Narges Abyar and Her Critics
Following up on some of our big news from last week, filmmaker Narges Abyar has not finished punching her ticket just yet. Amir Vahdat with the Associated Press brings us more of the story from Tehran, as Abyar goes into further detail about the difficulties of producing her work and the mixed reactions meeting her film, the first to be submitted to the Foreign Film Oscar directed by a woman.
Vahdat provides some pointed criticism from individuals such as General Mohammed Reza Naghdi, a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In reference to Abyar’s Nafas (Breath) being submitted for the Foreign Film Oscar, he says,“The West is already spreading enough negative propaganda against us, so we shouldn’t spend our taxes on such a film.” Hardline Shia conservative cleric Ahmad Alamolhada describes the film as, “This movie is showing exactly what our enemies in the West want to see.”
Vahdat writes: “Art can be a dangerous profession in Iran and filmmakers have fallen into trouble before.”
Director Hamid Nematollah Explains That Film Censorship in Iran is Decreasing
On the flipside, director Hamid Nematollah has another viewpoint on filmmaking in the country. Nassim Khadem for the Sydney Morning Herald reports on a recent interview with Nematollah during his attendance at the Iranian Film Festival Australia (IFFA), noting that it’s his first time in the country.
Nematollah’s new film Rag-e Khab (Subdued) stars the renown Leila Hatami as a recent divorcee whose ex-husband is addicted to drugs. Interestingly, Nematollah made the film alongside his own ex-wife, Masoumeh Bayat: “I had divorced my wife. I wanted to reconcile. So I told her to write a film. We had talked [about] this as a possibility many times before that…I wanted to find a way to make up. But I couldn’t find a way.”
Khadem states that the director “…says he loves Iran and would never leave, because he [feels] his work can help lift Iran’s prosperity…But staying in Iran means constantly testing boundaries of Islamic propriety.” In response to Iran’s ongoing tussling with renegade filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Nematollah says, “I feel that as time passes censorship reduces…Compared with 20 years ago of course it’s reduced. For example, once upon a time you couldn’t show any drugs in movies. There was sensitivity. And then later they became more lenient on that. Or on smoking. Or on not wearing hijabs. Or on relationships between men and women. It’s now more lenient.”
An interesting series of reflections, especially when compared to the work of Nematollah’s peers. The director’s candid observations do qualify how his work differentiates from that of Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami, and Farhadi, in that he eschews positioning politics at the center of his work for something that “[caters] to Iranian tastes.”
European Film Fest Going To Tabriz
The Tehran Film Museum recently hosted a festival of European selections, a schedule which is now extending to the more rural city of Tabriz. European Film Week is expanding, and will be screening 12 short and feature films from European countries, organized through a collaboration between the European Union National Institute of Culture and the Iranian Youth Cinema Society.
Tabriz is the capital of East Azerbaijan Province and has been stimulating tourism and cultural events of late. This year saw the inaugural Tabriz Film Festival, and The Iranian previously reported on the well-known ski-destination qualities of the region.
All-in on Iranian and Indian Films
Continuing stories of Iran-India partnering via the medium continue this week, with new drama Yellow directed by Mostafa Taghizadeh kicking off the 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) in India.
Yellow has been screened in several countries and events, earning accolades in the past year which include the Jury Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Film Festival. The film “narrates the story of four young Iranians Nahal, Hamed, Faramarz, and Nicki, who are the members of a scientific genius team trying to immigrate from Iran to Europe.”
Meanwhile, Majid Majidi (who comes up quite frequently in this weekly report) and his recently-premiered film Beyond The Clouds will be opening the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Majidi explains, “This is my second time at the IFFI, Goa. The first time it was a retrospective of my earlier films and this time, it’s for Beyond The Clouds. I am very happy and curious to see the reactions of the audiences because this is the first time the film will be presented to Indian audiences.”
And, to round things out, Indian press has been all up on in a tizzy about Iranian actor Sajjad Delafrooz, and his new role in the Ali Abbas Zafar’s anticipated film Tiger Zinda Hai. In fact, in this past week, several Bollywood-focused outlets have been circulating the actor’s Instagram photos and centering him as a new kind of (happily married, family-man) sex icon. Descriptions include: “cool,” “handsome,” “quite a hottie,” “gorgeous,” and “super hot villain.”
Tiger Zinda Hai releases in December, and is the sequel to Kabir Khan’s box-office success Ek Tha Tiger.
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