Outlook: 29th Fajr International Film Festival (Feb. 5-15, 2011)
White Nights
by Shahin Shajari Kohan

  Fajr International Film Festival is the most important and the most prestigious film event in the Iranian cinema. Every cinema year ends in this festival and when the closing ceremony is over, the new cinema year practically begins. Despite all criticism to the way films are selected, the way that the festival is held and judgments, it still sways the highest influence on the Iranian cinema. The twenty-ninth edition of the festival follows a tense year for the Iranian cinema. This is the second edition under the new deputy minister of culture for cinema affairs. During last year, Iranian cinema officials tried to encourage famous filmmakers to produce films and take part in the festival. The previous edition was just an average event apart from a few good films and fewer surprising discoveries and absence of renowned filmmakers left its negative mark on it. Big names are heard this year as their films are going through final technical touches. The list of films and directors presages a promising festival with a lot of great films and great filmmakers.
  Massoud Kimiaei, the seasoned Iranian director whose recent films went on public screens without prior screening at Fajr Festival, is a newsmaker with The Crime. Asghar Farhadi, whose About Elli was received with great acclaim both in and out of the country, has made Nader’s Separation from Simin which has already aroused a lot of curiosity. Abdolreza Kahani has brought Horse Is a Noble Animal and his film has a firsthand claim to the best film award. A young director, Bahram Tavakkoli (Here without Me), as well as Saman Salour (Thirteen 59), Maziyar Miri (Sa’adatabad) and other directors will be there with their new works. Kiyanoush Ayyari, who belongs to the first generation of post-revolution filmmakers, has sent Paternal House to the competition section and winner of last year’s main prizes, Ebrahim Hatami-Kia, is testing his chance again with Report on A Celebration. Alireza Davoudnejad has made Salve which marks his return to independent filmmaking after unsuccessful experiences in commercial cinema. A Cube of Sugar (Reza Mirkarimi), Agha Yousef (Ali Rafiei), This Is Not My House (Behrouz Afkhami) and End of the 8th Street (Alireza Amini) are other prominent entries on this year’s schedule. Reza Mirkarimi has regularly won a prize when he took part in the festival and this will automatically make a potential winner out of A Cube of Sugar.
  This year’s list of films is not limited to the above entries and there are other renowned filmmakers from Dariush Mehrjui to Rasoul Sadr Ameli and Kamal Tabrizi. There are also young directors with this edition of the festival as their debut. Movie stars like Shahab Hosseini, Hamed Behdad, Taraneh Alidousti, and Saber Abar had a busy year. Every one of them has already a few Crystal Simorghs on their track record and are major claimants to this year’s best acting prize. Amir Saqafi is among young directors whose first feature, Death Is My Trade will be premiered in the festival.
  Like last year, this year’s festival will be held at Milad Tower which is now a symbol for Tehran and one of the tallest buildings in Asia. Common viewers will also watch movies in other theaters. Other cities than Tehran hosted the festival in previous years, but this year’s event will be concentrated in Tehran. The short and documentary film section has been crossed out because it was not a thriving section. We must wait and see whether unfinished projects and films which are being edited will make it to the festival, which opens on February 5, or there will be a few big names missing.

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