UCLA Film and Television Archive & The Bijan Amin and Soraya Amin Foundation present
14th ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF IRANIAN CINEMA
Friday, January 16 – Sunday, February 8
Like the nation it reflects so vividly and thoughtfully, Iranian cinema is at a crossroads. Iran has an overwhelmingly young population, and almost all of the selections in this overview of recent Iranian filmmaking concern a generation of young people dissatisfied with their present situation and uncertain about the future. In very different ways, LETTERS IN THE WIND and DEEP BREATH movingly and excitingly depict protagonists caught between adolescent rebellion and the search for a place in society. Similarly, a new generation of filmmakers is emerging as the trickle of titles distributed independently grows to a flood. Like LETTERS IN THE WIND, TEHRAN, 7:00 A.M. is a first film from this independent movement, and like DEEP BREATH, it represents a break with the kind of filmmaking that foreign viewers typically associate with Iranian cinema. Instead of pastoral lyricism or poetic neorealism, these films focus on the pleasures and displeasures of everyday urban life.
The tradition in Iranian cinema of combining keenly observed realism and symbolic allegory continues with another first film, DANCING IN THE DUST. Yet another first feature, BLACK TAPE, combines two concerns of recent Iranian cinema—the place of women and the place of the dispossessed Kurds—but with a harsh contemporary edge unusual in the films from the 1990s that put Iranian cinema on the map. Our opening night film, CRIMSON GOLD, is a collaboration between two acknowledged masters, Abbas Kiarostami (TEN) and Jafar Panahi (THE CIRCLE). This film too is concerned about dehumanizing forces in Iranian society. It is a concern with global resonance.
*All films in Farsi with English subtitles.
Friday January 16 2004, 7:30PM
(2003) Directed by Jafar Panahi
A dark drama based on a real-life incident, CRIMSON GOLD is director Jafar Panahi’s superb follow-up to THE CIRCLE (2000). The film begins with a robbery gone terribly wrong, and then backs up to patiently outline the steps leading to it. Working from a script by his mentor Abbas Kiarostami, Panahi employs a dramatic visual style that is both dazzling and hard-edged. Together, the two filmmakers have fashioned a subtle yet devastating portrait of social inequality and urban alienation in contemporary Tehran. They are aided in their task by Hussein Emadeddin, an affectingly natural nonprofessional actor, who plays the exasperated pizza deliverer driven to violence by hard times and despair.
Producer/Editor: J. Panahi. Screenwriter: Abbas Kiarostami. Cinematographer: Hossain Jafarian. With: Hussein Emadeddin, Kamyar Sheisi, Azita Rayeji, Shahram Vaziri, Ehsan Amani. 35mm, 97 min.
Saturday January 17 2004, 7:30PM
LETTERS IN THE WIND
(2001) Directed by Ali Reza Amini
In the great Iranian neorealist manner, Ali Reza Amini’s lyrical debut feature focuses on a group of young men at a military training camp in the mountains. Drawn mainly from the country’s most remote provinces, the conscripts must cope with the punishing routine and harsh discipline designed to transform them from callow youths into soldiers. Two of the young men become friends by sharing the tape recorder one of them has smuggled into boot camp, listening to recorded female voices from the world outside. Soon the tape recorder becomes the focal point for the entire barracks, allowing the recruits an outlet for their homesickness, loneliness and desire. Amini combines sly humor and near-documentary dispassion to transform this simple story into moving poetry.
Producer/Cinematographer: A.R. Amini. Screenwriter: Bayram Fazli. Editor: Behroz Kahali. With: Mohammad Taghi Hashemi, Faramarz Hashemzadeh. 35mm, 76 min.
Sunday, January 18 2004, 2:00 p.m.
Animation from Iran
In conjunction with this year’s Iranian film series, we are pleased to include a family program of animated shorts produced by Iran’s Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. Using techniques ranging from cel drawings to paper cut-outs and reflecting influences from Disney to classical Persian art, these shorts will please any animation fan, young or old. Humorous, graceful, thoughtful, sometimes silly, the films tell their stories visually, without dialogue, making this a program for all ages.
(1995) Directed by Mohammed Reza Abedi
35mm, 14 min.
(1996) Directed by Farkhondeh Torabi
35mm, 12 min.
LILI, LILI, LITTLE POOL
(1992) Directed by Vajiullah Fardmoghadam
35mm, 16 min.
(1994) Directed by Ali Asgharzadeh
35mm, 16 min.
35mm, 18 min.
*Total running time: 76 min.
Friday January 23 2004, 7:30PM
(2003) Directed by Parviz Shahbazi
This wry, whimsical character study from Parvis Shahbazi may be the first cinematic account of the urban slacker phenomenon in Iran. Mansour Shahbazi and Saeed Amini play a couple of listless twentysomethings, each from opposite ends of the social spectrum but both equally bored with their constricted lives, which seem to consist mainly of aimless driving, melancholy reflection and the occasional bout of petty crime. When the boys pick up a vivacious young hitchhiker (Maryam Palyzban), her dynamic presence begins to rouse them from their terminal ennui. Punctuated with beautiful imagery and comic moments to leaven its examination of a generation adrift, DEEP BREATH is a sympathetic yet unsparing picture of disaffected Iranian youth.
