The Persian International Film Festival (PFF) has unveiled the full program for its 2nd annual event, set to run on 22 August until 1 September 2013. With films from Iran, Afghanistan and their diasporic communities around the world, the Festival is a celebration of today’s cinema and the stories of Persian filmmakers.
The program offers a diverse mix of films from well-known and emerging filmmakers. With seven recent features, ten shorts, a full retrospective program, a football themed session and much more, there is something for everyone at PFF.
The official opening night on 22 August will present a screening of A Respectable Family, an Iranian film noir by Massoud Bakhshi. The film, about an academic who returns home after two decades in the West to a family and country he no longer recognises, made a splash in Cannes in 2012 as it reflected the lives of a generation of Iranians.
The drama is a stark contrast to the closing night film, the whimsical Chicken With Plums, a charming French-language tale by Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi and French director Vincent Paronnaud.
The Festival’s opening and closing nights are a tribute to Persian culture with pre and post film celebrations involving Persian Tea, dancers and the ever popular Persian sweets.
Festival Co-Director, Sanaz Fotouhi says, “We are very excited to present this year’s program which showcases plenty of great talent from a cross-section of Persian communities both in their home countries and around the world.”
“We set out to bring together stories that share that human essence and we hope to break stereotypes and forge new connections through film,” says Fotouhi.
Highly anticipated feature films in this year’s PFF line-up present a range of current social and political issues facing the Persian people around the world today. It’s A Dream, a debut film by Mahmood Ghaffari explores the story of a young Iranian woman struggling to overcome social and sexual inequalities as she tries to pay off a debt; while My Sweet Pepper Land, a film that has come fresh out of Cannes, follows a Kurdish woman who works at a newly opened school despite her brothers’ hostility to the idea.
While all films have ties to Persian people and countries, the stories they tell take us from Kurdistan all the way to Japan. Like Someone In Love by Abbas Kiraostami unexpectedly takes viewers to Japan, where an old man and young woman meet in Tokyo and create and unlikely bond that bears no relation to the circumstances of their encounter.
Festival goers will be taken on a journey throughout the festival. The intriguing documentary Kahrizak, Four Views takes viewers back to Iran as it presents an intimate look into the Kahrizak Charity Centre through four unique episodes directed by four respected Iranian directors of different ages and levels of experience.
Amin Palangi, the Festival’s artistic director, says he has seen Persian films take off in the international cinema. “While the Persian cinema has been under the spot light for the past few decades, in the past few years with Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation and The Past, it has been taken in a whole new level in the international scene.” he says.
“We want to bring together films created by both established and emerging directors and present them to the Australian community,” says Palangi.
Watch the history of Persian cinema unfold before your eyes in the Special Retrospective Program, featuring the best of Iranian Cinema. The program will present a retrospective on the last 40 years of Iranian cinema, showcasing great works that has made it onto international screens despite the obstacles the filmmakers often had to go through.
Among the series of short films to be shown as part of the main program are films that utilises a combination of landscape and narrative to create dramatic, stunningly shot works. Buzkashi Boys showcases the stark sights of Kabul, Afghanistan in an artfully-shot tale of a boy dreaming to be a buzkashi player – a grueling game of horse polo played with a dead goat. Meanwhile, More Than Two Hours presents a suspenseful story of a boy and a girl wandering in the city to find a hospital, although it is much harder than they thought. And Needle by Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, winner of Cinefondation at Cannes Film Festival 2013, about a young girl living through both the piercing of her ears and her parents’ divorce.
It wouldn’t be a true Persian event without football (of the soccer variety). Football is Iran’s number one national sport with unprecedented interest that brings together people of different social, political, and economical backgrounds. Given both Iran and Australia’s success in football recently the festival will dedicate a session to football themed films. This includes the screening of Jafar Panahi’s Offside and a short documentary made by Seifollah Samadian on Iran and Australia’s historical match against each other in 1997.
PFF wants audiences to get involved even after the credits have rolled. For budding filmmakers, PFF will be running a number of digital story telling workshops for newly arrived Afghan and Iranian youth. The result of the workshops will be a series of short clips/films which will be showcased in Parramatta’s Information and Cultural Exchange Inc.
Recent films shown in the festival will be eligible to win the Audience Choice Awards. Audiences are invited to vote for the ‘Best Feature’ and ‘Best Short Film’ and voters will go into a draw to win one of the DVD sets by Iranian master filmmakers thanks to Madman.
Managed by Palangi Productions, the Festival debuted last year and will screen films at Dendy Cinemas Sydney.
To see more of the Persian International Film Festival program, for information on other events and to buy tickets (on sale August 1) go to: http://www.persianfilmfestival.com