Festival to highlight both classic art-house Iranian cinema and cutting-edge films by young Iranian filmmakers
New Yorkers and cinephiles are in for a treat this coming January! The 1st annual Iranian Film Festival New York (IrFFNY) is set to launch at one of NYC’s top art-houses, the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave at West 3rd Street) from Jan 10th–15th 2019.
IrFFNY will present an annual selection of acclaimed and award-winning films from one of the world’s most vital and distinguished national cinemas to New York audiences. The festival aims to unite two strands of Iranian moviemaking – the classic art-house Iranian cinema that is known to cinephiles around the world, and new cutting-edge works that show the adventurousness and daring nature of younger Iranian directors. The classic strand features celebrated names such as Bahman Farmanara, Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi.
The festival’s Opening Night selection will be the NY premiere of Bahman Farmanara’s TALE OF THE SEA (Hekayat-e Darya, 97 min) on Thursday, Jan 10th at 7pm. Following the screening, there will be a Q&A with the film’s writer / producer / director & star Farmanara. The veteran producer & director has been active in Iranian cinema since the 1970s, and the festival is proud to have him as its Guest of Honor.
Dedicated to the late great Abbas Kiarostami, TALE OF THE SEA is the story of an ailing and reclusive writer (played by Farmanara) who after witnessing a violent murder, breaks down and spends three years in a mental institution. Upon release, he returns with his wife to his home by the sea, a place where past and present blur in delicate and deeply moving ways. The film also stars Fatemeh Motamed-Arya (Gilaneh, Men at Work) who is considered one of the most significant actresses of post-revolutionary Iranian cinema, and award-winning actress Leila Hatami (Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar winning film A Separation). The Hollywood Reporter calls Tale Of The Sea “Farmanara’s resonant elegy to the conclusion of an artistic era and his salute to a generation of Iranian writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers who are leaving the scene”.
The festival will also present the NY premiere of Farmanara’s controversial comedy-drama I WANT TO DANCE (Delam Mikhad, 95 min), which was just released from a four-year ban in Iran. The film follows Bahram Farzaneh (played by Reza Kianian), a lonely writer with severe writer’s block who begins to hear rhythmic Persian dance music in his head after an accident, which leads him to be consumed by the irrepressible desire to dance. People think he has gone crazy and this bizarre new behavior creates many problems for him – both with the authorities and his family. The film will screen on Saturday, Jan 12th at 6:30pm. A Q&A will follow with Farmanara after the screening.
In addition, Farmanara’s striking political allegory TALL SHADOWS OF THE WIND (1978) – one of the most acclaimed films of the Iranian New Wave – will be shown on Monday, Jan 14th at 7pm, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.
On Friday, Jan 11th at 7pm, the festival will screen Mani Haghighi’s twisted dark comedy PIG (Khook, 108 min). Making its premiere in competition at this year’s Berlinale, this social satire stars Hasan Majuni as Hassan, a blacklisted director who hasn’t been able to make a film in years, forcing him into directing commercials. Hassan is doubly frustrated that his muse, the actress Shiva (played by Leila Hatami) has started to work with other directors. But most galling of all, a serial killer is going about beheading Iran’s finest filmmakers, and their severed heads are being discovered with the word “pig” imprinted on their foreheads… yet Hassan remains unscathed. Feeling like he’s being ignored, Hassan’s bad luck turns to worse when he becomes the prime suspect in this murder case.The hilarity and hijinks that follow are quite unlike anything else in Iranian cinema.
The festival’s Closing Night selection will be the North American premiere of Houman Seyedi’s SHEEPLE (102 min) on Tuesday, Jan 15th at 7pm. A violent action film about criminal gangs that has been compared to Brazil's CITY OF GOD as well as the films of Tarantino, SHEEPLE won the Audience Award this year at Iran's Fajr Film Festival where it was called “the most exciting genre film” by The Hollywood Reporter. The film stars Navid Mohammadzadeh (Best Actor winner, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival) who is considered one the best new actors of Iranian Cinema.
Some other highlights from the festival program include the New York premieres of:
Abbas Amini’s HENDI & HORMOZ (88 min), a tale of imperiled young love in coastal Iran that premiered at this year’s Berlinale and recently won Best Film & Best Director prizes at Toronto’s CineIran Film Festival. The film will screen on Friday, Jan 11th at 9:30pm.
SLY (Märmouz, 90 min), which recently premiered at the Busan Film Festival, is a daring satire of the Iranian political system by director Kamal Tabrizi (“The Lizard”). The film stars Hamid Behdad (Best Actor, CineIran Film Festival), one of Iran's most acclaimed young actors. SLY will screen on Saturday, Jan 12th at 9pm.
First-time director Asghar Yousefinejad’s THE HOME, a Best Picture prize-winner in Iran that examines the tensions and deceptions in a family as they prepare to bury their just-deceased patriarch. The film will screen Saturday, Jan 12th at 4:45pm.
