UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema – April 25 to May 16


UCLA Archive once again explores the diverse currents of Iranian cinema with its annual series highlighting recent and classic films from Iran and the Iranian diaspora.  In the wake of Asghar Farhadi’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar win for A Separation in 2011, the depth and breadth of Iranian cinema today continues to amaze even as the challenges faced by its filmmakers remain of concern.  While established masters continue to make their unique voices heard, including writer-director Rakhshan Banietemad, whose award-winning Tales (2014) opens this year’s series, newer filmmakers continue to captivate.  Farhadi’s influence can be felt in a number of outstanding, tightly-wound contemporary dramas by emerging directors [Melbourne (2014), I’m Not Angry (2014)], while others are charting radically different paths visually and narratively [Fish & Cat (2013), 316 (2014)].  It’s a heady mix that makes this a particularly fascinating moment to be surveying the landscape of this always invigorating national cinema.  As in recent years, it is anticipated that some filmmakers will appear in person to discuss their work.  Please check our web site for updates on in-person guests.
 IN PERSON:  Rakhshan Banietemad (4/25); Shahram Mokri (4/26); Kamran Heidari (4/27); Sepideh Farsi (5/8); Zhinous Pedram (5/10); Amir Badie (5/16).

Saturday, April 25
7:30 p.m.
TALES  (Ghesse-ha)
Iran, 2014
Iran Novin Film.  Producer: Rakhshan Banietemad.  Director: Rakhshan Banietemad.  Screenwriter: Rakhshan Banietemad, Farid Mostafavi.  Cinematographer: Koohyar Kalari.  Editor: Sepideh Abdolvahab.  With: Fatemeh Motamed Aria, Payman Maadi, Baran Kosari, Farhad Aslani, Mohammadreza Forootan.
Co-writer-director Rakhshan Banietemad’s return to fiction filmmaking, greeted with the Best Screenplay award at Venice, is a tour-de-force portrait of a people and a society at the breaking point.  In a series of interlocking short stories, Banietemad takes up the lives of characters from some of her previous films [Gilenah (2005), The Blue-Veil (1995), etc.] to find them still struggling for some degree of personal freedom and dignity.  The film’s pervading sense of despair makes it all the more poignant when some do manage to find it, even if in fleeting glimpses in the night.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 91 min.
 IN PERSON:  Rakhshan Banietemad.
Note:  Online tickets for this event have sold out.  Stand-by line only.

Sunday, April 26
3 p.m.    •note later screening this same day

I’M NOT ANGRY  (Asabani nistam!)
Iran, 2014
Producer: Reza Dormishian.  Director: Reza Dormishian.  Screenwriter: Reza Dormishian.  Cinematographer: Ali Azhari. Editor: Haydeh Safiyari.  With: Baran Kosari, Navid Mohammadzadeh, Reza Behoudi, Misagh Zare, Bahram Afshari.
The title of director Reza Dormishian’s second feature echoes the prescribed mantra given to Navid (Mohammadzadeh) by his psychiatrist (along with antidepressants) to recite when events feel overwhelmed.  For Navid, a university student expelled for political activity, however, his explosive rage has deeper sources.  Jarring in tone and visually arresting, I’m Not Angry (2014) captures the seething frustrations of a generation with a blunt frankness that led to its being pulled from competition at the Fajr Film Festival.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 110 min.

Sunday, April 26
7 p.m.    •note earlier screening this same day
FISH & CAT  (Mahi va gorbeh)
Iran, 2013
Kanoon Iran Novin.  Producer: Sepehr Seifi.  Director: Shahram Mokri.  Screenwriter: Shahram Mokri.  Cinematographer: Mahmoud Kalari.  With: Babak Karimi, Saeed Ebrahimifar, Siavash Cheraghipoor, Mohammad Berahmani, Faraz Modiri.
Selected for New Directors/New Films in 2014, Fish & Cat heralds the emergence of a fresh and original new voice in Iranian cinema.  Shot entirely in a single, black and white bravura camera take, writer-director Shahram Mokri’s second feature plays mind-bending games with time and place while a pair of potential serial killer cannibals stalk a group of camping students at a lake.  Thoroughly creepy, but never (really) gory, Fish & Cat reveals an absurdist, apocalyptic edge in the end that suggests more the influence of Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, than American horror films.
DCP, bw, in Persian with English subtitles, 134 min.
 IN PERSON:  Shahram Mokri.

