Over the past few decades, Iran’s cinema has made significant progress and achieved a high international status.
This was what unanimously acknowledged by a number of foreign guests who had attended the 37th Fajr International Film Festival (FIff), which came to a close on Thursday.
Speaking to Iran Daily in separate interviews, they also said Iran’s film industry is still continuing its fast-forward progress.
The festival opened in the Iranian capital of Tehran on April 18.
“Basically, I acquired familiarity with the Iranian cinema by watching works produced in the 1990s, particularly those by late prominent director, Abbas Kiarostami,” said Monika Mikusová, the program editor and buyer at the Acquisitions Department of the Slovak Radio and Television and simultaneously a lecturer at the Department of Audio-Visual Studies of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU).
She added, “However later, I realized that Iran’s cinema is very rich and its works have a far greater diversity than what I initially thought.”
Mikusová noted that every year she watches very attractive films by Iranian directors who are under 40.
Commenting on her reason for attending the 37th FIff, she said she had come to purchase a number of Iranian works and prepare the ground for the Slovak Television broadcast.
“In addition by attending such events, I seek to gain familiarity with new cinematic trends as a university lecturer.”
She said she buys up to five Iranian films for the Slovak Radio and Television each year, adding the most recent ones were ‘No Date, No Signature’ directed by Vahid Jalilvand and a documentary titled ‘Zemnako’ directed by Mehdi Qorbanpour, which is about a chemical attack by the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, on the town of Halabja during the Iraqi-imposed war (1980-88) against Iran.
Mikusová said respecting humanitarian values are a prominent feature of Iranian films and what has got her interested in the country’s cinema.
Commenting on the FIff in a separate interview, Sa’ad A. al-Sa’ad, an Iraqi Culture Ministry official and the head of the Cinema Department of Iraqi Artists Syndicate, said, “We do our best to participate in this festival every year. This year, we had a pavilion in the fest’s Iranian Film Market (IFM) section.
He noted that during his stay in Iran, he had held meetings with Reza Mirkarimi, the FIff secretary, and Alireza Tabesh, the managing director of Farabi Cinema Foundation, adding the talks revolved around cooperation between Iran and Iraq in different fields pertaining to cinema and led to a number of decisions about holding film weeks in both countries and training courses for Iraqi cineastes as well as production of joint movies.
Praising the Iranian cinema’s high regional and international status, Sa’ad said the country’s films have achieved a good position in world cinema and always come under the spotlight in international fests.
“Iraq’s cinema will definitely achieve a better international position in terms of film production through cooperation with Iran.”
He noted the FIff is a successful and high-class fest, saying he had recently attended Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia, which is considered to be the Arab world’s biggest and most high-quality film festival, but maintains that the FIff was much better than the Tunisian one in terms of coordination and planning.
Also commending the Iranian cinema, Athra Yaseen, a young Iraqi director, whose short film was pitted against other foreign short flicks in the FIff, said Iran’s cinema is well-known internationally.
Yaseen revealed that Iraqi cineastes wish to cooperate with their Iranian counterparts.