PIC to present “Iranian Independents: A Festival of Films”

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An exceptional clutch of Iranian films will be shown by the Pune International Centre from 1 to 4 July at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI). A festival of independent Iranian cinema – the eighth such film festival organised by PIC – will be held in collaboration with NFAI, Iranian Independents and the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC). The festival will be inaugurated by Mr Rashid Irani, film scholar and critic.

This is a unique occasion for Pune’s film lovers to watch Iranian films which have been appreciated and awarded in many parts of the world.

Films from Iran films have, for long, been the toast of cinema-appreciating audiences the world over. They have been honoured repeatedly at the most prestigious international film festivals. Today, the country’s independent cinema sector which is thriving despite tough regulations, is getting a lot of attention. Some critics now rank Iran as the world’s most important national cinema, artistically. Along with China, Iran has been lauded as one of the best exporters of cinema from the 1990s.

It is widely held that the success of recent cinema in Iran comes from this wave of independent filmmakers who belong to far-flung provinces of the country. “Iranian Independents” was founded in 1997 by Mohammad Atebbai, who has been involved in the production, promotion and marketing of over 200 significant Iranian independent feature and documentary films over the past 20 years and is a NETPAC representative in Iran. This is the first movement in the Iranian film industry for international promotion of films in the private sector. Several Iranian directors such as Manijeh Hekmat, Mani Haghighi, Reza Dormishian (who was at the Pune International Film Festival in Pune earlier this year), Shahram Mokri and others have achieved international recognition through Iranian Independents.

“There is a new generation of filmmakers in Iran that I classify as the 6th generation, and I am working with them,” says Atebbai, who has made the films available to PIC.  “Their cinema is different from the former generations, especially in form and structure. These young film directors are experimenting and (using)… new language and subjects in their movies and above all they are completely independent.”

While the films to be shown at the festival are varied in terms of cinematic technique, style and approach to their subject, some general trends can be discerned: for instance, some films deal with intense interpersonal relationships, either between couples (I’m Not Angry!) or among family members (Death of the Fish, The Paternal House). Some also tackle loneliness (Risk of Acid Rain, There are Things that You Don’t Know) and inner tensions (Avalanche, The Last Step); some are truly avant-garde in both conception and execution, drifting or shifting perplexingly through time and space (The Last Step, Fish and Cat), others tackle socio-familial conflict (I’m Not Angry!), one is woven like a thriller (The Bright Day) and at least one is, quite exceptionally, a romantic comedy (No Entry for Men).

The four-day festival will showcase 13 multiple award-winning films made over the past five years.