Iranian film festival starting

The festival will bring some recent award-winning features and shorts

The seventh edition of Írán:Ci, the Festival of Iranian Films, opens at Lucerna on Jan. 9 and continues at Světozor, Lucerna, Bio Oko, Kino Pilotů as well as at other venues in Prague until Jan. 14. The festival will then move to Brno and Bratislava.

The films will have English and Czech subtitles.

The festival will have a feature film competition, documentaries, and special screenings. There will be a short film competition for the first time. Several directors will come to Prague to attend the screenings.

Last year, films included The Salesman, which shortly afterward won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film.

“During the course of the seven years since the first edition, art lovers have had the opportunity to see more than 150 films by Iranian artists. The festival has welcomed 22,000 visitors and Iranian film is no longer a big unknown here. … Írán:Ci is a truly unique event that brings together two seemingly different cultures and finds common topics between them,” festival artistic director Kaveh Daneshmand said in a press release.

The theme “Don’t be scared!” refers to the nature of Iranian cinema. Independent Iranian filmmakers face restrictions and a total lack of support. Despite the obstacles, films by Iranian directors regularly win prizes at festivals such as Cannes, Venice, and Berlinale.

Along with films produced in Iran, the festival will have titles by Iranian filmmakers based abroad.

The side program includes the Night of Afghan Films, a concert and film workshops.

Films will include A Man of Integrity by Mohammad Rasoulof, who is regarded as one of the strongest voices of Iranian cinema. It won the Best Film Award in Un Certain Regard at Cannes. Two Prague studios, Media Nest and Magic Lab, were involved in the film’s post-production.

The guest list includes writer Razieh Ansari, who currently lives in Prague and will sit on the festival’s Feature Film Jury. Her first novel, Like A Scent in the Breeze, won the Iranian Literary Prize in 2012. Her subsequent novels, Tehran Trio and A Woman with a Pearl Brooch, were both received with critical acclaim.

Two directors, Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moghadam, will be in Prague to introduce their film, The Invincible Diplomacy of Mr. Naderi. Maryam Moghadam is also a well-known actress and screenwriter.

Kaveh Mazaheri will present Retouch, a successful Iranian short film. It tells the story of a woman who has to make a decision about her future, her husband, and her own life.

Navid Mahmoudi will bring his second feature, Parting. It shows a young Afghan couple on a perilous trail toward Europe in search of a better life.

Members of the young generation of Iranian filmmakers are also coming. Abed Abest and Navid Danesh have screened their works at Berlinale, Toronto, and other festivals. Abed Abest, so far known mainly as a theater and cinema actor, will present his directing feature debut, Simulation, about the perception of truth. Navid Danesh, another first-time director, will screen Duet in the main competition.

Non-film events include a santur and oud concert and a theater performance at Royal on Jan. 11.

Persian cuisine will be available at Světozor from Jan. 10 to 14.

The Festival of Iranian Films was established in Prague in 2011 to present the Czech audience with an annual selection of the best of Iranian cinema. The project has grown into a platform for other forms of Iranian art, including music, theater, visual arts and graphic design.

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