Iranian cinema celebrated in SA

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Following the success of acclaimed films from Iran such as Majid Majidi’s “Children of Heaven’ and “The Colour of Paradise’, Iranian cinema has become well-known for its very spiritual and touching explorations of human nature in all its various forms. To this end, Cinema Nouveau screened by Jameson and MTN present the Iranian Film Festival 2007, starting at Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria, South Africa on 9 February.

On 16 February the festival will proceed to Cinema Nouveau screened by Jameson at Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg and then onto the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town (23 February – 1 March). It will conclude at Gateway in Durban (2-8 March).

All the films are in Persian with English subtitles. Free tickets will be available at the box office on the day of the screening.

Following the Islamic Revolution, Iran has increased its production of indigenous films from 25 in 1979 to 125 features in 2006. Films from Iran are widely acclaimed worldwide for their very unique approach to culture and religion. The role of women is also very significant in Iranian cinema, with some of Iran’s most influential producers and directors being female.

This year’s selection includes the following eight films from contemporary Iran, exploring diverse and sometimes controversial subjects with a very spiritually-based perspective.

“The Fateful Day’ directed by Shahram Asadi tells of how Abdollah, a young man who has recently embraced Islam, repeatedly asks for the hand of Raheleh in marriage but is continually turned down by the girl’s father. Finally Raheleh’s father consents to the marriage. During the wedding ceremony, news of the martyrdom of Hossein bin Ali (the Third Imam) reaches them. While the relatives of the bride and groom are discussing the marriage terms, Abdollah receives a divine call. After a moment of hesitation, Abdollah rises and sets out for the place to which he has been summoned.

“Hemlock’ (“Shokaran’) directed by Behruz Afkhami. Mahmoud Bassirat, who is a high level manager in a factory, is informed by the general manager that unknown characters have offered him bribes in order for him to help them buy the factory. The general manager is hospitalised after a mysterious accident and Mahmoud temporarily replaces him. During his visits to the general manager in the hospital, Mahmoud becomes involved in an emotional affair.

“Lost Time’ directed by Puran Derakhshandeh. Ten years after getting married, Dr Shakibeh Moayad, an experienced and skilled obstetrician, and her husband, a textile designer, are still childless. As a last resort to save their marriage Dr Moayad adopts an orphan girl, but her husband finds it impossible to accept the girl as a member of his family. The girl is sent back to the orphanage and is subsequently adopted by a well-to-do lady, while Dr Moayad’s marriage is on the verge of disruption.

“Come, Sun is setting’ directed by Ensieh Shah Hosseini. This is the story of the riparian people who do not easily give up struggling with the difficulties of daily life. These people are a shining example of friendship and devotion. In this film, the audience witnesses how a man’s love eventually leads to his self-sacrifice.

“A candle in the wind’ directed by Pouran Derakhshandeh. The film is based on the life of a young translator. It deals with the youth’s inclination towards narcotic drugs, as well as the Aids pandemic. Against this perspective, the film examines the situation of three persons from different social backgrounds.

“Tears of Cold’ directed by Azizollah Hamid Nejad. A soldier is expedited to a border village in Kurdistan, commissioned to clear a region mined by the enemy. As he gains success in his mission, the enemy commissions a rural girl, named Ronak, to assassinate him. However, it so happens that a sudden blizzard prompts the soldier to save the life of the girl, who has lost her way in the blizzard. They seek shelter in a cave in order to save themselves from the cold weather and snowstorm.

“Pendar’ directed by Leila Mirhadi. Pendar, a hard-working teacher is engaged in the campaign against illiteracy in a poor Kurdish village. She establishes such an affectionate relationship with her pupils that all of them wish they could one day become a teacher. After being informed that Pendar has retired, the pupils are unwilling to accept this reality.

“Mother’ directed by Leila Mirhadi. Simin, a pregnant woman, faces the dilemma of either having a miscarriage or delivering her baby at the cost of her eyes. By choosing to give birth to her child she loses her eyesight and Amin, her son, faces numerous problems in school and society.

Entry to the Iranian Film Festival is free, and tickets are available at Cinema Nouveau screened by Jameson box offices an hour before each show. For details of screening times visit www.sterkinekor.com

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