 Monday, April 27
7:30 p.m.
Iran, 2013
Producer: Merdad Monavarian.  Director: Kamran Heidari.  Cinematographer: Kamran Heidari.  Editor: Bahman Kiarostami.  With: Negahdar Jamali.
Utterly unexpected and thoroughly charming, director Kamran Heidari’s debut documentary about an amateur filmmaker in southwestern Iran explodes preconceived notions and illuminates the universal power of popular culture.  Since he was a teen, Negahdar Jamali has obsessively made low-budget westerns modeled on his idols John Ford and Sergio Leone in the arid plains surrounding his hometown of Shiraz.  Ignored by the official film ministry and harangued by his long-suffering wife, Jamali perseveres with a dreamer’s passion.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 65 min.
IN PERSON:  Kamran Heidari.

 Friday, May 1
7:30 p.m.
TODAY  (Emrouz)
Iran, 2014
IFilm.  Producer: Reza Mirkarimi.  Director: Reza Mirkarimi.  Screenwriter: Reza Mirkarimi, Shadmehr Rastin.  Cinematographer: Houman Behmanesh.  Editor: Reza Mirkarimi.  With: Parviz Parastui, Soheila Golestani, Shabnam Moghadami.
Iran’s official submission for Oscar consideration this year, writer-director Reza Mirkarimi’s tense, powerful drama unfolds over a single day in a hospital maternity ward after a taciturn cab driver allows himself to be drawn into the personal crisis of a distraught woman who jumps into his backseat.  Mirkarimi keeps his character’s true motivations obscured at every turn as circumstances shift, suspicions mount and the hypocrisy of certain social and cultural taboos are exposed.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 88 min.

Saturday, May 2
7:30 p.m.
RED CARPET  (Farshe Ghermez)
Iran, 2014
Iran Novin Film.  Producer: Ahmad Ahmadi, Maryam Shafiee.  Director: Reza Attaran.  Screenwriter: Reza Ataran.  Cinematographer: Keyvan Moghadam.  Editor: Mohammad Tavakoli.  With: Reza Attaran, Marc Ansari, Susan Parvar, Amir Nuri, Marilou Ming Lana.
One of Iran’s most famous comedians, Reza Attaran takes on Hollywood and the international media in this, ultimately, gentle satire set against the real glitz of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.  Attaran himself plays a naive, struggling actor who journeys from Tehran to film’s annual epicenter to get his screenplay to Steven Spielberg.  While the film is shot in the style of Borat (2006)—sans the crassness—Attaran’s escalating comic provocations render him more like a Persian Rupert Pupkin.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 80 min.

Wednesday, May 6
7:30 p.m.
WHAT’S THE TIME IN YOUR WORLD?  (Dar donyaye to sa’at chand ast?)
Iran, 2014
Director: Safi Yazdanian.  Screenwriter: Safi Yazdanian.  With: Leila Hatami, Ali Mosaffa, Ebrahim Zamir.
Leila Hatami stars as Goli, a woman who returns to her hometown after decades living abroad to find a strange amnesia clouding her memory.  She is met at the airport by Farhad (Ali Mosaffa), a mysterious local merchant she does not know, but who seems to know everything about her.  He becomes her empathetic guide to the transformed town as well as her own past leading her on a journey of self-discovery suffused with romantic melancholy.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 101 min.

Friday, May 8
7:30 p.m.
France/Greece/Iran, 2014
Ciné-Sud Promotion, Pan Entertainment SA, Rêves d’Eau Productions.  Producer: Thierry Lenouvel.  Director: Sepideh Farsi.  Screenwriter: Javad Djavahery, Sepideh Farsi.  Cinematographer: Pantelis Mantzanas.  Editor: Bonita Papstathi.  With: Mina Kavani, Vassilis Koukalani.
Paris-based writer-director Sepideh Farsi ingeniously employs a single setting to dramatize the vicissitudes of political idealism in intimate and deeply personal ways.  As the Green Revolution explodes around him, Ali, a damaged veteran of protests decades ago, holes up in his apartment but events come to him when a young woman seeks shelter from the police.  He lets her in and, over the days and weeks of unrest to come, they start an intense, dangerous, high-wire relationship that challenges them both in unpredictable ways.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 87 min.
 IN PERSON:  Sepideh Farsi.

