The 2nd Cinema Verite, Iran International Documentary Film Festival (Tehran, Oct. 15-19, 2008)
Essential Q&A on a Significant Film Festival
by Massoud Bakhshi
The 2nd Iran International Documentary Film Festival and Doc Market; Cinema Verite, was held from October 15 to 19, 2008, by the Documentary & Experimental Film Center (DEFC) in different venues in Tehran: three theaters at Palestine Cinema, one theater at Ghiyam Cinema, and three more theaters at Farabi Hall of University of Arts, Saba Center for Arts & Culture, and the Carpet Museum. Some 279 films from 85 countries were shown in 19 competitive and non-competitive sections and 92 foreign guests were invited including some of the most important figures of documentary cinema of the world like Richard Leacock (England), Jorgen Leth (Denmark), Peter Wintonick (Canada), Maciej Drygas and Marcel Lozinski (Poland), along with managers of some of the most prestigious documentary film festivals of the World: Amsterdam’s IDFA (the Netherlands), Dot Docs (Canada), the Marseille (France), Morelia (Mexico), Planet Doc Review (Poland), Doc Point (Finland), and Sundance Film Festival (USA). Representatives of the following TV Networks also made their presence felt in the festival and the film market as well: YLE (Finland), BBC and Lion TV and TVF (England), ARTE (France), ZDF (Germany), TVP Poznan and Cultura (Poland), Link TV, National Geographic and Sundance Channel (USA). Four specialized workshops and 5 specialized seminars were held during the festival. The Best Documentary Project prize and Iran Documentary Fund were other programs of this compact and prolific festival.
Why another film festival?
A Google search of “film festival” will reveal 41 million sites! Iran alone has dozens of film festivals, big and small, in Tehran and provinces. Why do we need another one? How does a film festival make its presence felt on national, regional or international levels? How a film festival can train audience, filmmakers, or critics? Any responsible person who runs or programs a film festival should address these fundamental questions. If an answer – and a necessity – is found, then the festival in question has found its raison d’être and the right motive to be held and to continue on.
Why cinema verite?
“Cinema Verite” was the name of a film magazine published for a short period many years ago by the Documentary and Experimental Film Center [in Iran]. Cinema Verite was also the name given to film movements instigated by Vertov in Russia, Rouch in France, and Leacock in the United States. Cinema Verite, or Direct Cinema, can be described as the informal and unceremonious recording of reality, therefore, using the term as the title of the first and only international specialized film festival in the documentary field in Iran, where documentary cinema is alive and deeply rooted and where documentary filmmakers constantly search for reality in an informal manner, makes sense. Iranian documentary cinema and documentarians themselves had felt the need for an international documentary film festival for many years and had proposed and discussed it many times before. Many other ill-fated documentary festivals, and even an important one such as the Kish Documentary Film Festival, could not function at broad regional and/or international level. Thus “Cinema Verite: Iran International Documentary Film Festival” has been born to respond to that specific need.
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