Producer: Amir Samavati. Screenwriter/Editor: P. Shahbazi. Cinematographer: Ali Loghmani. With: Mansour Shahbazi, Maryam Palizban, Saeed Amini. 35mm, 82 min.
Sunday January 25 2004, 7:00PM
TEHRAN, 7:00 A.M.
(Tehran Sa’at-e Haft Sobh)
(2003) Directed by Amir Shahab Razavian
TEHRAN 7 A.M. traces the fleeting connections among disparate characters who briefly meet, tell stories, philosophize or confess love, before moving on to the next encounter. At 7 a.m, a traffic cop extends the red light to keep his favorite actress from crossing the street. The driver of a moped taxi listens to the life stories of passengers he never sees as they sit behind him. Of course, the real star of the film is Tehran in all its
chaotic glory: traffic and pedestrian bridges crisscross the frame as the hulking girders of new construction beckon the city’s loners to secret encounters by firelight.
Screenwriters: Majid Eslami, Farzad Pourkhoshbakht. Cinematographer: Morteza Poursamadi. Editor: Parviz Shahbazi. With: Behnaz Jafari, Hasan Moazeni, Reza Khamseh, Parviz Larijani. 35mm, 85 min.
Saturday January 31 2004, 7:30PM
BLACK TAPE—A TEHRAN DIARY
(2002) Directed by Fariborz Kamkari
A young Kurdish woman in Tehran receives a video camera for her birthday and proceeds to record, often surreptitiously, the heavily circumscribed—and increasingly disturbing—domestic life she leads with her older, controlling husband. The film gradually reveals their marriage to be a chilling allegory for the utter powerlessness of the dispossessed Kurdish population. First-time filmmaker Fariborz Kamkari borrows the conceit of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT—we see only what the video camera records—to create a harrowing account of psychic and physical confinement, complete with hints of sexual sadism and a touch of Gothic horror. Not for the fainthearted, BLACK TAPE is a scorching howl of protest.
Producer: Sayed Ahmad Samsam Shariat. Screenwriter: F. Kamkari. Cinematographer: Tiraj Aslani. Editor: Amin Aslani. With: Mehdi Asadi, Parviz Moasesi, Shilan Rahmani. 35mm, 83 min.
Friday February 6 2004, 7:30PM
DANCING IN THE DUST
(Raghs Dar Ghober)
(2003) Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Although DANCING IN THE DUST begins as a heartfelt melodrama about a youthful marriage gone awry, things really get interesting when the immature groom finds himself unexpectedly stranded in the desert. With a grizzled and taciturn snake hunter his only companion and guide—and his only chance to make it back to civilization alive—our protagonist finds himself forced to grow up fast. As the two men from different generations alternately spar and attempt to bond, the stakes continue to rise until the standoff is interrupted by a life-or-death emergency. The result is a poetic examination of wasted lives and second chances.
Producer: Iraj Taghipour. Screenwriter: A. Farhadi. Cinematographer: Hassan
Karimi. Editor: Saeed Shahsavari. With: Faramarz Gharibian, Yousef
Khodaparast, Baran Kosari, Jalal Sarhad-Seraj. 35mm, 95 min.
Sunday February 8 2004, 7:00PM
(2003) Directed by Abolfazl Jalili
Abolfazl Jalili’s astonishing new film is a semi-autobiographical story set in the late 1970s, in the tumultuous period just before the Revolution. The story centers around sixteen year-old Emkan, a sensitive, curious and artisitically inclined youth whose creative leanings are constantly stifled by his conservative family. To complicate matters further, Emkan, a Muslim, falls in love with the beautiful Maassoum, a young Jewish girl whose family runs a local cinema. Soon the two youths are caught between their feelings for each other and the outrage of their families. Out of this story and the perfectly nuanced performances of its two young actors, Jalili has crafted a masterpiece, infused with subtlety and tender humor.
Producer: Emmanuel Benbihy. Screenwriter/Editor: A. Jalili. Cinematographer:
Mehdi Majde Vaziri. With: Mehdi Morady, Mina Molania, Sharare Roohy, Fariba
Khademy. 35mm, 111 min.
For further info, please call 310.206.FILM or log on to www.cinema.ucla.edu.
All films screen at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall, located on the northeast corner of the UCLA campus, near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Hilgard Avenue.
Tickets are available at the theater one hour before showtime. Admission is $7 general; $5 students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID. Admission to the Animation From Iran program is $5 per person.
NOTE: Advance tickets for all programs are now available for $8 using your credit card at www.cinema.ucla.edu!
Free street parking after 6 pm daily on Loring Ave. at Charing Cross Rd.; or for $7 in Lot 3, adjacent to the James Bridges Theater.