Sunday, May 10
7 p.m.  
Iran, 2014
Noori Pictures.  Producer: Payman Haghani.  Director: Payman Haghani.  Screenwriter: Payman Haghani, Hamid Reza Keshani.  Cinematographer: Davood Malek Hosseini.  Editor: Hayedeh Safiyari.  With: Sara Vazirzadeh (narrator).
Just as Amelie (2001) assumed its heroine’s unique perspective to speak to the general nature of France and Frenchness, writer-director Payman Haghani [A Man Who Ate His Cherries (2009)] reflects on recent Iranian experience through one woman’s singular passion for shoes.  As she recalls her life in voiceover, from a childhood interrupted by revolution and war, through adulthood, motherhood and old age, Haghani fills the screen with playful, inventive, striking images framed entirely around people’s footwear.  The result is as beguiling as it is moving.
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 72 min.
 Preceded by:

Iran, 2014
Director: Zhinous Pedram.
Slowly, cautiously, with a mounting anticipation, a young girl makes her way out into world in director Zhinous Pedram’s lovely, beautifully shot paean to the adventure of girlhood.
Blu-ray, color, 6 min.
IN PERSON:   Zhinous Pedram.

Friday, May 15
7:30 p.m.
Iran, 2014
Inan Independents.  Producer: Javad Norouzbeigi.  Director: Nima Javidi.  Screenwriter: Nima Javidi.  Cinematographer: Hooman Behmanesh.  Editor: Sepideh Adovahab.  With: Payman Maadi, Negar Javaherian, Mani Haghighi, Shirin Yazdanbaksh, Elham Korda.
Writer-director Nima Javidi’s remarkable debut feature opens as a young couple in Tehran prepares for an imminent trip abroad.  A patient accumulation of familiar detail—the hurried list checking, the small annoyances of packing—hints at their hopeful expectations for the future, which would seem to include the baby sleeping in their back bedroom.  Then everything turns upside down.  Before we know it, Javidi plunges us into one the most nerve-wracking, nail-biting, what-would-you-do ethical thrillers in recent memory.  It’s a ride you don’t want to miss. 
DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles,  91 min.

Saturday, May 16
7:30 p.m.
STILL LIFE  (Tabiate bijan)
Iran, 1974
Director: Sohrab Shahid Saless.  Screenwriter: Sohrab Shahid Saless.  With: Zadour Bonyadi, Mohammed Kani, Hibibollah Safarian.
Winner of the Silver Bear at Berlin in 1974, Still Life and its “translucent realism,” in the words of scholar Hamid Dabashi, confirmed Sohrab Shahid Saless as a “leading visionary of his generation.”  Saless’ measured pacing and long takes transform the story of an elderly attendant of an isolated railroad crossing who is forced to retire into a powerful meditation on the larger forces—modernity, tradition culture—that shape the everyday.
35mm, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 93 min.
 Preceded by:

Iran, 2009
Director: Aziz Saati.  Screenwriter: Aziz Saati.  With: Naser Malek Motiei, Bahman Farmanara, Houshang Kavoosi.
This heartfelt tribute pays homage to Iranian cinema pioneer Mohsen Badie, founder of what Hamid Naficy described as “perhaps the best film lab in Iran.”  Badie’s sons, who took over the lab, and filmmakers such as Bahman Farmanara, recount Badie’s significant contributions to such landmark productions as A Party in Hell (1958), Prince Ehtejab (1974) and Still Life (1974), as well as his own important work as producer, director and cinematographer.
DCP, b/w, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 45 min.
 IN PERSON:  Amir Badie.

The Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood Village, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA  90024 (corner of Wilshire & Westwood Blvds., courtyard level of the Hammer Museum).
Advance tickets are available online for $10.
Tickets are also available at the Billy Wilder Theater box office beginning one hour before showtime: $9, general admission; FREE to all UCLA students with valid ID; $8, other students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID.
At the Billy Wilder Theater for a $3 flat rate on weekdays after 6 p.m. and all day on Saturdays and Sundays.  Enter from Westwood Blvd., just north of Wilshire.
www.cinema.ucla.edu | 310-206-FILM (-3456)


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