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Cannes Film Festival 2024 ::
Francis Ford Coppola Finally Talks Megalopolis

The Oscar-winning legend has been the subject of deafening rumors about his self-financed new epic. For the first time in public, he finally got to tell his story...
UPDATE :: I exist to narrate :: Mohammad Rasoulof writes about his forced departure from Iran
By publishing a post on his personal Instagram page, he announced his forced departure from Iran. His writing, which you can read here, is a testament to the many artists who were driven..
The Phoenix (Simorgh) is finally online!
The Phoenix (Simorgh) is a short film Written & Directed by Nora Niasari. It follows Mr Farid, an exiled Iranian actor, who teaches drama to reluctant asylum seeker teenagers inside an Australian Detention Centre..
Films Boutique boards Mohammad Rasoulof’s Cannes Competition title
Berlin-based Films Boutique has secured world sales rights to Mohammad Rasoulof’s 'The Seed Of The Sacred Fig' ahead of its premiere in Competition at Cannes, and has closed a distribution deal in France..
Nika's Last Breath :: BBC World Service Documentaries
Secret document says Iran security forces molested and killed teen protester. An Iranian teenager was sexually assaulted and killed by three men working for Iran's security forces, a leaked document understood to have been..
Cannes Film Festival 2024 :: Michel Hazanavicius & Mohammad Rasoulof Movies in Competition Lineup
Cannes Film Festival has added some international titles to Competition Lineup: Hazanavicius‘ 'The Most Precious of Cargoes' and Rasoulof‘s 'The Seed of the Sacred Fig'..
'Biological Terror?!' :: Speculations about Alidoosti's unknown disease
According to some sources, Taraneh told her colleagues that she passed out during her interrogation by IRGC intelligence agents and then, realized that she was injected with an unknown ampoule, after which she felt dizzy..
Taraneh Alidoosti's mother: Pray for her! Her disease is severe!
The celebrated Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti's mother has announced that her daughter is suffering from an illness of "unknown origin". Earlier, there were reports that Taraneh Alidoosti was ill and hospitalized..
‘The Apprentice’ :: A dive into the underbelly of the American empire
The drama charts a young Donald Trump’s ascent to power through a Faustian deal with the influential right-wing lawyer and political fixer Roy Cohn. A first look at the forthcoming film from Ali Abbasi, set to premiere at Cannes..
STOCKFISH 2024 :: Review: Tove’s Room
A new biopic about Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen and her tortured marriage to the sadistic news editor Victor Andreasen. We’re in Copenhagen in 1969, and the entire action of this tense, neurotic – yet very intriguing – kammerspiel takes place..
American Fiction :: Movie Review
Jeffrey Wright gives a knockout performance in this edgy, Oscar-nominated comedy. Cord Jefferson marries broad humour with affecting familial dysfunction and biting observations on race. This season’s edgiest comedy arrives with richly deserved Oscar nominations for..
CPH:DOX 2024 :: Review: Silent Trees
Zwiefka – whose last film, Vika! has enjoyed a healthy festival run and is still travelling the world – now trains her lens on a completely different topic: the story of a Kurdish refugee girl stranded in the no man’s land between Belarus and Poland...
CPH:DOX 2024 :: Review: Immortals
Immortals is a dystopian film that turns into an ode to fragility, and it shows the contrasting feelings of those who allowed themselves the luxury of hoping that David might kill Goliath. Maja Tschumi’s film is built around the hopes and broken dreams, but most of all the..
Exiled Iranian Filmmakers Call Out AMPAS Over Omission
Exiled Iranian Filmmakers (IIFMA) has written to AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) to protest the omission of murdered Iranian director Dariush Mehrjui from the In Memoriam segment of the Academy Award..
Oscar 2024 :: How to Watch Every 2024 Oscar-Nominated Movie
It’s time to fire up your Letterboxd, roller-skate out of the real world, and head off to movie land. The 2024 Oscar nominations have been officially announced, giving you a perfect watchlist for catching up on all the films you..
Berlin: Indie Juries Pick :: ‘Sex’, ‘Dying’ and ‘Cake’
Matthias Glasner's German family epic 'Sterben' (Dying), Iranian feature 'My Favourite Cake,' and Dag Johan Haugerud's Norwegian drama 'Sex' picked up multiple awards from the independent juries at the 74th Berlinale..
BERLINALE 2024 Awards :: Mati Diop’s Dahomey bags the Golden Bear
The 74th Berlinale (15-25 February) was brought to a close tonight by the traditional awards ceremony at the Berlinale Palast, which saw the triumph of Mati Diop’s Dahomey, the winner of this year’s Golden Bear..
BERLINALE 2024 :: Competition Review: Architecton
Several thousand years of architectural history are woven together in Kossakovsky's visionary blockbuster, which almost without dialogue - but with images as sharp as flint and a soundtrack as massive as a pillow - is a total cinematic..
BERLINALE 2024 :: Review: Afterwar
An immersive and uncategorisable film, shot over a period of 15 years, was made in close collaboration with its four Kosovar protagonists. A dark chapter in modern European history draws to a close. Haunted by memories of the past and caught in an uncertain state of limbo..
BERLINALE 2024 Competition :: Review: My Favourite Cake
All eyes were on writer-directors Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha – or, rather, their absence – at the world premiere of their new film, My Favourite Cake, which has just made its debut in the Competition section of..
NAVALNY (2022) :: Navalny’s Plight in a Russian Prison Highlighted
The fact that this documentary movie involves one of the most brazen incidents of state sponsored assassination in memory means this is a unique document of a very singular man. After almost being poisoned to death in 2020..
CPH:DOX 2024 :: The line-up of the 2024 CPH:DOX competitions
CPH:DOX unveils the films nominated across all six award categories. The selection features 66 films in competition, among which 47 are world premieres, 17 international premieres and 2 European premieres..
BERLINALE 2024 :: ‘My Favourite Cake’ Directors Deliver Powerful Message From Iran
‘My Favourite Cake’ Directors Deliver Powerful Message From Iran After Authorities Banned Travel to Berlinale: ‘Like Parents Forbidden From Looking at Their Newborn Child’..
Farshad Hashemi :: Director of 'Me, Maryam, the Children and 26 Others' :: Interview
“I can’t predict the future, but I know this is just the beginning”. The winner of Göteborg’s Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award plays with fact and fiction in his debut film..
BERLINALE 2024 :: EXCLUSIVE :: Trailer for Berlinale Panorama entry 'My Stolen Planet'
The German-Iranian co-production is a diary-style narrative by Farahnaz Sharifi, from her childhood to the 2022 Women, Life, Freedom uprising..
Farshad Hashemi's film wins The Ingmar Bergman Debut Award at Goteborg Film Festival
The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award goes to Farshad Hashemi's feature debut 'Me, Maryam, The Children And 26 Others'. The prize consists of a stay at The Bergman Estate on..
‘Eternal’ :: Rotterdam Review :: A soulful exploration of love and regret
How can you commit to the future when life on earth seems so finite? It is a question that haunts the central character in writer/director Ulaa Salim’s admirably offbeat romance Eternal..
IFFR 2024 Tiger Competition :: 'Me, Maryam, the Children and 26 Others'
Farshad Hashemi's feature debut, Me, Maryam, the Children and 26 Others, which has just world-premiered in IFFR's Tiger Competition, will inevitably inspire associations with Iranian cinema's tradition of intertwining..
Berlinale Calls for Iran to Allow Directors to Attend Festival
The Berlin Film Festival has called on Iran to allow directors Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha to leave the country to attend the world premiere of their new film My Favorite Cake..
"My Favourite Cake" :: to premiere in the Berlinale Competition
Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha’s My Favourite Cake to premiere in the Berlinale Competition. Last year, the pair were banned from travelling in relation to their film..
Asghar Farhadi, Iranian filmmaker :: “I saw how powerful women are”
In a new interview with french newspaper Le Monde, Farhadi reveals he won't be making any new films in Iran, for the time being, as an act of resistance against the regime..
IPADOC 2024 :: Review :: Son of the Mullah
Nahid Persson pays tribute to Rouhollah Zam, an exiled Iranian activist and journalist with a tragic fate, with a moving film about the pursuit of regime opponents. “I had a beautiful life before I left Iran”..
‘Gunda’ :: Berlin Review :: Intensely moving and quite genuinely unique
Anyone who never thought they could imagine the feelings of an animal will have their mind changed here. Viktor Kossakovsky’s extraordinary film is every bit as resonant as Bresson’s ’Balthazar’ or Bela Tarr’s ’Turin Horse’..
BERLINALE 2024 :: “Sons” by Gustav Möller :: Selected for main Competition
BERLIN. “The Guilty” director Gustav Möller's prison drama “Sons” will be celebrating the World premiere in the International Competition strand of the Berlinale as the first Danish-language film in eight years..
BERLINALE 2024 Competition :: Encounters
The Berlinale (15-25 February) has announced the full line-ups of its Competition and Encounters sections. Twenty films will vie for the Golden and Silver Bears, including two debut features..
La chimera :: A fairy tale with a social conscience and plenty of humor
Alice Rohrwacher's film is clever, ambitious, and funny throughout, but it also works as an intelligent meditation on our attitudes toward life, love, and death. Get used to her name, because she will be sticking around well after..
Iran: PEN International Calls for investigation over Baktash Abtin’s tragic death
PEN International holds the Iranian authorities fully responsible for the death of the prominent writer, poet, and filmmaker Baktash Abtin and calls for an urgent investigation into..
GOLDEN GLOBES 2024 :: 'Anatomy of a Fall' wins two Golden Globes
Justine Triet’s film shone bright at the ceremony, at which the main winners were Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, which also boast European participation..
Tótem :: A dazzling, vibrant child’s-eye view of jubilation and tragedy
Lila Avilés’s latest film is filtered largely through the perspective of a seven-year-old girl who experiences the ups and downs of life in a day with her big and beautiful family.. A co-production between Mexico, Denmark and..
Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers Is a Holiday Triumph
Alexander Payne's new film The Holdovers, starring Paul Giamatti, is the kind of wonderful comedy-drama we used to take for granted. Today it feels like a cinematic miracle. In Payne’s work, one individual’s failings..
Film Orgs call on Iranian authorities to drop charges against two movie directors
Some 30 film organizations, festivals and professionals have signed an open letter calling on Iranian authorities to immediately drop all charges against directors Maryam Moghadam..
Absence :: Ali Mosaffa's mystical thriller
An Iranian man, while investigating into his father's youth in Prague, finds himself in the shoes of a third man who is almost dead and happens to be his half-brother. Absence is an attempt to shed light on a forgotten corner..
‘Cafe’ :: Review :: Screened at 64th Thessaloniki Int. Film Festival 2023
May seem absurdist, but it is at least partially autobiographical. Like his countryman Jafar Panahi, a ban on filmmaking didn’t stop Mihandoust and, in the three years he was waiting for the sentence to be enacted, he..
Stockholm International Film Festival Awards 2023
Best Film: “The Settlers” by Felipe Gálvez Haberle. In a remarkable triumph, Chilean maestro Felipe Gálvez’s brutal western clinched the coveted Best Film award. The film delves into the annals of Chilean colonization and..
36th TIFF :: Tokyo 2023 :: Winners
Family drama Snow Leopard, directed by the late Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden, has won the Tokyo Grand Prix, the top prize at this year’s Tokyo Film Festival. Tatami by Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Guy Nattiv won the Special Jury Prize, also the award for Best Actress for Zar Amir..
Tokyo Film Festival 2023
The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), set to run October 23 to November 1, revealed the lineup for its 36th edition, including 20 world premieres across its two competition strands. The festival features 15 titles in its main Competition section led by Japan and China..
GoCritic! Animest 2023 :: Review :: The Siren
As shown through the eyes of a teenage boy, Sepideh Farsi's animated film shows both the horrors and kindness that wartime brings. A striking, bleakly beautiful account of living in a war zone, which captures a traumatic and..
LONDON 2023 :: Review :: Celluloid Underground
Unsuitable films were burned after the Islamic regime took over Iran. But one man stashed away reels and reels of banned and western movies – to thrill a new generation in secret film clubs.. A salute to the underground film lovers..
Golshifteh Farahani On the Shocking News of One of Iran's most prominent film-makers' Murder
"I did my very first movie 'The Pear Tree' with him when I was 14 years old. He was One of the most incredible directors of Iran and a great friend throughout these 26 years"..
Noted Iranian film director and his wife found stabbed to death in their home
Fans of the celebrated Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui have woken to the shocking news of his murder at home by an unknown assailant. He was 83. He was a co-founder of Iran’s film new wave in the early 1970s..
ORCA :: A Protest Against Hate, Intolerance and Dehumanization
Iranian swimmer (Taraneh Alidoosti) fights abuse and oppression with an “Orca” as her Spirit Animal. This drama ... is a genuinely inspiring story, in part because it doesn't adhere to the formula we might expect..
Copenhagen Cinematheque :: 'Leila's Brothers' :: Film of the Month in October
Iranian cinema surprised at last year's Cannes festival – this time with a screwball comedy about finances and love, family relations and generational gaps..
LOCARNO 2023 :: Radu Jude :: Interview :: It's Later Than You Think
Jude once again proves himself to be one of the most original auteurs of our times. Moreover, his lack of fear at being controversial – or simply wrong – allows him to create cinema on an extraordinary scale that does not necessarily..
OSCARS 2024 :: European titles submitted for the Oscars race
European countries reveal their titles submitted for the Best International Feature Film Award at the 2024 Academy Awards. With the 96th Academy Awards ceremony scheduled to take place in Hollywood on 10 March, 2024..
Oscars 2024 :: Denmark Picks ‘The Promised Land’ for Best International Feature Category
Denmark has picked its 2024 Oscar contender, selecting period epic The Promised Land as its official Academy Award entry in the best international feature category..
Oscars 2024 :: Sweden selects Milad Alami’s 'Opponent' as Oscar candidate
“We are very proud and honoured to be the Swedish submission to the Oscars this year! I am personally extra proud of our fantastic actors and our team.” Alami said. The film produced by Annika Rogell for Tangy is also nominated for..
Female Freedom Fighters :: The Politics of Women's Hair
Why the World’s First Feminist Revolution is Happening in Iran. A female revolution is underway in Iran. The mullahs are fighting back with brutal force. A year after it all began, women aren't giving up..
Oscars 2024 :: 'The Night Guardian' :: Iran Oscar entry
Iran has submitted Reza Mirkarimi’s The Night Guardian for Best International Film category at the 96th Academy Awards, in a move that will likely prompt pushback from the country’s dissident film community..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Green Border’ Review: Agnieszka Holland’s Humanitarian heart-in-mouth thriller Masterpiece
A modern-day resistance movie dealing with a new kind of fascism, and very much of a piece with Holland's previous classics 'In Darkness'..
Venice 2023 Winners :: Full List :: Golden Lion Goes To Yorgos Lanthimos For ‘Poor Things’
The 80th Venice Film Festival handed out its awards and Yorgos Lanthimos has clinched the top prize with his latest feature Poor Things, starring Emma Stone; Hamaguchi, Sarsgaard..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Evil Does Not Exist’ Review :: Ryusuke Hamaguchi Delivers A Constantly Surprising Film
Nature cannot be evil, only indifferent. But what about us? Hamaguchi is not interested in taking the easy road to a satisfactory resolution. On the contrary; his story runs up hard against..
Venice 2023 :: ‘The Beast’ Review :: Bertrand Bonello’s Trippy Sci-Fi
Is it sci-fi? Is it a romance? Is it a mystery? Is it a drama? It’s all these things together and none of them at the same time. It is moving and alienating, intellectual and visceral, it is challenging and confusing but it’s undeniably a..
Venice 2023 :: Woody Allen Gets Rapturous Reception :: Talks Love Of European Cinema; Life-Career Luck..
Allen was last in Venice in 2007, with Cassandra’s Dream starring Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor, and prior to that was invited in 1995 to receive a Career Golden Lion, but did..
VENICE 2023 Giornate degli Autori :: Interview: Ayat Najafi :: Director of The Sun Will Rise
The director talks about his Iranian-shot film, which documents the trials and tribulations of a theatre company, while outside, in the streets, youngsters are demonstrating..
Venice 2023 Flash Mob :: In Solidarity with Iranian pro-democracy protests
Jane Campion, Damien Chazelle, Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Guy Nattiv joined a flash mob on the Venice Film Festival’s red carpet on Saturday in support of the Woman, Life, Freedom protests in Iran..
Venice 2023 (Orizzonti) :: ‘Tatami’ Review :: Potent Political Sport Thriller
Billed as the first feature film to be co-directed by an Iranian and an Israeli filmmaker, “Tatami” goes all in with a lean and tense narrative that is part sport movie, part political thriller — with both parts equally neatly realized..
Variety (EXCLUSIVE) :: Iranian Filmmaker Ali Asgari Banned From Traveling & Making Movies
Ali Asgari, whose latest film “Terrestrial Verses” (co-directed by Alireza Khatami) world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, has been banned by the Iranian authorities from leaving the country and directing movies until further notice..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Priscilla’ Gets 7-Minute-Plus Ovation In Venice
Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla got a rousing response at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Monday evening. The pic, a biopic of Priscilla Presley, who was in attendance for the movie based on the memoir she co-authored, scored..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Poor Things’ Review :: Emma Stone In Yorgos Lanthimos’ Glorious Paean To Freedom
Flamboyant, florid, fantastic, and freakish, this might well be one of the most unique movies you’ll ever see. Screening in competition in Venice and certainly one of the most eagerly..
Venice 2023 :: The Promised Land (Bastarden) :: Mads Mikkelsen At His Staunch, Heroic Best
A classic Scandinavian drama about human frailty, The Promised Land is earthy, enjoyable stuff: an expansive, sweeping epic with hope in its heart and dirt under its nails..
Venice 2023 :: ‘El Conde’ Review :: Pablo Larraín’s Latest Is A Bold, Wildly Irreverent Sensational Creation
A madly inspired reinvention of events embedded in the notion that longtime Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet became a vampire who ultimately tires of life and wants out after..
Venice Film Festival 2023 :: All Of Deadline’s Movie Reviews
The Venice Film Festival began August 30 with opening-night movie 'Comandante', an Italian World War II drama.. Deadline is on the ground to watch all the key films. Here is a compilation of our reviews from the fest..
Lars Von Trier Makes A Social Media Plea For A Girlfriend/Muse
He Says He Has “A Few Decent Films” Left In Him. Should we actually be surprised when Lars von Trier goes on social media to post a video about his search for a new girlfriend? Will Lars von Trier find her, and thus, continue his life as a feature..
“They don’t just look like us, It’s like we’re clones.” Seeing is believing: after getting a peek at the look-alikes in question, skeptical but sympathetic Jalal can only agree that something spooky is going on..
Celebrated Iranian Filmmaker Receives Prison Sentence over "Leila’s Brothers"
Renowned filmmaker and screenwriter Saeed Roustayi has been handed a six-month prison sentence, along with supplementary penalties, by the Tehran Revolutionary Court, as revealed by..
LOCARNO 2023 Competition
Review: ‘Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World’

Radu Jude’s eighth fiction feature seems to imply that the apocalypse might not arrive as a spectacular big bang, but rather as a flood of stupidity – and it’s actually already here..
Locarno Film Festival Awards :: ‘Critical Zone,’ the Film the Iranian Government Doesn’t Want to Be Seen, Wins Big at Swiss Fest
The hype is real: Ali Ahmadzadeh’s “Critical Zone” (“Mantagheye bohrani”) has picked up the top Golden Leopard at Locarno. ..
LOCARNO 2023 Competition
Review: 'Critical Zone'

Ali Ahmadzadeh’s third film defies Iran’s authoritarian regime, painting the portrait of a tired and unpredictable society which now believes in nothing but artificial paradises..
'Silent House' :: Award winner at Melgaco film festival 2023
“My brother and I weren’t able to leave (Iran) due to false and unfair accusations that were made against us. We lost many opportunities that our film created for us due to the ban”..
IFFR 2021 Limelight :: Review: 'Mitra'
37 years after her daughter was executed in Iran, Haleh finds the woman who betrayed her. The traitor, now a loving mother herself and just arrived in the Netherlands, does not recognize Haleh and trusts her as an older and wiser countryman. While Haleh is plotting her..
Iranian Authorities Pressure ‘Critical Zone’ Director to Pull Out of Locarno Film Festival
The film, shot without Iranian authorities’ permission before the “Woman, Life, Freedom” revolution in Iran, is billed as an artistic reflection on the anger and the rage of the young generation of Iranians..
VENICE 2023 :: 30 Aug. - 9 Sep.
Competition :: Out of Competition

Fewer Hollywood stars and more high-quality films from all over the world will grace the Venice agenda. The festival is celebrating its 80-year anniversary with a jam-packed programme and zero defections by independent productions..
Milan Kundera: From the JOKE to INSIGNIFICANCE
The only documentary about Milan Kundera's legacy. Why were Milan Kundera's books so successful all over the world? Why did he move to France and started writing in French? What is behind the fact that Kundera banned his French books from being translated to Czech?..
Films :: Reviews :: 'Oppenheimer' :: More than just a bookish geek
Nolan’s Oppenheimer barely qualifies as a biopic... Instead it’s a movie investigating the nature of power: how it is created, how it is kept in balance, and how it leads people into murky quandaries that refuse simplistic answers..
'Seven Winters in Tehran' :: Exposing the silenced voices of women in Iran
Under trial for stabbing to death the man she was assaulted by in Tehran, Reyhaneh says it’s been self-defense, «What else could I do?» she says to the judge, and she is replied: «You should let him rape you. And then sue him»..
KARLOVY VARY 2023 Competition :: Review :: 'Empty Nets'
Behrooz Karamizade's debut feature shows how even the most ordinary Iranian citizens are only ever just a few strokes of bad luck and desperate decisions away from losing everything..
IFP Exclusive :: Cinema :: Iranian filmmakers slam court ruling against actress Azadeh Samadi
The Iranian Cinema Directors Association and the Cinema Producers Union have objected to a court ruling against famous actress Azadeh Samadi for ignoring the Hijab rule..
Ali Abbasi :: Interview :: On the Films that Shaped him
"What I know about film, I learned at Cinemateket in Stockholm." A discussion about Ali Abbasi's entry into the world of film and the cinema experience as well as .. - and his ambivalent relationship with Iranian cinema..
The computers are taking over :: Actors Strike Could Hinge On AI
As talks between the actors union and the studios come to down to the final days before the extension of SAG-AFTRA’s current contract expires, Artificial Intelligence has become a significant obstacle to any deal..
Will an Actors Strike Mean Empty Red Carpets at Venice and Toronto?
What if you held a red carpet and nobody came? For organizers of the fall film festivals — and studios planning splashy summer premieres — that nightmare scenario looks likely to come true after contract negotiations..
KARLOVY VARY 2023 Proxima :: Review :: Brutal Heat
Social surrealism flourishes in the Gen Z-centred coming-of-age road movie directed by debutant Albert Hospodarsky, whose graduation film Brutal Heat, also his feature-length directorial debut, has taken its first bow..
KARLOVY VARY 2023 Awards :: Stephan Komandarev's Blaga's Lessons wins the Crystal Globe
Among the winners of the festival's 57th edition are also Behrooz Karamizade's German-Iranian co-production 'Empty Nets' and Ernst De Geer's Nordic title 'The Hypnosis'..
Iran: Toomaj Salehi’s life is in danger! • Rapper faces the death penalty
Toomaj Salehi’s life is in danger after he bravely chose to stand with his people. He did not leave the side of Iranian women when they were alone. Let’s not leave his side while he is in prison. This film is about the revolutionary..
SHEFFIELD DOC FEST 2023 :: Review :: 'While We Watched'
A turbulent newsroom drama that intimately chronicles the working days of a broadcast journalist as he navigates a spiraling world of truth and disinformation. As factual reporting is in freefall globally, ‘While We Watched’ is..
Italy • Il Cinema Ritrovato • Ehsan Khoshbakht • Co-director and curator
For the 37th year, Il Cinema Ritrovato, taking place this year from 24 June-2 July in Bologna, will showcase films from the entire history of cinema. With a focus on collective viewing, the festival will present 470 movies..
TRANSILVANIA 2023 Awards :: Iranian film 'Like a Fish on the Moon' scoops the Transilvania Trophy
The first Iranian film to win Transilvania’s official competition impressed the jury with its original idea, while European victors included Family Time, Between Revolutions and Day of the..
KARLOVY VARY 2023 :: Provocative Experimental Cinema
The 57th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (30 June - 8 July) has unveiled its full line-up, showcasing Cannes standouts and provocative experimental cinema, featuring 140 fiction and documentary..
Visions of Iran 2023 :: Iranian Film Festival Cologne :: 9. to 11.6.2023
For ten years, the Iranian Film Festival Cologne has been providing new and unusual insights into the isolated country. The 2023 edition is themed around “Woman, Life, Freedom” – at a time when protests by the Iranian people are being put..
Vienna Festival :: Defiant Iranian Actress Barred from Participating in Wiener Festwochen
Iran bars prominent actress Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, who voiced support for a wave of protests and unrest in the country last year, from traveling to Austria to participate in an art fest..
Cannes 2023 Competition :: Review :: Perfect Days
Wim Wenders’ fiction film at the festival is a delicate and slyly melancholic ode to the search for happiness.. Attentive to the world around him both in his free time and at work, Hirayama always notices its beauties, both unexpected..
Cannes 2023 Interview :: Ruben Östlund :: Cannes Competition jury president
After fulfilling his duties as Cannes Competition jury president, the 2022 Palme d’Or winner shared some thoughts on this once-in-a-lifetime experience..
Cannes Review :: Fallen Leaves :: A Charming, Bittersweet Romance
Few filmmakers warm the soul with such economy: Fallen Leaves is funny, heartbreaking, and only 82 minutes long. Two people living separate, lonesome lives meet and maybe fall in love––but there is beauty in that simplicity ..
Cannes 2023 Awards :: Four Daughters and The Mother of All Lies scoop Cannes’ Golden Eye
The jury applauds the courage and imagination of Kaouther Ben Hania and Asmae El Moudir, who boldly invent devices that renew the language of reality, exploring and confronting the chaos of the world..
‘Anatomy Of A Fall’ :: Wins Palme d’Or at 2023 Cannes Film Festival
French writer-director Justine Triet’s Anatomy Of A Fall has won the Palme d’Or at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. The Hitchcockian mystery thriller is about a woman, played by Sandra Hüller, accused of murder when her husband..
Cannes 2023 :: Killers of the Flower Moon :: Martin Scorsese’s Bitterest Crime Epic
Martin Scorsese triumphs yet again. A story about greed, corruption, and the mottled soul of a country that was born from the belief that it belonged to anyone callous enough to take it..
Cannes 2023 :: Perfect Days : interview with Wim Wenders
A deeply moving and poetic reflection on finding beauty in the everyday world around us. The idea was born in Tokyo and could not have been made anywhere else. I love it if a story and its setting belong together out of necessity..
Cannes 2023 :: Terrestrial Verses :: Life in totalitarian Iran in the satirical Terrestrial Verses
Daily life in Iran through nine stories. Terrestrial Verses portrays men, women, and children in apparently mundane situations in which the absurd comes to disrupt everything..
Cannes 2023 :: Godard par Godard :: In the Mind of a Trailblazer of Cinema
A Documentary Rich with Behind-the-Scenes Footage Captures How the Godard Persona Was as Fascinating as His Films. An hour-long movie looks at his life, through his work, in a way that any Godard fan will want to see..
Cannes 2023 :: Questioning the past with May December :: Todd Haynes
Todd Haynes' May December explores one of the great capacities of the human species: our categorical refusal to look ourselves in the face. Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple..
Cannes 2023 :: Bread and Roses :: Kabul as seen by Sahra Mani
In 2018, Sahra Mani‘s hard-hitting A Thousand Girls Like Me documented a young Afghan woman and incest victim in her quest for justice. In Bread and Roses, the Afghan director shines a light on how the women of Kabul are seeing..
Cannes 2023 :: Cate Blanchett shows solidarity with women of Iran
Actor Cate Blanchett made a statement at a Cannes Film Festival party by going barefoot to show her support for the women of Iran. The A-list actor, on hand to present “Holy Spider” star Zahra Amir Ebrahimi with a breakthrough..
Cannes 2023 :: Encounter with Atiq Rahimi :: Member of the Feature Films Jury
An interview with the member of the Feature Films Jury, who opens up about his creative process. Born into a “wealthy, peaceful, and bourgeois” Afghan family, Atiq Rahimi‘s life..
Cannes 2023 :: Competition :: About Dry Grasses :: Movie Review
Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s best feature since “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”—flutters with all these pictorial qualities and emotional dispositions. A ravishingly cinematic piece of work that seems designed to spark animated debate..
Cannes 2023 :: Competition :: Four Daughters (Les Filles d'Olfa)
Kaouther Ben Hania employs a unique approach In Competition. While working on one of her films, she became caught up in a story she was listening to on the radio. The mother of four adolescent girls was recounting the tragic..
Cannes 2023 :: Liv Ullmann :: A Road Less Travelled
Divided in three chapters, this documentary film explores the iconic actor, writer, director, author and activist Liv Ullmann’s multifaceted life, and her extraordinary international career spanning over 66 years..
Cannes 2023 :: Anselm :: an interview with Wim Wenders
Here we discuss 'Anselm' with the Prolific director Wim Wenders who has two films in the Selection this year: a fictional feature film in Competition, Perfect Days, and a documentary Anselm, dedicated to the work of German visual artist..
Cannes 2023 lowdown update :: The lowdown on all the Cannes 2023 titles
This year’s Official Selection is heavy on big-name auteurs including former double Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach as well as Wim Wenders, Nanni Moretti, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Nuri Bilge Ceylan. These past winners will compete..
“Champions” :: Led by Woody Harrelson’s reliably spiky energy
"Some critics are saying the film is patronizing and making a mockery of the disabled community, but that’s not the case. The cast brings out the best in each other and all are true champions..”
The Two Popes :: Superbly acted and a lot of fun to watch
Can two Catholic men share the Papacy without driving each other crazy? Led by outstanding performances from its well-matched leads, The Two Popes draws absorbing drama from a pivotal moment in modern organized religion..
“They Make Me Vomit” :: Richard Dreyfuss On New Rules For Oscars
“This is an art form. It’s also a form of commerce, and it makes money, but it’s an art. No one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give in to the latest, most current idea of what morality is..”
CANNES 2023 :: Cannes Classics Pays Homage to Godard, Ozu, Hitchcock, Ullmann, Varda, Douglas, Lee
In keeping with tradition, the 2023 edition of Cannes Classics promises to be a feast for cineastes with tributes to global masters and restored versions of all-time classics..
‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ Movie Hits Cannes Market :: Stars Zar Amir-Ebrahimi & Golshifteh Farahani
A long-anticipated adaptation of the 2003 bestselling novel “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi is hitting the Marché du Film at Cannes this month..
Asghar Farhadi Talks Uprising in Iran: ‘The Result Will Be Rewarding’
'The situation will not return to how it was before. And there is great hope in what happened. And I believe in this extraordinary uprising that occurred in Iran in the last few months..'
World War III :: Removal Of Director, Actor From Movie Billboard Over Protest Support
Iran's Ministry of Guidance is demanding the removal of the names of the director and one of the lead actors from a promotional billboard for a movie amid their public support for ongoing..
Death of a Filmmaker & The End of an Era in Iranian Cinema
Veteran filmmaker Kiumars Pourahmad (1949-2023) was one of the successful examples of Iranian ‘professional’ cinema, a storyteller who kept standing as far away from the ideological concerns of post-revolution Iran..
FIFDH GENEVA 2023 :: 'My Name Is Happy' :: Movie Review
Ayse Toprak and Nick Read's film tells the incredible story of Mutlu, a Kurdish teenager with a golden voice who miraculously survives an attempted murder. At age 19 Mutlu Kaya overcame the trauma of being shot..
OSCARS 2023 :: Navalny’s Plight in a Russian Prison Highlighted at Oscars
The fact that this documentary movie involves one of the most brazen incidents of state sponsored assassination in memory means this is a unique document of a very singular man. After almost being poisoned to death in 2020..
Oscars 2023 :: Final Predictions in 23 Categories
"Everything Everywhere All at Once" should dominate the winners list, but will it also win Best Picture? Fresh and original is the ticket for this year’s Oscars. That is if “Everything Everywhere” (A24) wins as many categories as we predict..
Berlinale 2023 :: Full Winners List
This year’s jury, headed by Kristen Stewart, gave the Golden Bear award to the French documentary “On the Adamant..” The Silver Bear for Best Lead Performance notably went to child star Sofia Otero for “20,000 Species of Bees.” Philippe Garrel's “The Plough” was..
Berlinale 2023 :: Niki Karimi :: "In Iran, I hope the arts and artists will experience a new era"
While at the Berlinale, the Iranian actress and director speaks, in an interview with "Le Monde", on the situation in her country, after five months of protests since the death of Mahsa..
BAFTA 2023 :: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ Dominates BAFTA Awards With Seven Wins
“All Quiet on the Western Front” dominated the BAFTA Awards in London on Sunday night with a record-breaking seven wins for a film not in the English languag, including for Best Director..
Berlinale :: Retrospective 2023 :: „Coming of Age at the Movies“
The 2023 Retrospective is dedicated to being young and growing up as a collective cinematic experience. Noted international filmmakers from around the world have selected their coming-of-age film favourites..
Berlinale 2023 :: Golshifteh Farahani :: Talks Role Of Art In Iran
“In A Dictatorship Like Iran, Art Is Essential, It’s Like Oxygen.” Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, who is at the Berlin Film Festival as a member of Kristen Stewart’s jury, has talked passionately about the importance of art..
BERLINALE 2023 • Carlo Chatrian • Artistic director
Cineuropa talks to the Berlinale’s artistic director about the “new beginning” for the gathering, the state of world cinema and iconoclastic programming at the outset of the 73rd edition. “Europe is the place where filmmakers can still..
SIFF 2023 :: Shirin Ebadi :: Until We Are Free
This is the amazing, at times harrowing, simply astonishing story of a woman who would never give up, no matter the risks. The first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi has inspired millions around the globe..
Iranian film director ('Botox' & 'Retouch') threw away his film awards
Kaveh Mazaheri, who previously won two crystal simorghes at Iranian Fajr Film festival, threw them into the river. He, who is also the winner of the first prize at Torino Film Festival, released a video in which he says he will no longer make..
IFFR 2023 Awards :: 'Le spectre de Boko Haram' and 'Endless Borders' are the victors
Cyrielle Raingou’s documentary took home the Tiger Award, whilst Abbas Amini’s feature won the VPRO Big Screen Award, as the Dutch gathering celebrated its in- person comeback..
Robert Prize 2023 :: Here are all the winners
On Saturday evening, the year's best film, TV series, acting performances and much more were awarded. Ali Abbasi's thriller 'Holy Spider' grabs 11 statuettes at the awards ceremony where it completely swept the board..
Berlinale 2023 :: The Berlinale announces its jury members
The Berlinale has announced the full line-up of the juries for its 2023 edition. Competition Jury chair Kristen Stewart will be joined by Golshifteh Farahani, Valeska Grisebach, Radu Jude, Francine Maisler, Carla Simón and Johnnie To..
Henrik Nordbrandt :: A Poet's Odyssey
Henrik Nordbrandt (1945 – 2023) is widely regarded as one of the most important and celebrated poets in Scandinavia. His life with poetry was shaped by the many years he lived in Mediterranean countries, where “departures and arrivals are very existential,”..
Berlinale 2023 :: Solidarity with Ukraine and Iran
Film festivals are places that strengthen freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and peaceful dialogue. With the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, and the courageous protests in Iran.. the Berlinale stands in 2023..
Iran's women through 60 years :: Film history, sociology & popular culture
"Woman - life - freedom". That slogan has been used in the Iranian streets since September, and the message is aimed at the incumbent Islamic regime. The Iran protests have historical threads that go further back in Iranian cultural history..
Oscar 2023 :: 'The Red Suitcase' Bags Oscar Nomination
A short film by Luxembourg-based Iranian film director Cyrus Neshvad has been nominated for "Best Live Action Short Film" at the 95th Academy Awards. "My thoughts are with the Iranian women who are currently fighting for their rights and their freedom..
95th Academy Awards :: 2 Oscar nominations for Danish films
Simon Lereng Wilmont's documentary film ‘A House Made of Splinters’ is nominated in the Documentary Feature Category and the short film ‘Ivalu’ by Anders Walter and Pipaluk K. Jørgensen is nominated in the category for Live..
Sundance 2023 :: Iranian women take center stage at Sundance film festival
Movies by and about Iranian women took center stage at the Sundance film festival this weekend, as diaspora filmmakers reflected on female-led protests and the deadly challenges of censorship and resistance in their ancestral..
BERLINALE 2023 :: Unveils Forum titles for 2023 edition :: (16-26 Feb.)
The German festival has announced new European titles by names such as Claire Simon, Vlad Petri, Mehran Tamadon, Tomasz Wolski and Piotr Pawlus. The 28 titles look set to “celebrate the diversity of cinematic forms, approaches..
10th Prague Iranian Film Fest :: Starts in shadow of events in Iran
The focus of the festival is going to be on the main theme of all the uprisings that are happening at the moment, which is Women, Life, Freedom. The festival is taking place in Prague from January 11th to 15th, launching..
Corruption on earth :: Iran shortfilm
A short film about the human rights- abusing regime in Iran. The film shows a fictional award ceremony for the “best regime in the world”. The prize is awarded to Iran. Several production companies were involved in making the film, directed by Omid Mirnour..
‘Argentina, 1985’ :: Venice Review
A complex, rewarding drama which should be favoured by the politically-aware. Ricardo Darin gives an awards-worthy performance in Santiago Mitre’s rousing real-life courtroom thriller. 30,000 people disappeared during the Junta’s seven-year rule..
Suicide After "Freedom" :: Iranian Film Critic Commits Suicide After Being Released From Detention
Iranian film critic and director, Mohsen Jafari-Rad, 37, who had been arrested during anti-government protests a few weeks ago, committed suicide after being released..
Taraneh Alidoosti, the star of Oscar-winning film released on bail
The 38-year-old Iranian actor and the star of Oscar-winning film The Salesman, who was imprisoned almost three weeks ago, has been released on bail on Wednesday, said the actor's lawyer to the Iranian news agency Isna. ..
UPDATE(5) :: Defiance in Iran :: "Iran Protests Pass 100 Days"
Anti-government protests in Iran have passed their 100th day, even as demonstrators have been met with widespread arrests, brutal violence by police and executions. Thousands of protesters have been arrested and more than..
Celebrities In Iran Also Pay A Price For Supporting Protests
Ashkan Khatibi is one of scores of celebrities who have been detained for sympathizing with protesters or criticism of the government. Around fifty filmmakers and actors of Iranian cinema are currently in detention..
Robert De Niro & Jane Rosenthal Join Chorus Of Calls For Release Of Iranian Actress Taraneh Alidoosti
In a Tribeca statement signed by De Niro and his Tribeca Festival Co-Founder Jane Rosenthal, the pair demanded Taraneh's immediate release from the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran...
Iranian actor Taraneh Alidoosti arrested after criticism of death penalty
Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran’s most famous actors, has been detained by security forces in Tehran days after she criticised the state’s use of the death penalty against protesters..
'752 Is Not A Number' :: A Harrowing Look at One Man’s Search for Justice
Veteran director Babak Payami chronicles Canadian dentist Hamed Esmaeilion’s quest for justice in the aftermath of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, shot down in 2020 by the Iranian military..
'The Voice of Dust and Ash' :: Singing Truth to Power
The untold story of monumental artist and humanitarian Maestro Mohammad Reza Shajarian, hailed by NPR as "one of the 50 greatest voices of all time" and by the Wall Street Journal as "the most important Iranian.."
UPDATE(4) :: Defiance in Iran :: "Nationwide Revolution"
Despite Crackdown, Anti-Government Protests May Grow into "Nationwide Revolution". The situation in Iran is "critical" as authorities tighten their crackdown on the continuing anti-government protests after the death of Mahsa..
Free Toomaj Salehi :: Iranian protest rapper Toomaj's life is in Danger!
The rapper Toomaj Salehi is an activist for human rights who protests with his music against the brutality of the Islamic Republic. He was arrested by the security forces on 30.10.2022. Please join us to sign the petition..
Crackdown on celebrities :: Iran arrests actors for removing headscarves
Iran has arrested two prominent actors who expressed solidarity with the country’s protest movement and removed their headscarves in public, according to state media..
'See You Friday Robinson' :: New Wavers who upset the language of cinema :: Berlinale 2022 Encounters
Ebrahim Golestan and Jean-Luc Godard, New Wavers Iranian and French, embark on an email round-robin conversation in this amusing documentary from Godard collaborator Mitra..
A Viennale retrospective :: Earthly Songs :: Ebrahim Golestan on his 100th Birthday
This retrospective takes place in Vienna, as part of the Viennale. The screenings, programmed into four sessions, are scheduled for October 21-23, 2022. All four events shall be introduced..
Iranian Filmmaker Mani Haghighi Has Passport Confiscated
Mani Haghighi had his passport confiscated at the airport as he was about to board a flight to attend the BFI London Film Festival. Haghighi was expected to present there the U.K. premiere of his latest film, “Subtraction.” ..
'This Time It's Different' :: Iran Actress Golshifteh Farahani Lauds Protests
Exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani said Tuesday that she was filled with admiration for the protesters in Iran: "beautiful, feminine, hair in the wind, asking simply for freedom." Farahani has lived in exile in France for more than..
'Holy Spider' cast protests in solidarity with Iranian women on London Film Festival red carpet
The cast of 'persian noir' film 'Holy Spider' protested in support of women's rights in Iran at the London Film Festival on Saturday (October 8) ahead of its UK premiere..
UPDATE(3) :: "They Want a Democracy": Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi on Protests
"Today's movement is not calling for reform. Today's movement is calling for a new vision of politics … with women at the helm of it," says Narges Bajoghli, professor of anthropology..
“To Every Filmmaker in the World”
“Every filmmaker in the world” is called to support anti-government protests in Iran by famous Iranian cinema creators and actors speaking up after the violent repression of protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old woman Masha Amini while in police custody..
'Holy Spider' :: Selected as Denmark's Oscar candidate
OSCAR 2023. Ali Abbasi and Profile Pictures' 'Holy Spider' is selected as Denmark's submission in the International Feature Film category. 'Holy Spider' shows a director with a strong artistic ambition who..
Winners of the 2022 ‘Sepanta Awards’ :: 15th Annual Iranian Film Festival
This year, the festival presented 50 films from Iran, USA, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Greece, UK, Canada, Australia, and Denmark…, ranging from fiction, documentary, short, animation…. to the music video..
Tickets On Sale Now!
Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
September 17-18, 2022

Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran, launched in 2008, this year presents 50 films from 10 countries and is available Virtually..
Opinion :: Will Venice Protests Help or Hurt filmmakers in Iran?
As the Venice Film Festival celebrates Iranian cinema — with four Iranian films screening at the 79th Biennale — back home in Tehran, Iranian filmmakers and artists are facing the harshest crackdown in decades..
VENICE 2022 crowns Laura Poitras, Alice Diop, Luca Guadagnino and Jafar Panahi its victors
VENICE 2022: The Golden Lion goes to US movie All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the Grand Jury Prize to Saint-Omer, Best Direction to Bones and All and the Special Prize to No Bears..
Biennale Cinema 2022 :: Awards Ceremony
Official Awards of the 79th Venice Film Festival. Announced by the five international Juries, chaired by Julianne Moore, during the Awards Ceremony that was held on Saturday 10th September at 7:00 pm..
The Kiev Trial :: VENICE 2022
Ukrainian documentary Filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa presents a haunting glimpse of a post-war Nazi trial. A year after his moving documentary Babi Yar. Context, Loznitsa revisits some of the footage he unearthed and expands it into the equally daunting The Kiev Trial..
'Nezouh' (äÒæÍ) :: VENICE 2022
"The bombs can’t touch the stars"

"Nezouh in Arabic is the displacement of souls, water and people; it is the displacement of light and darkness. Nezouh tries to talk about this inevitable invasion of light and hope in the midst of this chaos”..
Venice 2022 :: Festival Reads Statement From Imprisoned Iranian Director
Jafar Panahi, imprisoned Iranian filmmaker, whose new film 'No Bears' is screening in competition in Venice, has sent a message of defiance to the Tehran regime...
Filmmakers under Attack :: Taking Stock, Taking Action. Two initiatives at the 79th Venice Film Festival
La Biennale di Venezia announces two initiatives to demonstrate solidarity with the directors, filmmakers and artists who have been arrested or imprisoned around the world this past year..
Venice 2022 :: 'Call of God' :: Mastering the Science of Love
The last film of the late- director Kim Ki-duk has been officially invited to the 79th Venice Film Festival. At the time of his death, the director KIM Ki-duk was at work on what would be his final feature, a project titled 'Call of God'..
Coming: 15th Annual Iranian Film Festival! : San Francisco: Sep. 17-18
This year, the festival presents 50 films from Iran, USA, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Greece, UK, Canada, Australia, and Denmark…, ranging from fiction, documentary, short, animation…. to the music video. We are happy and proud to..
Venice 2022 :: 'Without her' :: Orizzonti Extra
The story of someone actually losing her identity may seem surreal at first glance, but coming from a background where you’re blamed for who you are, it’s as realistic as it can get. If you stand for your beliefs, you soon find out that..
'Bamse' :: A Lucky Man
A tribute to the popular Danish musician, who has provided us with classics like “Vimmer Street”, “Why Does Louise Go Dancing” and “In A Boat That’s Itty-Bitty”. Behind the warm smile and the overalls is a powerful and moving story about a man’s lifelong pursuit of recognition and love..
Close-Up on Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 'The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood'
An Iranian film as remarkable as the history of its production—edited by the government, banned, stolen, and rediscovered. The regime had tried to erase 'The Nights..' from collective memory—instead, it elevated it to a near-cult status..
Venice 2022 :: 'Beyond The Wall'
'Beyond the Wall' will have its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival in September 2022. The Iranian Cinema Organization has announced that 'Beyond The Wall's participation in the Venice Film Festival is not coordinated with this organization..
Danish docs and series headed for 79th Venice International Film Festival
Jørgen Leth and Andreas Koefoed's 'Music for Black Pigeons', Guy Davidi's 'Innocence', Lars von Trier's 'The Kingdom Exodus' and Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Copenhagen Cowboy' will take part in..
79th Venice International Film Festival :: Lineup :: 31 Aug. - 10 Sep.
New films by Luca Guadagnino, Laura Poitras, Todd Field, Olivia Wilde, Martin McDonagh, and Rebecca Zlatowski are heading to Venice, where Julianne Moore heads the competition jury..
Putin: A Russian Spy Story :: TV Series (2020)
An exploration of how Vladimir Putin deployed his knowledge of spy-craft as a politician, and how modern Russia evolved through an acute sense of betrayal, pride and anger..
Panah Panahi on 'Hit the Road'
‘I don’t feel like a film-maker in my own country.. Even my actors haven’t seen the film yet’. Panah Panahi's joyous debut has been feted internationally but can’t be shown in his homeland — and now his auteur father Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to prison..
‘SABA’ :: Screened at Aesthetica and Grand OFF :: An Iranian short film
A socially committed short film that manages to touch on two controversial issues in modern Iran: the difficulty of being woman and the burning issue of gender equality..
Exilic trilogy :: A poetic, mystical and musical trilogy
The story of a well known musician, a famous painter and a legendary poet are included in Exilic Trilogy in three chapters. This arthouse independent docudrama film is shot in Toronto by Arsalan Baraheni, an exiled Iranian...
‘Be My Voice’ :: Swedish documentary from 2021
Journalist and activist Masih Alinejad is the voice of millions of Iranian women rebelling against the forced hijab on social media. She is an advocate for women's rights, and from her exile in the United States..
Land of Dreams :: Venice 2021 Review
Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari fearlessly illuminate the eerie similarities between the Islamic regime and contemporary America – the increased presence of the surveillance state, the shared exploitation of religion and power..
Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Arrested as Conservative Iran Cracks Down on Dissidents
Panahi was reportedly arrested after protesting the detention of fellow Iranian filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad..
Iranian drama ‘Summer With Hope’ wins top Karlovy Vary prize
Sadaf Foroughi’s Canadian- Iranian drama Summer With Hope has won the Crystal Globe for best film at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF), which held its closing awards ceremony on Friday July 9..
Iran Arrests Golden Bear Winning Director Mohammad Rasoulof
Mohammad Rasoulof arrested in ‘Brutal’ Raid Over Social Media Posts. His producing partners say he and colleague Mostafa Al-Ahmad have been "transferred to an unknown location." Since moving back to Iran in 2017, Rasoulof has..
‘Ghosts of Afghanistan’ :: It's only your own perspective that counts
“It's only your perspective that counts. Everyone celebrates their goals as just and noble. That is the real crime of this war. That the West questions its role, as it happens in this film, is a rare view”..
Call For Film Submissions Open
The 15th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco, a showcase for the independent feature and short films made by or about Iranians from around the world, is inviting filmmakers from all over the world to submit their films..
Atabai :: Movie Review
A sharp and fascinating exploration of male vulnerability
Filmmaker Niki Karimi creates vivid characters and connections, adding imaginative touches and a nicely understated sense of humour. An unforgettable portrait of a man whose..
DOCAVIV 2022 :: Tantura :: Review
Alon Schwarz's documentary explores the massacre committed by Israeli forces in the titular Arab village in 1948, shedding light on a taboo topic shrouded in a culture of silence. In the late 1990s, graduate student Teddy Katz conducted an academic research on a..
‘Nostalgia’ :: Mario Martone’s Neapolitan Thriller
“Our past is a labyrinth.. But there are these little voices that still call you from time to time. You try to re-enter this labyrinth. But this attempt at understanding who you are and where it all started can be dangerous..”
Cannes 2022 :: Palme d'Or-winning director Ruben Östlund on his satire of the super-rich
FRANCE 24 speaks to a director who won his second Palme d'Or for “Triangle of Sadness,” a biting satire of the rich and (Insta-)famous, bringing the 2022 Cannes Film Festival to..
Cannes 2022 :: Iranian Zar Ebrahimi Wins Cannes Best Actress Prize
Iranian actress Zar Amir-Ebrahimi receives the Best Actress award for her role in the film Holy Spider on May 28. "I have come a long way to be on this stage tonight," she told the audience at the final award ceremonies in Cannes..
Cannes 2022 :: ‘Leila’s Brothers’ Wins Fipresci Prize
Just hours before Cannes Palme d’Or prize announcement, the Iranian movie “Leila’s Brothers” won the Fipresci prize for best film in Cannes main competition “for the director’s ability to craft an engaging story, very dense.."
Cannes 2022 :: ‘Imagine’ :: Critics’ Week :: Leila Hatami
This light drama screens as part of Critics’ Week at Cannes, featuring A Separation’s Leila Hatami as the woman who bonds with her taxi driver in night rides around Tehran in Ali Behrad’s atmospheric yet ephemeral meditation on love..
Cannes 2022 :: ‘Leila’s Brothers’ :: Film Review
A great movie both in scope and in what it’s trying to say about Iran through the story of one family’s countless hardships. As a filmmaker, Roustaee aims so high and wide that even if he misses his mark at times, he manages to find..
Cannes 2022 :: Danish films in Cannes Film Festival
Three Danish films are part of the Official Selection and Danish film professionals are on board international co-productions at the 2022 Cannes Festival. Read on for more about the films and where to meet the Danish Film..
‘Holy Spider’ :: Ali Abbasi :: Interview
Ali Abbasi knows no bounds

A Danish pregnancy horror flick, a Swedish troll romance and a Farsi-language serial killer thriller. Ali Abbasi sees no reason to limit himself to one culture, one language or one genre. He is now back in Cannes with 'Holy Spider'..
HOT DOCS 2022 :: 'The Killing of a Journalist'
This investigative documentary explores how the entanglement of organised crime with a corrupt government, legal system and law enforcement can practically define life in a nominally democratic European country..
‘Family Diary | Cronaca familiare’ :: The Cinema Of Valerio Zurlini
An overwhelming drama, magnificently photographed, sadly neglected. Watching it in the Walter Reade in New York, I had the feeling that the screen was expanding to include the entire world..
Tiburon 2022 :: Call For Entries Open For 21st Annual Tiburon International Film Festival
Tiburon, CA: The 21st Annual Tiburon International Film Festival (TIFF) will be held in November 2022, a showcase for independent feature and short films from around the world..
‘The Coming War on China’ :: The new War-Game scenario in the Pacific
John Pilger’s 60th film for ITV. Pilger reveals what the news doesn’t – that the United States and the world’s second economic power, China (both nuclear armed) are on the road to war..
Cannes 2022 :: Two Persian language films in the main section
This year, 18 films will participate in the main section (competition) of Cannes Film Festival, including two Persian- language films, 'Holy Spider' by Ali Abbasi after his Cannes-winning Swedish 'Border', and 'Leila's Brothers' by..
‘Threads’ :: Revisiting one of the most terrifying films ever made
An urgent warning against nuclear conflict, Threads is a chilling hypothetical that achieves visceral horror with its matter-of-fact presentation of an apocalypse. Many films purport to be difficult to sit through, but..
Departures :: Okuribito :: おくりびと :: Fascinating, witty and heartfelt
All three actors are skilled in communicating difficult emotions just with their faces and in bringing to life the gentle humor that leavens this very affecting movie about death and letting go..
‘CODA’ :: Child of Deaf Adults
Uniquely beautiful to watch

No theatrics, no gimmicks - just a wonderful coming-of-age gem that aims directly at the heart and hits the bullseye. It’s the type of feel-good movie that leaves you both uplifted and exhausted..
This is the way the world ends.. Not with a bang but a whimper. These lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on..
Akira Kurosawa's “Dreams”
A remarkable achievement

Rarely in cinema has the raw personal and symbolic power of dreaming been so effectively captured as in Akira Kurosawa's 1990 feature ... Kurosawa's late film beautifully evokes the short and often baffling nature of dreaming..
The Story of UNCLE VANYA
Released in 1970, this film both recalls the past and situates Chekhov as a visionary who was ahead of his time. It is a dazzling and compassionate take on one of the most beloved plays in the Russian repertoire..
‘Meeting Gorbachev’ :: “We tried”
The fascinating story of a pivotal political figure. Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, sits down with filmmaker Werner Herzog to discuss his many achievements. Topics include the talks to reduce nuclear weapons, the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of..
‘Be My Voice’ :: Swedish documentary from 2021
The inspiring story of Irani-exiled Masih Alinejad, her fight against the Iranian regime's hijab laws and her viral movement My Stealthy Freedom. Masih Alinejad is an Iranian journalist and activist. She is an advocate for women's..
‘Ballad of a White Cow’ :: Bad Samaritan :: Movie Review
With subtlety and steadily accruing power, Ballad of a White Cow depicts how painfully a justice system can fail -- and how that failure can haunt the lives of those affected..
‘Queenpins’ :: Movie Reviews
A high-concept hook combined with a top-notch ensemble, ‘Queenpins’ tells a charming, funny story. Thanks to the chemistry of the leads, some clever dialogue and a willingness to embrace the silly, it all clicks. It’s good. Good enough, in fact, that you won't even mind..
‘The Laureate’ :: Movie Review
Well-acted, nicely crafted and a handsome period piece within modest means, William Nunez’s biopic details an adventurous period in the life of 'I, Claudius' writer Robert Graves. Viewers looking for a slightly racier variation..
'The Power of the Dog' :: Movie Review
While Jane Campion's 'The Piano' remains a haunting exploration of female desire, 'The Power of the Dog' is a long-delayed contemplation on masculinity from the female eye, both about repression and control..
'Tommaso' :: Movie Review
The traits that define Ferrara's best work are present and precise here. One of the director’s latest work built on quiet moments of spiritual and professional reflection, a Fellini-esque inward gaze at the artist and his art..
‘The Last Days of ...’ :: Movie Review
A character study of two people — a rich “artist” and a prostitute — who spend a weekend together in his posh hotel suite overlooking the Vegas Strip. Even those uninclined to work out all of the script's hidden meanings will find reasons to enjoy this trim indie drama..
Speak No Evil :: Ready for Sundance
After working on his 2017 feature A Horrible Woman, Christian Tafdrup is ready to world-premiere his new effort, a psychological horror entitled Speak No Evil, in the Midnight Series strand of the Sundance Film Festival (20-30 January 2022)..
‘Don’t Look Up’ :: Movie Review
Adam McKay’s cosmic end-times satire “Don’t Look Up” quickly became the most-viewed original movie on Netflix over the holiday weekend. He says the ending of the Netflix hit came together in real-time thanks to Meryl Streep's improv skills..
The Unforgivable :: A Miserable Life
If you are looking for Christmas movies, The Unforgivable will not be on your list. However, if you are a Sandra Bullock fan, this grim drama is a must-see offering. Sandra Bullock turns in a splendid performance as Ruth Slater..
‘The United States vs Billie Holiday’ :: Movie Review
“She Won’t Stop Singing the Song.” In the 1940s the FBI targets Billie Holiday, claiming her song ‘Strange Fruit’, about a lynching, to be un-American and therefore she is also being un-American..
Flee, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Great Freedom triumph at the 34th European Film Awards. Jasmila Zbanic's film wins three statuettes including European Film, while Flee and The Father receive two each. The Ceremony was presented by German actress, Annabelle Mandeng..
‘Lingui, the Sacred Bonds’ :: Review
Lingui can only exist in the face of great hardship, and Haroun's surprisingly cathartic film honors the tradition by celebrating the fact that it still does. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year..
Blue Bayou :: Movie review
The center of this story is the family unit of Kathy, Jessie, and Antonio, anguished at the breakup of their happy home, overwhelmed and intimidated by the looming bureaucracy of the United States government. who doesn't care that Antonio has a baby on the way, that Antonio..
‘The Gravedigger’s Wife’ :: Somalia’s first-ever Oscar submission 2022
Charming and wistful without ever feeling maudlin, The Gravedigger's Wife is a beautiful love letter to the power of love and family. It is a striking first from a filmmaker and cast..
Slavoj Zizek’s modern adaptation of Antigone brings the ancient tragedy up to date, with politicians and decision-makers in all roles. Antigone is used to explain democracy, the women's movement and moral philosophy - by both opponents and supporters of totalitarian..
Timbuktu :: The Nightmarish Perversion of "Justice"
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Interview with Mahmoud Kalari
Godfrey Cheshire's Interview with
Mahmoud Kalari

By Godfrey Cheshire,  Film Comment
on September 12, 2018

The following interview was conducted mainly in Farsi and translated by Tania Ahmadi.

When Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation became the first Iranian film to win the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film of 2012, it gave the world a look at the work not only of one of Iran’s most acclaimed writer-directors but also of an Iranian cinematographer whose skills have contributed to dozens of important films of Iran’s post-Revolutionary cinema.

Born in 1951, Mahmoud Kalari started in the 1970s studying photography, and later became a renowned news photographer whose images of Ayatollah Khomeini and other figures of Iran’s Revolutionary era appeared in magazines around the world.

After turning to cinematography during the mid-’80s revival of Iranian cinema, he collaborated with many of Iran’s leading auteurs, including Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Dariush Mehrjui, Jafar Panahi, and Farhadi.

He is also known for encouraging and working with younger directors such as Mani Haghighi (Pig) and Shahram Mokri (Fish & Cat, 2013). In addition to acting in a Mehrjui film, he wrote and directed 1997’s The Cloud and the Rising Sun. His cinematography has won numerous awards at festivals around the world.

A Separation

From September 14 to 30, the Museum of Modern Art saluted his work with “The Eye of Iran: Cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari,” a 12-film retrospective. The following interview was conducted mainly in Farsi and translated by Tania Ahmadi.

Where in Iran did you grow up, and what was your family like?

I was born in Tehran in a very old house in which my father was also born. I was surrounded by a very traditional and religious family. During my childhood, no one I knew had a camera, so I had never seen any sort of camera or other art medium in my house. We led a very simple life. My father sold tea at the bazaar. We lived in that same house until I was seven years old, and then we moved into another house in Tehran. The good thing about the new house was that there was a great movie theater next to it. It was located on Rey Street and called Cinema Ramsar. This cinema was later demolished. At the age of 15, I got my first photography camera. As I told you earlier, I have no clue how I became interested in photography. Perhaps it was during that very first encounter with the camera, when I went to the photography studio with my uncle. After I got the camera, I spent all my time taking photos. There was no specific subject or theme in the photos I was taking. However, when I later looked through all the photos, I realized that there actually was a theme I had not noticed. People who were alone captured my interest the most. Later, I had my first photo exhibition under the title, “The Story of a Man in Solitude.”


During that period, cinema became more important to me as well. I started to read reviews and articles about cinema. Some film critics, such as Jamsheed Akrami and Parviz Davaie, whom I now know very well, shaped my understanding of cinema. I really liked cinema, but I never thought of becoming a cinematographer. When I was 20 years old, I participated in an experimental cinema institution, where they made 8mm films. I made two 8mm films and, surprisingly, I did not shoot any of them myself. It was Ahmad Amini, a good friend of mine who is now a film director, who shot my films.

How did you begin your career as a photographer?

I started getting into photography when I was 15 or 16 years old. I loved it so much and I printed all the photos myself. There was this small room in our house that I changed into a darkroom where I could print. The process of printing those photos in that light seemed like magic to me. When I was 20 years old, our neighbor Kambiz Derambakhsh introduced me to Kaveh Golestan. At that time, Golestan was the head of the photography section of a newspaper. When he saw my photos, he edited them and selected a few. Then, he explained why those selected photos were more interesting than the rest. Just like that, he introduced me to the meaning of “concept” and “thought” in the art of photography. Two years before the Revolution of 1979, Golestan had a photo exhibition at Tehran’s university. He arranged an exhibition for me right after his own, and there I made my first significant mark on the world of photography. Of course, after that I started to think about my themes and subjects more deeply. I knew that I had to say something with my pictures. I was introduced to the concept of photo-essay and I started to work in that field. The aesthetics of visual creativity became the core of my concerns and later of my works. I started to closely study the portfolio of famous photographers around the world, including the works of Golestan. The subject of revolution played a great role in my career. I took many photos in the midst of the Revolution, and at that time I started to work for a photography agency. As a photojournalist, I worked for Sigma Agency for four years. My photos were published in many magazines around the world.

What led you to transition from a still photographer to a film cinematographer?

I entered into the world of cinematography in 1984. Masoud Jafari-Jozani was well educated in cinema, and he had just travelled from the U.S. to Iran. I had my fourth photo exhibition and he came to see my works. At that time, he was making a short film called Talk to Me [1984] for the Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Adolescents. Touraj Mansouri was shooting that film and he asked me to come to the set to take pictures. I did the photography for the film and that was how we got to know each other. When Jozani decided to make Frosty Roads[1985], he invited me to collaborate as a cinematographer. I was a bit hesitant, as I had never shot any films before, but Jozani convinced me that I would be able to shoot the film with a 35-milimeter camera. The shooting took place in the winter and we were shooting in the snow. That was actually one of the most difficult projects I have worked on in my entire life. I also took the camera home for one week and carefully studied everything about it. And so, I started to learn the techniques of cinematography while I was shooting my first film. It was a unique beginning for me, as I did not begin my career in cinematography as an assistant, but as the main cinematographer. The film was screened at the 4th Fajr Film Festival and I won the prize for the best cinematographer. This was how I became a cinematographer. [Laughs] Then well-known directors such as Mehrjui and [Masoud] Kimiai started to call me, inviting me to collaborate on their films. That was a fantastic beginning!

I have seen the film, and it is beautifully shot. Did you have any difficulties while shooting Frosty Roads?

Oh yes. That was a difficult film to shoot. We had to shoot in the snow with limited equipment. You know, when you shoot in the snow it is hard to get all the shots right. The quality of the shots worsened and often became blurry, so you couldn’t even get a good shot of a face. We tried to find something in Tehran to avoid those problems. We were lent some cameras that an American had brought to Iran to film something. Those big cameras had adequate equipment for shooting our scenes in the snow.

The first auteur film director you worked with was Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and you made four films with him. How did you end up working with him? Also, Makhmalbaf did not have a very good reputation within the film industry early in his career. So what was your opinion about his reputation at that time?

Makhmalbaf had two important periods in his early career. In the first period, he made films that were not significant. In the second period, he made The Cyclist [1989] and The Marriage of the Blessed [1989], which became huge hits in Iranian cinema. They had specific visual structures. He was a really interesting director in my opinion. He changed a lot in the time between his first and second phases. He wrote a short novel called Time to Love (or Time of Love) [1990], and he wanted to make it into a film. It was a strange story and somehow it showed that his way of thinking was changing. We made that film in Turkey because it was impossible to shoot in Iran. It was eventually banned in Iran forever. At that time, it was easy to make films in Turkey. The cast was Turkish and the crew was Iranian. We shot the film in 17 days. They never screened that film in Iran. I liked and enjoyed the way he changed both as a person and as a filmmaker over the course of the years, and that was the reason I wanted to work with him. I realized that he was completely aware of what he was doing, and that also helped me in my decision to continue collaborating with him.

Gabbeh [1996] is a beautiful and unusual film that you had to go to the remote central highlands of Iran to shoot. It was supposed to be a film about nomadic people who were making gabbehs (primitive carpets), but then it ended up being something else. Please tell me about the shooting of that film.

Let me tell you the story. Yes, Gabbeh was supposed to be a documentary. When we went to the Cannes Film Festival with Salaam Cinema [1995] and Time to Love, we had just finished shooting Gabbeh. We just needed to edit the film. When we presented those two films at Cannes, Makhmalbaf realized that, although he wanted to send Gabbeh to Cannes the following year, he could not do so, because Cannes did not accept documentaries. Therefore, he decided to change that documentary into a fiction film. On our way back to Iran, on the airplane, he started to craft the story on a napkin. In Tehran, he told us that he had come up with the story and that he could change the documentary into a fiction film.

It was like a journey. Makhmalbaf had just met a man named Abbas Sayahi, who then became the lead actor of the film. His main occupation was coloring carpet threads using plant dyes. He extracted colors from plants and, with those organic colors, he colored the threads used to make carpets. Gabbeh’s main plot was based on how he carried out this process of coloring the threads. Thus, the main themes of the film were plants, colors, threads, and, of course, carpets. For me, color was the most important. We only had two cars, limited equipment, and a very small crew. Today, if we want to make a film in which color plays a dominant role, we can easily achieve our vision in the post-production process. We can easily add color to any film using digital technology. But at that time we did not have that technology, so I had to color the negatives by hand myself. For instance, for long shots, or landscape shots, I added green gel color, and for the sky I added blue gel color to enhance the shot. I colored all of them in front of the camera lens. In cinema’s early days, they used to do the tinting on glass shots. I did the exact same thing, but with filters. It took us near forty days to finish filming.

Let me tell you another story about the people on set. We were shooting a scene in the film near a small lake. At one point, we saw the moon’s reflection in the lake and we really liked the effect it gave. We were not ready to shoot, so we decided to go back a month later to capture that moment again. We needed our camera to be positioned higher than ground level, so we managed to make it three meters high, and with a ladder and tripod it went even higher. Eventually the camera was five meters above the ground. I arranged the frame, and we were just waiting for the moon to reach the perfect point in the sky. There was also a pregnant woman who was supposed to pass by in the shot. I was busy managing the light with my light meter. Makhmalbaf announced that we could shoot, and then we heard him say, “Sound, camera, go.” Suddenly, a man came onto the scene completely out of the blue, holding the pregnant woman’s hands and dragging her forcefully off the scene. We were shocked. Mohsen was shouting, “Stop him! Stop him!” but there was no one down there to stop him. Mohsen jumped off the ladder behind the five-meter high camera and ran after him. I was sure he had broken his leg, but he did not even realized how badly he jumped. I was shouting that I had captured the moment and that there was no need to run after the man, but Makhmalbaf paid me no attention. Later, we found out that the man was the woman’s husband and that he did not want her to be in our film. Makhmalbaf then became very sad. He wanted to go to their house to apologize. He asked us what the point of filmmaking was when we had just made someone upset. We all thought he was overthinking it, but he did not let it go. He was crying, begging us to take him to the man’s house. I was thinking how strange Mohsen was. He had jumped from that great height to stop the man and now he wanted to see him to say how regretful he was. You know, he had very unique characteristics. [Laughs]

Before you shot Gabbeh, you and Makhmalbaf set out to make another drama. But first came Salaam Cinema, a totally impromptu film that resulted when he published an ad for a casting and thousands of people came. Did that really happen?


Were you surprised as well?

Very much so. At that time, we did not really know what to do. We just looked at each other in amazement. Makhmalbaf could not believe it. Four to five thousand people came for the audition that morning, at around 8:30 a.m.

The Fish Fall in Love

Can you tell me how that casting evolved into a feature?

It was one of the most unique experiences of my entire life, and I have had many throughout my career. We intended to make the film that we made afterwards, A Moment of Innocence [1996], but before shooting it, we decided to call for an audition for the first scene of the film, meaning that we would use that audition as the first scene of the film. So we really did not intend to make Salaam Cinema. When we saw the huge crowed at the audition, we were very surprised, and then we started to film the crowd. It was such a chaotic situation and we tried so hard to organize it well, but some people attacked the door in order to get inside and they actually broke it. This event is also in the film. We did not expect such a thing. Another issue was time. We really did not want to spend that much time on the audition, but that very day we could not do anything else but test those who had come out to audition. Later, Makhmalbaf decided to spend a few more days on the audition and to film the attendees, because no one would leave unless they auditioned. After a few days, Makhmalbaf thought that this footage could become its own documentary. We actually had to rent another camera because we wanted to film these people as quickly as possible. At that time we used 400-foot reels, as there was no 1000-foot film in Iran, so we had to change the reel every four minutes. When my assistant changed the reel I went to film with the other camera. On day six, two girls came for the audition. They were both very good, so they had to compete against one another. Then, something came to Makhmalbaf’s mind. He decided that one of the girls would test the other. So he brought one of the girls behind the camera and let the audition continue. He then realized how differently people behaved when their positions changed. At that time, Makhmalbaf asserted that we had our story and that this audition could be used in the film!

Eventually I realized that Makhmalbaf had bothered and assaulted people on-set. It was hard for me to witness this behavior, so I took several breaks to go out and smoke. Mohsen noticed this and came after me. Outside, he told me how unhappy he was and how stressed out he was about his own behavior toward people, but he said it was all for the sake of the film. Makhmalbaf wanted to expose the harsh and unpleasant nature of cinema. He wanted to show how far people would go when they were exceedingly fond of something. In many cases, despite the fact that people were humiliated, they embraced his contempt. Mohsen softened my uneasiness with his words. This is how Salaam Cinema came into being. It was a film that was made during the audition process and its details were added piece by piece. Its ideas came to us while we were shooting the film.

So how long did it take to shoot the entire film?

Seven to eight days!

You talked about the power relationship, and it seems that this is what the film is about, with Makhmalbaf playing the film director as tyrant. Did he actually say, “I am not being myself, I am playing a character”?

Yes, as I have said, that was all a show for our film. He is such a sensitive person. And when I became upset about his behavior, he came to me and explained everything, that he was just acting. Let me tell you something interesting. Once a girl who was wearing chador came to the audition. Makhmalbaf asked what she would do if she was offered the role of a girl who was not supposed to wear chador. She panicked. She hesitated because she was married to a man who happened to be religious, and he liked that she was wearing a chador. So she said, “I do not know.” Then Mohsen told her that she was not obliged to answer straightaway, and she was given some time to think. Mohsen moved on to the others at the audition, but I did not move the camera. I recorded the girl while she was thinking. It was such a precious moment. I could not make myself cut, and I followed her with my camera. Then she came back to the set. Makhmalbaf asked her if she was ready to answer and she said, “If my husband does not let me play the role, I will leave him.” Mohsen was so shocked. So he came to me, asking if I had heard her response, and I told him that I had recorded everything from the beginning. He was very happy and excited about it. He could not believe it. [Laughs] There I relied on my background in photography. The relationship between my feelings and the object, the sensation I felt when something was going to happen in that shot. When I was following her, I was thinking about the concept of photo-essay.

In Gabbeh, color is the main character. In Moment of Innocence, light is a main character. How did you and Mohsen come up with this idea?

In Gabbeh, Mohsen was working with Abbas Sayahi very closely. Sayahi’s profession was making colors for carpets. Mohsen wanted to make a film based on colors. Thus, time was very important for us. That is, we had to think about when to film those colors in order to capture the essence of real colors, like those in the sunset and sunrise. For Moment of Innocence, the atmosphere and architecture of the set was important to him. Because of this he tried very hard to find a place like the bazaar that you see in the film. That bazaar was not in Tehran. It was in Naeen, a very small town near Isfahan. It was an old bazaar that they kept open for tourists, so the bazaar at that time had no shops or any other businesses. The architecture of that bazaar was very important to Makhmalbaf. So the difference between these two films is that one of them was based on color and light, whereas the other was based on architecture. After the Revolution, no one touched the architecture of that bazaar. Some parts of it, such as the main doors, were renovated, but the bazaar was and still is very beautiful and popular with tourists. When we were shooting the film, all the stores were closed. There was a sense of silence and peace that Makhmalbaf loved so much, because his intention was to only showcase characters. He wanted to shoot the film in a quiet place so that the center of attention would remain on these three characters only: the woman and two men.

Dariush Mehrjui’s The Cow [1969] launched the Iranian New Wave of the 1970s, then he returned to prominence after the Revolution. You worked on three films with him, all significant because of their actors’ performances. Leila Hatami in Leila [1997], Niki Karimi in Sara [1993], and Golshifteh Farahani in The Pear Tree [1998] all began their acting careers with Mehrjui. Can you tell me about working with Mehrjui and actresses, particularly when you worked with a new actress?

For me, Mehrjui was the first director who was familiar with the language of professional cinema, and he himself worked very professionally. Every new idea was always unique. He had all the details in his mind. It was very strange for me to imagine how a director could picture an entire film in his mind, but Mehrjui was like that. Let me tell you a story. We were shooting Sara, the first film that we worked on together. There was a scene in the hospital in which the main actress [Niki Karimi] had to go up the stairs. There was a shot of her foot, followed by a shot of her hand. I wanted to take a shot of her face when she turned around and changed her direction on the stairs. Mehrjui wanted to see only the face and nothing else. So she turned toward the camera and we shot the stairs in a wider shot separately, but the space was very small. It was only one meter. Mehrjui did not like it. Therefore I asked my assistant to change the lens to 50mm. We were so close to the actress that when she came up the stairs, there was only a tiny space between her and the lens, like the smallest space imaginable. [Laughs] We needed a minimum of a 50- to 55cm distance from the actress. The camera and lens, or the objective, did not accept less than that. Because the actress was more than 55cm from us, and her image was neither focused nor sharp. I told Mehrjui that it was impossible, and if he wanted we could change the lens to 35-40mm. I told him that we needed the wider lens in order to capture her image properly. He said that it did not really matter. I told him again that the image of the actress was not in focus and he said, “It is not important, Mahmoud.” He said that we had more frames of that scene and that no one would notice it in the editing process. What mattered was that he wanted to have a shot of the actress’s face on the screen. My assistant was surprised, but at the same time he agreed to do as he was told because we all believed that Mehrjui had everything set in his mind. So we did not change anything and that shot is actually in the film. So at that time, I realized that Mehrjui was someone really exceptional in cinema.

He had a special way of working with actors. I think this was not because of any special method but because of his intelligence. It was not about his directorial skills but rather his comprehension and wisdom in understating the characters and the significance of the actors’ expressions. For instance, in The Cow, the main character was played by Ezzatolah Entezami. All of his subsequent roles were very close to his character in The Cow: the way he talked, the way he expressed emotions, and so on. Later, Mehrjui directed Mr. Haloo. The main character was played by Ali Nassirian, who was a professional theater actor. All of Nassirian’s later roles were influenced by the way he performed his role in Mr. Haloo [or Mr. Gullible, 1970]. He repeated the same method of acting. The same thing applies to Khosrow Shakibai and his unforgettable role in Hamoun [1990]. All the roles Shakibai played after Hamoun were deeply influenced by his role in that film. He carried Hamoun’s traits within himself at all times: the voice, the motions, the expression, and so on. Mehrjui did not do anything magical, but he had an invaluable skill in choosing actors. He chose someone whose own character was nearly eighty percent identical to the character they played. If Shakibai did not have Hamoun’s traits, he definitely would not have been chosen for that role. The same thing applied to Leila Hatami, Niki Karimi, and Golshifteh Farahani, who was then 15 years old.

I also acted in one of his films. [Laughs] I played the role of the doctor in The Lady [1992]. At that time, I knew nothing about acting. One day, while I was shooting something elsewhere, he called me and invited me to play a role. I asked him hesitantly, “Really? Why do you think that I am able to act”? He said that he was sure about it. I did not give him any response and I told him that I was in the midst of shooting something. I was afraid to act, and I also knew that acting in Mehrjui’s film, where everyone would act very well, would be even more challenging. I was trying to find excuses not to go to the set. Then one day, Mr. Entezami called me saying that they were shooting the film for a month and that Mehrjui had simply skipped the parts that I was supposed to act in. Despite the fact that they had a contract with a professional actor to play my role, in the end Mehrjui insisted that he wanted me to play the role of the doctor. Mr. Entezami then convinced me to go to the set and assured Mehrjui that I was not able to play the role. With that purpose, I did actually go. I ended up playing the role of the doctor who was in love with the main actress in his youth and, when her husband abandoned her, was the one to take care of her. We shot most of my parts without rehearsals. I was really stunned that he did not want to have any rehearsals. In the first take, my mind went blank and I literally forgot everything. But in the end, I managed to play my part well and he was very satisfied with my performance.

In Sara and Leila, the visual language is distinctive. There is a fading out and fading in of colors. How did that work? What did Mehrjui think about that?

Yes, Mehrjui thought a lot about those colors and the fading ins and fading outs. He was thinking about the colors red and yellow for those films. He had something particular in mind for the atmosphere of those films. He gave me a book that consisted of pictures, but I do not remember the name of the photographer. He was very much influenced by those pictures. The colors and details of that book stayed with him and affected him very profoundly. What I am trying to say is that he always had something in his mind. Sometimes, it came from a photo, sometimes it came from a book, sometimes from a painting, and so on.

You first worked with Abbas Kiarostami in The Wind Will Carry Us [1999]. How did you get that job?

We knew each other for more than 10 years. We were friends before making films together. I believe we both hesitated to work with each other for whatever reason. I hesitated because I wanted to maintain our friendship, but I do not know his reasons. [Laughs] Working with Kiarostami was difficult. In many cases, you had to completely fall under his spell. We went on lots of journeys together and collaborated on a lot of photography together. For instance, before he made And Life Goes On [or Life, and Nothing More…, 1992]  we went on a trip and took lots of photos. So we had a good relationship. Before making The Wind Will Carry Us, he visited the location of The Pear Tree, which I was shooting. He liked our gaffer, my assistant Behzad Dorani. He told me that he wanted to test Dorani, because he believed he was suitable to play a role in his film. And that was how Behzad Dorani got the main role in The Wind Will Carry Us. Kiarostami did not want Dorani to feel like he was an actor in the film. Hence, he asked me to go to the set, since Dorani used to work with me all the time as a part of my cinematography crew, so in this way, he would think that he was a part of the cinematography group and not an actor. Kiarostami never had many people in his crew. He always believed that the entire crew had to fit in two cars. [Laughs] Sometimes I think it was because of Behzad Dorani that I actually worked on that film as a cinematographer. Abbas was very strange and funny. I read somewhere that he said he found Dorani on the street. [Laughing]

Another funny story was that he was always taking lots of videos and photos of Behzad, and the night before shooting the film he called me, saying that he thought Behzad was not a good fit for the film. I was very shocked, and I told him that he had to calm himself down because we had no time to bring in another actor. But he insisted that he wanted to test two other guys. I went to his place and he told me to call Behzad, because he wanted to take more videos of him. I said no, because it was very late and we had to be on set early the next morning. But I could not dissuade him, so in the end I called Behzad and asked him to come. Two other guys came as well. One of them was actually Parviz Shahbazi, who is now a well-known director. Kiarostami pointed to Shahbazi and told me that he thought Shahbazi was better that Dorani. I asked him if he was sure about that and he said yes. We spent another three hours shooting videos of Shahbazi, Dorani and the other man, whose name I do not remember. After a couple of hours they left. Then we looked over the videos together and he was not sure which one of them to choose. I was worried, because the shoot was at 8 a.m. and by then it was 3 a.m. In the end, he came to the conclusion that Behzad Dorani was the best fit for the role. Sometimes, I think maybe he wanted to work with me, and that was the reason he chose Dorani. The film contained lots of shots of landscapes and I think he liked my work in Gabbeh, which I shot before his film, and that film had lots of landscape scenes.

The Wind Will Carry Us

What was your experience making that film with him in Kurdistan?

It was exactly like making a documentary, because we were working in a school. It was summer and the school was closed. The location was between Kermanshah and Sanandaj. The place that we stayed was far from the shooting location, and every day we drove around two hours to get there. Bahman Ghobadi was our assistant and production manager. He did lots of things for us because he was the only one among us who spoke Kurdish fluently. He prepared almost everything for us. We started early in the morning, let’s say at around 4:00, 4:30 a.m., when it was completely dark. We went to the location and worked eight to nine hours every day, and then we went back to the camp.

Was it Bahman Ghobadi who decided the schedule or was it Kiarostami himself?

It was Kiarostami of course! At the time Bahman Ghobadi could not say anything. [Laughs] Everything was decided by Kiarostami. Ghobadi was only an assistant. Kiarostami never let anyone say anything. He was self-assertive. That is why I am saying that it was very difficult to work with him. He never listened to anyone or to any ideas. Sometimes, he got mad when we suggested other methods or other ways. He constantly asked us to let him do whatever he had in mind. I know that sometimes people stopped working with him because of this very thing. For instance, in the case of Where Is the Friend’s House [or Where Is the Friend’s Home?, 1987], they changed the cinematographer because he and Kiarostami could not work together. That was Kiarostami. No one could intervene in his work. It was very funny, but there were some problems between Ghobadi and Kiarostami, and Kiarostami at some point wanted to fire him. But we convinced him that we really needed Ghobadi to translate for us and without him we could not finish the film. It was difficult to work with him, but it was also really fantastic. He had some uniqueness, and because of that it was worth working with him.

Let me tell you something fantastic. We were all sitting in the car. We always carried our equipment just in case Kiarostami suddenly wanted to film something. We always had to be ready to shoot. On our route, there were of course people wandering around the villages or walking along the side of the road. Once, he saw someone and he stopped the car, and then he asked us if we were ready. He then called out to the person on the road and asked them to come over. It did not really matter if that person was a man or a woman, or even a child. He just wanted to start a simple conversation. He asked random questions and we filmed the whole conversation. But we did not know what the point of those questions was. One of the questions that he asked repeatedly was, “Where is Siyahdareh?” It was the name of a random village that came to his mind. Then he would ask, “Where is Goldareh?” Goldareh was the name of the village where we actually were. Then, the person would say that we were in Goldareh. Surprisingly, Kiarostami asked that person how he knew where Goldareh was, as the name was not mentioned on the map nor was there any sign of its name in the village. He was curious as to how people could find the village. People answered this very wonderful question so differently. Some replied that they knew it by heart, while others replied and pointed out some signs, and so on. But Kiarostami was not satisfied with their answers until one day a man replied thusly: “We never leave the village, so we do not really need to look for it.” Kiarostami did not say cut at that moment. He loved it so much. That was what he wanted. He always wanted to investigate, to explore. This is what I mean about his uniqueness. He came up with those magnificent questions and he was very eager to find the best answer.

Kiarostami was a photographer himself. I was wondering, when you made a film like this, did you choose the camera or did he decide on the camera? How did you make those decisions?

Honestly, those decisions were made by both of us. As I have said, we did photography together. Sometimes we had different visions. But he knew exactly what he wanted. He always chose the perfect location. He knew the lighting and everything else so well. In many cases, we waited three to four hours to get the best lighting for a picture. He had a fantastic vision and a wonderful visual mind. As you know, he was a great painter as well.

Let’s talk about Shirin [2008]. I know it was shot without the actresses knowing what film they were supposed to be watching. They were just looking into the camera. What did Kiarostami tell you about the film?

At first he wanted to put on a film and record the actresses’ reactions to the film. But the evening of the shooting day, he changed his mind and decided to use voice only. At first he was thinking of using the narrative and music of Romeo and Juliet, which he later changed to the well-known Iranian tragic romance Shirin and Farhad [1970]. He wanted to see the actresses’ reactions. He told the performers to imagine the film or anything that would arouse some sort of emotion such as grief, sadness, or melancholy. Each performer reacted differently, and he decided if the reaction went well with the performer’s face. I honestly did not know what he had in mind. He asked some older Iranian actresses, such as Poori Banaei and Iren, who used to be stars and acted in films before the Revolution of 1979, to be in the film. Those actresses were very excited to perform in front of the camera one more time. They had not appeared in front of the camera for more than twenty years. Being on set after so many years and seeing Kiarostami as a director made them exceedingly happy and joyful.

A Separation is a very distinctive-looking film for various reasons. You used a lot of barriers. How did that visual language come about for the film?

Farhadi had experiences working with hand-held cameras in some of his films, such as About Elly [2009] and Fireworks Wednesday [2006]. In Separation, he wanted to do the same thing but with more narrow lenses and compositions formed and created with people. What I mean is that if in About Elly we saw two shots, three shots, or even some long shots that characters moved in those spaces, in Separation we moved along with the characters. We basically followed the characters. Sometimes, we started with an over-the-shoulder shot and then moved on to a two-shot and sometimes a three-shot, and once again we went back to more closed and limited spaces. It was an exceptional experience, especially in filming those shot-reverse shots, which I believed to be exemplary models that could be taught at universities. Those shots were very accurate, perfect, sincere and sensitive, and sometimes it made everyone believe that those shots were taken with two cameras. I even heard from a world-famous cinematographer that he thought we had filmed those shots with two cameras, and I told him that we shot all of those shots with only one camera. All the shots were taken with one hand-held camera, which weighted seven kilos. Farhadi never believed in making a film with two cameras. He always wanted to control each shot very attentively. Even if we were given five cameras, he only used one. Separation was the most accomplished and perfect version of hand-held camera work that I have ever worked on in cinema.

Did you rehearse a lot?

Yes. Too much! Sometimes, we rehearsed a scene more than 12 times.

Did you shoot a lot of takes?

No. We could not shoot many takes because we did not have many negatives. That was the problem in Iran. Normally we were given 100 to 120 rolls and we had to finish with those limited rolls. That was the main reason we had many rehearsals before shooting the film.

How did the actors do in that situation? Was it hard for them?

It was very difficult for the actors. Farhadi started the rehearsals 45 days before shooting the film. That was the main reason why actors came to the first day of shooting well-prepared. Farhadi had a background in theater, so in the rehearsal process he trained actors to work on their emotions. He wanted to work with Marion Cotillard in The Past [2013], but Cotillard was unable to come to rehearsals 40 days before shooting. She could come one week before shooting, and Farhadi did not accept that. He collaborated with Bérénice Bejo instead. Honestly, I do not know any directors who would spend that much time on practicing, and that was his key to success.

What about those things that you were looking through? Those windows? Those barriers?

During the rehearsal process, we tried to find the location. Normally in Iran, we go to people’s houses to shoot, so all the locations are real. We never use sets. That is the reason it was very hard for Farhadi to make The Past in Paris, because all the locations were made for him. French producers told him that it was impossible for Farhadi to search for locations in people’s houses. [Laughing] Back to Separation, after searching lots of houses, we eventually found the apartment. He asked the art director to take out the doors, and so on. He built the doors again. For the old man’s room, he ordered a door with stained glass. He changed all the colors. He decided to make some changes to the walls. He made some spaces in colliders. He changed everything in the apartment completely. He went back to the location late at night, like at 2:00 am, and thought about the shots and pictured them all. He would then call me at that time, consulting me about his new ideas. He did the rehearsals somewhere else with the actors, but every day he would go back to the location to check, change, and practice. He practiced everything himself, found the best way, and then asked people to do it.

So he figured out all the composition on his own?

Yes. Exactly!

By Godfrey Cheshire on September 12, 2018 for Film Comment

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