996, when I had just begun to work for Paris Cinematheque, as an eager viewer. The second year I visited, I watched films voraciously, even in the film market. One of my friends, who is critic for a weekly, asked me to write critiques on the market films; so my work began as a critic, and I write for the magazine Les Inrocks. I also see many films in Paris, and write articles on B, or Hong Kong, films, and old films. My official work is planning for one of the theaters of Paris’s Cinematheque.
Where does all your excitement come from?
I was born in the port city of Marseilles, and I am 32 years old.
But you appear to be 25.
Thank you! I studied literature for a while at St. Etienne. I have great interest in modern literature. I never attended any film school, but I became enchanted with film as of childhood; I saw many films and read much about cinema. My film school is the movie theater. I came to Paris early in the 1990s, became acquainted with various people, and began to work at Cinematheque. Very soon I realized that I did not want to make films. My interest is more in the screening of films, and serving the film industry. For this reason, in spite of my new position, I continue to work at Cinematheque. Every kind of film is interesting to me, and I include it in my work. From classic and fantasy films to the forgotten films of the history of cinema. In Cinematheque we are fortunate enough to own the most important and comprehensive collection of the world’s films, and we try to screen films from all corners of the world, and especially to train young film lovers. In “Fifteen Days of Directors,” too, this excitement for the discovery and introduction of the films of today’s world will exist. The foundations of the films of the future are laid in a vibrant, spirited and innovative festival.
Will all your colleagues be new people?
Our selection committee comprises four people, each of whom have different tastes; I have know them for a long time, and I trust their judgments. In order to select films, they will travel to various parts of the world – and I will, too. One of them write critiques for Cahiers du Cinema; another works for a video club; a third is a script writer, a graduate of the film school Femis, and the fourth person is among the students of the same school. Therefore, a group of young people, with a new outlook, and new inclinations will select the films. In spite of their young ages, they are quite familiar with film. I want the liveliness, youth, and excitement which existed years ago at “Fifteen Days” to be revived.
Do you make the final decision on selecting a film?
Of course. We exchange views, but naturally I have to make the final decision.
Have you seen films that have drawn your attention for future periods?
Yes. Films that are being made. I have made trips, and I have certain films in mind, but I cannot speak of them at the moment.
As a film lover, to what extent are you familiar with Iranian films?
I confess that I am no specialist in Iranian films. But I have seen a few. I am familiar with Kiarostami’s works. Many years ago I saw a film by him which transformed me. And this is the most brilliant Iranian film that I have yet seen. This film gave me a feeling which I have seldom felt. I have not seen this film for a long time, and I would like to see it again. The film is Close Up, and I am certain that it is Kiarostami’s best film.
Which country in Asia has drawn your attention the most?
It depends on the products of each year. But today the focus is mostly on South Korea, as well as the films of Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan…
What changes will you make in “Fifteen Days of Directors”? Will you make it competitive? Will you review the works and pay tribute to certain people? For example, don’t you want to honor Pierre Henri Duleaux for thirty years of work?
This will not be a competition section. Only the “Federation of Film Art and Experience” presents a prize every year to the outstanding film in this section. Our work is to create the best conditions for the screening of a film for the director and producer. You know that the first film of any director, without any conditions, will become a candidate for receiving the Camera d’Or, and thus far, in this section, many films have won this prize. European Cinema Institute will present a prize for one of the films, selected by their own jury panel. Meanwhile, it has been one or two years that one director is honored with a prize for the collection of his works.
Will you have short films in this section?
Yes. Short films and documentaries, which of course will not be great in number, and each film will be screened twice, along with a session of dialogue and debate with the director.
Do you know the heads of the other sections at the Cannes Film Festival? Considering that you will all have close competition, what will be your relations with them?
Of course. Let me set your mind at rest and tell you that we are not at war with each other. But we will be in strong competition with our kind of view and critics, and this is a natural kind of competition. Of course, today is not like it was before, and it is more difficult to find good films for each of the sections.
For years, German films have not been represented at Cannes. Will you attend to the films of countries that have been less represented at Cannes?
We shall try. Of course, it is not Cannes’ fault. It also depends on the products of that country. I will go to Latin America and other countries, and I hope to find good films. While the films of Europe, the Middle East and Asia are important to me, I will not forget the United States. The U.S. “Independent” films have had a shining presence at the “Fifteen Days of Directors” section for years.
So this year we will see many films at the “Fifteen Days” section. Will they be greater in number than in previous years?
No. It will not be like last year or previous years. Rather, they will be more limited in number, and more innovative and art films will be chosen. One must create a unique atmosphere for the “Fifteen Days of Directors” section so as to differentiate it from other sections and festivals. We don’t want to compete with the competition section and create stars. We will attend more to the essence of cinema. Our tastes and desires are different from those who select films for competition. Meanwhile, French films will also be included in the “Fifteen Days” section; they will not have a separate section.
FACE TO FACE
Kiarostami:The Man with the Digital CameraBy: Mahmood Khoshchereh
Since its premiere at 2002 Cannes Film Festival, 10, the new film by Abbass Kiarostami, has been hailed as an unquestionable masterpiece that can change our perception of cinema forever. While James Quandt in an article in Cinemascope conjectured that 10 might be the best film at the last year’s Cannes (Quandt 46-48), Geoff Andrew praised it in Sight and Sound as “one of the richest of the director’s films” (Andrew 27). The critics of Cahiers du Cinema went even further by extolling 10 as a “Coperniten revolution,” obviously playing on the words “Copernican” and “ten.” (Joyar & Bluin 28-29). But contrary to these loud and roaring declarations, 10 actually reverts to the formal strategies that Kiarostami has already exhausted in his own earlier films such as Homework, First Graders, And Life Goes On and A Taste of Cherry. It also revisits the pressing issue of the social status of women in Iran that other Iranian filmmakers, including Jafar Panahi, have already explored extensively in films like The Circle. There is no question that 10 throws off every sense of conventional narrative by eradicating linearity to a great extent, but this is nothing new in Kiarostami’s cinema. He has always maintained a documentary edge in his films that constantly interacts and overlaps with its fictional framework. Naturally, this narrative strategy tends to fracture the film as the realms of fiction and reality clash and contaminate one another. The Brechtian epilogue of A Taste of Cherry or the last sequence of Close-up evince this disruptive effect adequately as they dislocate our sense of reality by confounding its boundaries with illusion.
Before being catapulted to international fame, Kiarostami made a number of documentaries that usually provide profound insight into the flawed workings of a repressive social system. After fourteen years, Homework (1989) still remains the most devastating indictment of the Iranian educational system. It is not hard to detect in Homework’s explicit denouncement of harsh educational practices a sociological bent that ties in easily with the unmitigated onslaught that 10 tries to launch on prevailing social institutions.