0702 GMT February 17, 2020
As in previous years, the 34th Fajr International Film Festival is scheduled for February 1-11 in Tehran's Milad Tower. The films will be screened for the general public and then judged in cinemas in Tehran as well as in other provinces.
Although the films will be officially screened on February 1, the opening ceremony will be held today at Tehran's Vahdat Hall and the complete list of the films for screening will be announced.
According to experts, 55 films will be screened in the competition section of the festival.
Iran Daily interviewed Bahman Abdollahi, a member of Iranian Film Critics and Writers Society to learn more about this edition of the festival and how it is different from the earlier editions.
Excerpts of the interview follow:
IRAN DAILY: How many films are scheduled to take part in this edition of the festival?
BAHMAN ABDOLLAHI: It is expected that one film will be screened each day from February 1 in New Vision Section, one in Documentary Section, one in Art and Experience Section, and two in Sodaye Simorgh Section.
In total, 11 documentaries, 11 films in Art and Experience Section and 11 films in New Vision Section — which focuses on films made by the first-time directors and less mainstream productions — and 22 films in Sodaye Simorgh Section.
The films which are to take part in Art and Experience Section are non-commercial productions which are screened in particular cinemas during the year.
A number of directors also want their films to be screened in the current edition of the festival and thus will participate in non-competition section. 'Iran's Orphanage' by Abolqasem Talebi is just one of the few.
Each year, films in different genres are screened in the festival? The absence of which genres has been felt the most in the previous editions?
In fact, there are many international festivals themed on different subjects. In subject-centered festivals such as those dealing with war or mountain, only a limited number of films are able to take part.
Like Cannes Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, Fajr International Film Festival will host films on a number of subjects and themes.
Social issues were of great significance in the previous editions and the absence of films on crimes, accidents, sports, fear, children and teens were seriously felt in the previous editions.
Film productions on the Iraq-imposed War (1980-1988) are unique in Iran. Although the number of war-themed films produced in the world is very high, exploring the spiritual aspect of war is quite evident in films by Iranian directors about the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. Most of these films were warmly welcomed by the audience.
Although Fajr festival is an international event, its domestic and international sections are held separately at a three-month interval. Do you agree with the separation in domestic and international sections?
International section of the 33rd Fajr International Film Festival was held on May 2, 2015 and the same section of the 34th edition will be held on May 2016.
On one hand, the coincidence of the Berlin Film Festival and Fajr International Film Festival prevents the participation of foreign directors in both events, while on the other, the insufficient time for screening the large number of films in the domestic section on the other made us separate the two sections.
Fortunately, this gave us the opportunity to look more closely into the films in the international section.
How is the judging of the films in Fajr Festival different from other international events?
There are only nine international film festivals in the world which are among first-rate international film festivals. Fajr International Film Festival is among the second-rate festivals.
Although the quality and structure are important in judging the films in all international festivals, innovation in narration and creativity in films are what distinguishes Fajr festival from other international events.
Usually, a seven-member panel of jury judges the films in each edition of the Iranian festival. Believe it or not, their personal ideas influence their verdict. This is while in other international festivals, several members are responsible for judging the films leaving no room for personal instincts.
The discovery of creative and innovative directors from around the world is of high significance for prominent international festivals.
Events such as Cannes Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival had the honor to find and introduce gifted famous figures including Abbas Kiarostami and Asghar Farhadi to the world.
The films' critic and review sessions are to be held one day after the flick is screened. Do you agree with this change of plan?
Earlier, it was impossible for the press and critics to attend the films' critic and review sessions and its screening due to the short interval.
However, this year, the screening hours are between 2 p.m.-12 midnight while the critic and review sessions are held the next day.
The only flaw of this timing is that the review sessions of the flicks which are screened on the last day of the festival will most probably coincide with the closing ceremony of the festival and, thus, will have fewer attendees.
Nevertheless, those in charge of holding the festival will definitely do something about this.
Last year, a flick titled 'Crazy Rook' was selected as the fest's best feature film. What is your prediction about the winners of the upcoming edition of the event?
It is quite difficult to comment on films and judge them before they are screened. At times, a flick by a young and inexperienced director which has a number of novices in its cast has managed to win admiration and the approval of critics and judges and even be nominated for the first prize. I cannot give a precise answer to your question until all the films are screened.