by J. Javid
A project initiated by a group of young Iranian film makers in the U.S. promises to lay the foundations for the growth and maturation of Iranian film outside Iran.
The group has organized several festivals of short films made by Iranians in America, Canada and Europe. The last one was held at the American Film Institute in Washington, DC, in February. Next stops will be in Chicago and Houston.
"Films coming out of Iran are very good but they don't reflect who we are," said Kamshad Kooshan, one of the main organizers. "We live outside Iran and we have a better sense of the issues facing us."
The organizers believe that the festival provides the best opportunity for young Iranian film makers to present their work to large audiences.
On their own, unknown film makers face numerous problems, the least of which is financial. But a group of films dealing with ethnic issues has a much better chance of attracting large audiences, especially among Iranians hungry for cultural material, organizers say.
But Kooshan and his colleagues at the Iranian American Film Forum (IAFF) in Oakland, California, have bigger things in mind.
"We hope that one day Iranians here will be able to make very visible and commercially successful films like the Chinese-Americans did with 'The Joyluck Club' or like films Spike Lee has made," Kooshan said.
Kooshan, whose work "The Last Illusion" is among six short films in the traveling festival, says quality was not the main criteria in selecting the films. What was more important was the representation of Iranians in the different parts of the world.
"Art has a central part in our lives," Kooshan said. "Film helps a lot in clarifying our identity and showing our existence as a community."
The other short films in the festival are "Peaceful Sabbath" (Bobak Shokrian, U.S.), "A Letter to Armita" (Kambiz Koulajie, Canada), "He and She" (Teja and Aviz Mirfakhrai, Norway), "Treason" (Hormoz Nabili, Canada) and "One Kronen" (Davood Akhavian, Sweden).
For more information about the festival's next stop and for submitting films in future festivals, contact the IAFF by dialing this telephone number in the U.S.: 510-547-1350.