Film lovers who have yet to discover the joys of Iranian cinema are missing out. Thankfully, the UK Iranian Film Festival has their back covered, with a year-long schedule of events, aiming to promote the creative output of a country that has been in recent history overlooked. If the 2012 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar win for Asghar Farhadi’s Joda’i-ye Nader az Simin (A Separation) is anything to go by, this is changing. Yesterday UKIFF hosted a screening of the following four movies:
Nader T Homayoun’s Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution charts the development of a film industry that has been at the heart of Iranian culture for more that 70 years. This is documented alongside a history of the country’s volatile politics, which eulogises on the creativity and talent of his home country’s filmmakers. It is an eloquent work and a must-see for any newcomer to Iranian cinema.
2013 film Actor’s Studio, directed by Alireza Davoudnajed, explores the impact of social changes on one family. Filmed in a meta, documentary style with some surreal dream sequences, the tone is comparable to Curb Your Enthusiasm and is similarly hilarious. There are more serious overtones, however, and an important moralistic message, as implied by the tagline: “the world is going to change.”
At its heart, Negar Azarbayjani’s film Facing Mirrors is a story about the strength of women, although gender lines are blurred as one of two central protagonists is a pre-operative female to male transsexual. For both these reasons, viewers might draw founded comparisons to Pedro Almodovar, though Azarbayjani has his own subtly distinctive technique of storytelling. The film is unpredictable, especially in the first gripping half, when the two characters meet and embark on a drive together. At this point, one might expect a journey typical of a road trip movie but they have to turn back to Tehran, in a move that mimics the relentless drag and pull of oppression.
In Don’t Be Tired, loveably optimistic Morteza quits his job as an unappreciated hotel waiter and spontaneously arranges a trip for two of the guests, a couple visiting from Canada. Driving the comedic van is Hossein who provides a brooding contrast to Morteza’s perpetual cheeriness. Along the way the party come up against small struggles and a variety of characters, which help to parallel a moving back story from the tourist couple’s past. It is a cute, well-executed film that features the best cinematography of the selection and drew the biggest laughs from the audience.
4th London Iranian Film Festival will take place in November but related events will be running throughout the year, for further information visit here.
Watch a summary of last year’s festival here: