The 6th Iranian Film Festival (IFF) will be held at the San Francisco Film Institute on Sept 28 and 29. The festival is a showcase of independent feature and short films made by or about Iranians from around the world under the banner “Discovering the Next Generation of Iranian Filmmakers”. The event was established to support Iranian film and culture in the Iranian-American community of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. All films are in English or have English subtitles.
Some of the films this year include:
“No Burqas Behind Bars” (Opening film, Sept 23) by Nima Sarvestani, (Sweden/Afghanistan/Iran, 2013) is a feature-length documentary with an inside view of an Afghan women’s prison. Most of the women are incarcerated for several years from fleeing their husbands. The documentary will be shown with “Parvaneh” by Talkhon Hamzavi, (Switzerland 2012) about a young Afghan immigrant (Nissa Kashani) who arrives in a transit system for asylum seekers in the Swiss Alps. The young bewildered stranger in a strange land is befriended by a young Swiss punk girl (Cheryl Graf).
“Meeting Leila” by Adel Yaraghi (Iran 2012) with screenplay by Abbas Kiarostami & Adel Yaraghi is a film about a fiancée’s nuptial condition to her betrothed to quit smoking, an almost impossible request since he works in advertising where smoking is part of the creative process.
“Just Like a Woman” by Rachid Bouchareb (Iran 2012) is a narrative about two woman trapped in a marriage who meet each other by chance and embark on a supportive friendship.
One of the special features of the festival is the presentation of classic vintage films.
“Rounama Dance” by Houshang Shafti (Iran 1971) is a rare short film that has been digitally restored by the festival about a traditional Iranian wedding ceremony and customs prevalent in the old days.
Also screening is “Poppy is Also a Flower” (UK/US/Iran 1966) with an all star cast – Yul Brynner, Omar Sharif, Angie Dickinson, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Rita Hayworth, Trevor Howard, Trini López, E.G. Marshall, Marcello Mastroianni, Senta Berger, Anthony Quayle, Eli Wallach, and Grace Kelly. The film shot in Iran is directed by Terence Young, 1966 who is the helmer behind three James Bond films, Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), and Thunderball (1965). The original story was written by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond. The film was screened when it was released and has not been seen until recently in the USA.
The story set in Iran is about US undercover agents attempting to infiltrate a notorious drug ring, buy opium and lace it with radioactive tracers that can be located with a Geiger counter. The trail leads them through Europe and has a strong anti drug message. Many of the actors worked for free because they believed in the film.
“Lady Tehran” by director Camille Simony who will appear in person (France, 2013) is a short poetic film about a taxi driver in Tehran.
“Pulp Farsi” by David Vee ( Australia 2013 ) is a special documentary on contemporary Iran. The filmmaker spent two years as an expat using a small handheld camera since filmmaking on the streets is forbidden in Iran.
“Ambrosia” by Baharak Saeid Monir, her first feature, (Canada2012) is about a beautiful and talented fashion designer (Sahar Biniaz, Miss Universe Canada 2012) whose female boss takes an interest in her in an entanglement which threatens her marriage and way of life.
Screening before “Ambrosia” is the short film “The Girl In The Lemon Factory” by Chiara Marañón (Spain) & Abbas Kiarostami (Iran 2013).
“Simin, Resident of a Wandering Island” by Hassan Solhjou ( UK 2013) features Simin Daneshavr, an Iranian pioneering novelist who lived for a century under three different political regimes. She and her husband Jalal Al Ahamd have been regarded as the”Iranian Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre”. The film shows the changes for women in Iran through Simin’s life during the years when independence for women was lost and a strict religious code imposed.
Several Iranian short filmmakers will be present during the screenings.