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vendredi 13 juillet 2012


Some Good News about Iran
These days, one hardly hears anything good from Iran. Just yesterday USA tightened the sanctions against Iran, banning certain people and  companies including some tanker operations ferrying Iranian Crude Oil to India and China. Iranian backed Syrian Government , Hezbollah and Hamas continue to wreak havoc in the Middle Eastern Landscape. So I am happy to hear and write about some good news from Iran.
It is about Iranian Cinema. Where did my love for Iranian Cinema begin? I clearly remember, at the small movie theatre in Coral Gables in Miami, where non commercial artsy films were shown, one day I sat watching a simple movie about a little girl: the While Balloon.. It touched my heart and at that time I was not fully aware of the social situation in Iran to fully appreciate its subtleties but certainly loved the cinematography, simple theme, the little girl actress and the hassle and bustle of every day life in Teheran, perhaps a few days before the Nowruz celebrations.  At that time I was also traveling frequently to the Southern Cone Countries, and I was surprised to see advertised in Sao Paolo: International Iranian Film Festival, an annual event. A close friend of mine, an artist was also fanatical about Iranian culture and I was uncomfortable with the incongruity of it all: Brazil, Iranian Cinema, fascination with Iranian culture and Arts.. It took years for all of that to sink in.
But Iran of the current day, is truly a gift from my good friend in Malaysia. I cherish the books on Shanameh and Hafez she gave me as presents on my visits to Malaysia.
So forget about Nuclear Armaments and Illegal Oil exports and read about some good news from that cradle of Asian Civilization (all countries in Asia and Middle East and Central Asia with the exception of Mongol countries: China and Japan) are heavily influenced by Iranian culture. This was clear to me when eating at an “Indian” resto called Hyderabad in KL, my Iranian friend could recognize in one form or another all the dishes in the menu, most of which had Iranian origins! Moguls in India were Persian Speaking, At least two countries have versions of Persian as their national language (Dari and Tajik).. The List goes on and on..

Asghar Farhadi – first winner of the EU MEDIA prize, 65th Cannes Film Festival
Lovers of Iranian Cinema would easily recognize this name, splashed over the world, when he won a string of awards, including the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film:  The Separation.
He has been once again recognized this year, at the  2012 Cannes Film Festival, being awarded the first ever EU MEDIA prize. His next project will be filmed in France in French, (producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy)
What is this attraction to France?
Mohsen Makhmalbaf, well known director of Kandahar, a film about pre-sept 11 Afghanistan left Iran in 2005 after the election of the new president and now lives in Paris.
That giant of Iranian cinema, Abbas Kiarostami , if I am not mistaken also makes France his home, A Certified Copy starred Juliet Binoche which won her the Best Actress Award at Cannes 2010, was his French effort.
He also made a movie in Japan last year, Like Someone in Love, with a Japanese cast and in Japanese! He wrote the screen play for The White Balloon directed by Jafar Panahi (who is in virtual house arrest in Iran, banned from making movies)

It was nice to see that the second Australian Film Festival of Iranian Cinema would happen in major Australian cities this October 2012. I am sure they would screen The Last Step, which just won awards at the Karlovy Vary film festival, with Leila Hatami (she of The Separation, looking like Isabella Rossalini) taking the prize for the Best Actress. It was directed by her husband Ali Mosaffa who also starred in the film.

Best Actress Award

Leila Hatami 
for her role in the film The Last Step / Peleh akhar 
Directed by: Ali Mosaffa 
Iran, 2012