On Sunday, Jan 13th at 7:15pm, the festival is honored to present 3 FACES (Se Rokh, 100 min), the latest from Iranian master Jafar Panahi, who has continued to work despite being under an official ban from filmmaking for the last seven years. The film, which is his fourth feature he’s made since the ban was handed down, won the Best Screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and will be released by Kino Lorber next spring in the United States.
IrFFNY is co-founded and co-programmed by film critic Godfrey Cheshire, who has written extensively about Iranian cinema, and Festival Director and film distributor Armin Miladi who distributes Iranian films and runs the annual Iranian Film Festival of Australia, now in its 8th year. The festival is presented under the banner of Miladi’s company Daricheh Cinema.
Festival director / Co-founder / Co-programmer Armin Miladi said:
“Despite political and economic challenges, 2018 has been a great year for Iranian Cinema on the international stage. I’m excited that after years of planning & preparation, and by presenting a mix of world-renowned Iranian auteurs alongside thrilling new talents, we are finally able to bring one of the best selections ever of contemporary Iranian Cinema to a wide audience in New York. I also deeply believe that through cinema and film festivals like IrFFNY, we can help build a meaningful worldwide platform for better positive cultural understanding between people & nations rather than the daily negative images & stories that the mainstream media often portray about countries like Iran.”
Co-founder / Co-programmer Godfrey Cheshire said:
“Iranian filmmakers have always worked under very challenging conditions. Both before and after the country’s 1979 Revolution, film artists faced the paradoxical situation that the government both supported and censored cinema, enforcing an ever-changing raft of content restrictions. Of the three most prominent directors represented in the first IrFFNY, Farmanara and Kiarostami have had films banned in Iran, while Panahi was banned from making films for 20 years, an order he has defied by continuing to make them. Filmmakers have fought against the limits placed on them with their creativity. I believe New York audiences attending IrFFNY will be fascinated to see the various strategies that writers and directors have devised to push the envelope on subjects including politics (“Sly”), religion (“The Home”), intimacy (“Hendi and Hormoz”), gang violence (“Sheeple”) and even dancing (“Pig” & I Want To Dance”). The films in this year’s festival illustrate both the passion and the ingenuity that continue to distinguish Iranian cinema.”
The festival will also honor Abbas Kiarostami with a special presentation of two documentaries offering portraits of the late filmmaker. On Sunday, Jan 13th at 9:30pm, the feature-length film “76 MINUTES AND 15 SECONDS WITH ABBAS KIAROSTAMI,” by renowned cinematographer and Kiarostami collaborator Seifollah Samadian, will be accompanied by the New York premiere of TAKE ME HOME, Kiarostami’s final short film.
The 30-minute film A WALK WITH KIAROSTAMI by Jamsheed Akrami (a scholar of Iranian cinema, film professor and critic) who was a longtime friend of Kiarostami’s, will be featured in the program IRANIAN CINEMA THROUGH THE LENS OF JAMSHEED AKRAMI on Sunday, Jan 13th at 5pm. This will also include clips from three feature-length documentaries by Akrami about Iranian cinema (Friendly Persuasion, The Lost Cinema, Cinema of Discontent), followed by a discussion between Akrami and critic Godfrey Cheshire.
Additional films & events for the festival will be announced in the coming days.
Tickets for the festival are available at the IFC Center box office (323 Sixth Avenue) or online at ifccenter.com.
Tickets for the Opening Night screening of TALE OF THE SEA are $20/$15 IFC Center members. Tickets for other festival screenings are $17 adults/$13 seniors/$12 IFC Center members.
A festival pass, good for admission to 10 festival screenings, is available for $125/$100 IFC Center members.
IrFFNY is an independently organized and nonpolitical event
presented under the banner of Daricheh Cinema
and has no financial ties to any government organization inside or outside Iran.
For the complete IrFFNY festival schedule, see below.
For film descriptions and further information, go to:
Twitter & Instagram: @irffny
IrFFNY TRAILER: https://youtu.be/
Iranian Film Festival New York SCHEDULE:
January 10th -15th at IFC Center
Thursday, January 10th
Opening Night: TALE OF THE SEA (dir. Bahman Farmanara)
Friday, January 11th
PIG (dir. Mani Haghighi),
screening with short Animal (dir. Bahman Ark)
HENDI & HORMOZ (dir. Abbas Amini),
screening with short Lunch Time (dir. Alireza Ghasemi)
Saturday, January 12th
THE HOME (dir. Asghar Yousefinejad)
I WANT TO DANCE (dir. Bahman Farmanara)
SLY (dir. Kamal Tabrizi)
Sunday, January 13th
IRANIAN CINEMA THROUGH THE LENS OF JAMSHEED AKRAMI
3 FACES (dir. Jafar Panahi)
76 MINUTES AND 15 SECONDS WITH ABBAS KIAROSTAMI
(dir. Seifollah Samadian),
screening with short Take Me Home (2016, dir. Abbas Kiarostami)
Monday, January 14th
TALL SHADOWS OF THE WIND (1979, dir. Bahman Farmanara)
Tuesday, January 15th
Closing Night: SHEEPLE (dir. Houman Seyyedi)