Darius Kadivar
by Darius Kadivar

Iranians Finally Connect with World Cinema in 2007’s eventful year

The Year 2007 will certainly be remembered in Iranian Film History equally for both the Diaspora and compatriots back home thanks to the critical and Box Office Success of Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronnaud’s animated masterpiece Persepolis.

The Year 2007 will certainly be remembered in Iranian Film History equally for both the Diaspora and compatriots back home thanks to the critical and Box Office Success of Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronnaud’s animated masterpiece Persepolis. Never has any film ( particularly first film) by an Iranian compatriot achieved such an incredible marathon towards both Box Office Success and world wide critical acclaim. Apart from the Islamic Republic’s incompetent and dishonest cultural censors few observers and critics ever doubted on the artistic accomplishment and Box Office Potential of the two novice filmmakers original movie when in a rare spontaneous gesture at its first screening at Cannes the entire audience paid a 20 minutes Standing Ovation to the Movie and its creators. What was to follow was the Jury Prize at Cannes that in the past has revealed such enduring talents as Ridley Scott (The Duellists), Costa Gavras (Z), Patrice Chereau ( La Reine Margot), Ken Loach (Raining Stones), Samira Makhmalbaf ( Five in the Afternoon) or Lars Von Trier (Europa) to name a few. It was followed by numerous nominations at World film festivals worldwide and in the course won two French Oscars ( Les Césars) and nominations at the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Film and the Oscars for Best Animation. Losing in the two previous Awards can hardly be considered as a Failure for as the Great French Star Alain Delon so rightly said upon opening Marion Cotillard winning Envelope at the French Oscars ( Les Césars) for her breathtaking performance in La Vie En Rose: “ The Nominees as much as the Winner are now part of the Family of Cinema!”.

The unpredictable success of Persepolis which to date has drawn more than One and a Half Million Viewers Only in France and its DVD Release has been an equally Big Hit will remain a milestone not only for Iranian Diaspora Cinema but also as part of France’s film heritage and dare I say World Cinema thanks to all the media attention and coverage’s the film has deservingly had. It has also paved the way for what is unique for the Iranian film community since the Revolution of 1979 in that for the first time Iranian talents are once again connected with Film Legends of European and Hollywood Cinema. It also confirmed the ever growing desire for such comopolitan collaborations between Iranian and western talents that were expressed prior to Persepolis’ International success in smaller budget film productions as Babak Shokrian’s America So Beautiful, Shabnam Rezaei and Dustin Ellis’ Babak and Friends: A First NoRooz , Kayvan Mashayekh’s The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam, or Jay Jonroy’s David and Layla all of which have been warmly received at various Iranian Diaspora film festivals.

Interestingly as Hollywood honored Marion Cotillard for her performance as the French Singing Sparrow Edith Piaf ( Edith’s nickname “Piaf” was a French slang for Sparrow), the Berlin International Film Festival chose to award former Oscar Nominee director Majid Majidi’s actor Reza Najie for his equally touching performance in Majidi’s “The Song of the Sparrows”. The same film festival also awarded Hana Makhmalbaf for her powerful film Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame with the Crystal Bear which was also awarded a few months earlier at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

2007th Cannes Film Festival also confirmed the filming of Kiarostami’s next film “Certified Copy” with two French Stars’ Oscar Awardee Juliette Binoche and French New Wave Legendary Star Sami Frey. An announcement that also strengthens Kiarostami’s European presence since his successful collaborative direction with Britain’s Ken Loach and Italy’s Ermanno Olmi on Tickets.

The collective effort and achievements of Iranian film talents both inside and outside Iran is finally bearing fruit in ways that seemed both unpredictable and unachievable despite critical acclaim of Iranian New Wave Cinema since Abbas Kiarostami’s Palm D’Or recognition back in 1997. Given the negative image of Iranians worldwide which was unfortunately enhanced by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad’s radical not to say downright foolish political and ideological comments such as denying the reality of well known facts as the Holocaust tragedy or the existence of Homosexual’s in Iran , while undermining Iran’s chances of benefiting from Nuclear Technology in nearly laughable or morbid public stances by calling to wipe Israel off the Map or claiming that a 16 year old Iranian student had created nuclear energy in her kitchen it is all the more encouraging to notice that Iran’s intellectual and Arts community is making a difference in defending the true humanistic values of our culture that have defined us in the past.

These great artists are above all great human beings whose stamina, individual courage and love for their country and countrymen and countrywomen would make their peers admiration. Iran once known as Persia has been a cradle of human civilization developing its genius in all fields of the Arts throughout its history outliving Dynasties and successive invasions. It has always resurfaced and raised from its ashes as the Legendary Persian Phoenix. Today as never before in its history its Art, culture and civilization is finally becoming available not only to the Iranian community but beyond its own frontiers. This is a great opportunity for linking Iranian Artists both belonging to the Diaspora and those working and living in our homeland Iran. It is also a great opportunity to connect with World Cinema in general and encourage the imagination of our talented filmmakers and actors as well as celebrate the rich colorful diversity of our culture which is best defined by it’s Love of Beauty, its tolerance and last but not least love of Humanity.

May 2008 and the years to come confirm this Triumphal Cinematographic Start and encourage that essential ingredient to all Creation that is : The Freedom to Imagine !



Authors Notes:

Article Reproduced from PersianMirror

Recommended Readings:

DEUX FOIS: Persepolis Wins 2 French Oscars and Enters French Film History! By Darius KADIVAR

Iranian Pioneers in French Cinema by Darius KADIVAR


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