FIPRESCI Critsics' Perspective on Iranian Independent Cinema (Part- Eight)

Pelagie Ngonana
Journalist and Film Critic/Cameroon

How much do you know about Iranian culture? Do you know any Iranian artists out of the field of cinema?
- I’m always amazed by Iran, but unfortunately, I know so little about its culture and art because I haven’t had a chance to meet Iranian artists of different fields. I know a few filmmakers though.

How did you become acquainted with Iranian Cinema? And when was the first time you watched an Iranian film?
- Since I couldn’t yet attend the festivals, I watched a few Iranian films on Television when I was young. But I can’t remember their names. But my first serious encounter with Iranian cinema was when one of my Tunisian friends, who happened to be a film critic too, gave me Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation to watch at home. I was literally mesmerized by the story, mise en scène and performances. This is the film I will never forget. Later I learned more about this film and its success internationally, and then I said to myself: Yes, Iranian cinema is awesome!

What do you think are the most important matters that Iranian independent filmmakers should work on?
- Iranian filmmakers tend to focus on religion, the role of the family in society, and revolutionary themes. It is clear that Iranian cinema follows its own ideology. Of course, it is true that Iranian films have become increasingly diverse and universal over the last few years.

What are the main factors for the success of Iranian cinema at a variety of film festivals in the world?
- In my opinion, Iranian cinema has an amazing artistic and technical quality. It’s concerned with the details. In addition, it goes beyond the author's cinema and the genre rules of cinema, which is why it has attracted the attention of international festivals. Despite censorship and some restrictions, Iranian filmmakers have successfully and bravely won great titles.

Which cinematic movements in the world, whether before or after the Islamic Revolution, have influenced Iranian cinema?
- Because of the censorship in Iran, Mostly Russian and Indian movies have been broadcast on television. Then, after the Revolution, a number of directors left the country because they couldn’t make the films they wanted, and in my opinion, this has had a significant impact on the content and type of Iranian films.

What is your opinion regarding the status of women in Iranian cinema?
- While I am aware of the fights and debates about the stereotypes of Iranian women in some films, I believe that Iranian cinema is committed to giving women a more significant place in its evolution. More and more women characters with strong personalities and independence are portrayed in the films, women with significant and important roles in the family and even society. I believe we are on the verge of presenting an image of the modern Iranian woman in cinema, It is important, however, to mention that these stereotypes about Iranian women are also found in non-Iranian films. In any case, I am so glad to see that Iranian actresses are receiving awards at many of the top film festivals around the world.

What do you think is the future for independent filmmakers in Iran?
- I believe Iranian cinema has high potential. A revolutionary cinema both in the matter of technicality and aesthetics and even ideology. It is my belief that Iranian cinema will be discussed more extensively and at a higher level in the future.

[FIlm Magazine NO. 605]

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