Iranians’ New Cultural Achievements

Monday, June 13, 2011

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*Sydney Festival Awards Farhadi Film

Renowned Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's Nader and Simin: A Separation has been awarded at the 2011 edition of Sydney Film Festival.

The family drama won the event's USD60,000 Sydney Film Prize after competing against this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner Tree of Life.

Sydney Film Prize looks for films that demonstrate "emotional power and resonance; are audacious, cutting-edge, courageous; and go beyond the usual treatment of the subject matter."

Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige said on behalf of the official competition jury that they had been mindful of the key criteria for this prize, The Australian reported.

"In our final deliberations we found two very different films about the relationships between men and women came closest to fitting these criteria," he said

He added that Nader and Simin: A Separation "looks beneath the surface of relations between men and women in Iran in a way that raises questions about law, freedom and feminine and masculine honor.”

Nader and Simin: A Separation recounts the story of an Iranian middle-class couple who are getting a divorce, while considering the future of their only child.

The film won the Golden Bear Award of the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival and the event's Silver Bears for the entire male and female cast ensemble.

Farhadi received a USD 25,000 grant from the Motion Picture Association and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) for the script development of the drama which was assessed as "a beautiful human study of a very normal everyday life, with people in a region who are being challenged all the time by issues social, geographical and financial."

The Hollywood Reporter has predicted the film will be among next year's foreign language Oscars nominees.

Sacher Film, which belongs to Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti, has also acquired the rights to distribute the film in Italy and screen it in cinemas starting June 2011.

Nader and Simin, A Separation has been invited to take part in the 'horizons' section of the 2011 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The film is also scheduled to hit the screens in Germany beginning July 14 and on July 22 in Britain.

“Alzheimer’s” Wins Special Jury Award at Italian Festival

The 57th Taormina Film Festival wrapped up on Saturday, handing a special jury prize to Iranian Ahmadreza Motamedi’s “Alzheimer’s”.

A special jury comprised of journalists, critics and scholars from the main jury of the festival, warmly received the film after a solo screening of it at the festival, Motamedi told the Persian service of MNA on Monday.

“I am happy that despite the cultural differences between Iran and the West, the film was easily understood by Western viewers, and that the critics and journalists had a proper understanding of the film’s concept.

“This is the second international award for the film in addition to the Golden Flag Award at the international section of the 29th Fajr Film Festival in February,” Motamedi said.

Starring Mehdi Hashemi, Mahtab Keramati, Mehran Ahmadi and Faramarz Qaribian, the movie tells the story of a woman who has lost her husband in an accident and advertizes in the newspaper every year hoping to find him.

Running in Sicily from June 11 to 18, ‘Plank’ nabbed the Golden Tauro for best film plus best director for helmer Leila Kilani and a joint prize for the four lead actresses: Soufia Issami, Mouna Bahmad, Nouzha Akel and Sara Betioui, Variety reported on Monday.

The special jury prize went to the animated French pic “The Rabbi’s Cat,” directed by Joann Sfar, from the jury consisting of director Patrice Leconte, Egyptian actress Yousra and Italian actress Maya Sansa.

In the Beyond the Mediterranean section, judged by a public jury, the award went to the Dutch film “Black Butterfly” directed by Paula van der Oest.

*Iranian Cineastes Catch Golden Birds of Kurdish Festival

Iranian directors captured Golden Bird Awards at the Ranya Children’s Film Festival which was held from June 12 to 15 in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.

Iranian films dominated the Golden Bird Awards with five winners while festival officials honored the Iranian Setak Film Company for its “sympathetic cooperation” with the festival.

The Best Screenplay Award went to Jafar Nurmohammadi for his “The Nest on a Stone”. Teymur Qaderi was picked as the Best Director for his film “Pomegranate is a Heavenly Fruit”.

Actress Negin Shariati was selected as best actress for her role in “Football Field” and Matin Ebadi was selected as best actor for his role in “Picking the Dawn”. Akbar Shahbazi’s “Hawri” won the Special Jury Prize at the festival.

A total of 12 short films by Iranian directors and nine movies by the Kurdish filmmakers went on screen at the festival.

*Belgium Festival Awards Iran War Drama

The 2011 edition of Belgium's Millennium International Documentary Festival has awarded Molf-e Gand directed by Iranian filmmaker Mahmoud Rahmani.

The 53-minute film received the event's Special Prize of the Jury for the most original and innovative film, Fars News Agency reported.

Dubbed the longest shot in Iranian cinema, the film provides a new perspective on the Iraq-Iran war through a narration by Mohammad Ghadirzadeh, who witnessed the war in the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz.

The war drama was screened during the third edition of the festival which was held from June 8 to 14, 2011, in the capital city of Brussels.

Molf-e Gand has also been screened at the 2010 Munich Documentary Film Festival and the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).

Rahmani is internationally known for his social and political documentaries, such as The White Oil and Zero Degree Orbit.

His awarded movie My Mother, Oak made its international debut during the annual Munich Documentary Film Festival in May 2011.

*Polish Festival Honors Iran’s Mehdi Farajpur

Iranian director Mehdi Farajpur won the best director award for “Beckett” at the 24th Puppet and Actor Theater, an international festival which took place in Lomza in Poland from June 7 to 10.

The play is based on “Krapp’s Last Tape” by Samuel Beckett. It tells story of Krapp, a writer. Each year on his birthday, he takes out a tape he has recorded on a previous birthday to examine his former self and to record a new tape about the direction his life is taking.

“Since 2004, Krapp has been churning in my head searching to find a proper way to reveal itself,” Farajpur has said about the play on his website.

“But I have never allowed myself time to start working on it for all these years. The reason was ‘Beckett’ himself, since he is a very particular writer.

“It’s hard to free yourself as director from the atmosphere created by Beckett. He does not let you on the stage to do what you like.

“Sooner or later, you will find yourself on a path which was paved by Samuel Beckett. I wanted present a challenge to this notion.

“The path upon which I found it interesting to start the challenge was Text. This means challenging words, the very foundation of Beckett’s concept. The idea was to pass beyond words onto movement/dance.”

*UN Honors Iran Academic Award Winner

Iranian academic and winner of the 2011 United Nations Population Award Mohammad-Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi has been honored during a UN-organized ceremony.

Prof. Abbasi-Shavazi officially received his UN award during the meeting that was held in the UN Economic and Social Council Chambers on Thursday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The Iranian professor was earlier announced as the winner of the UN award for his work on population and contributing to the improvement of people's health.

Led by Egypt's Ambassador to the United Nations Maged A. Abdelaziz, the award committee consisted of ten United Nations member states, with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as its secretariat.

The UN Economic and Social Council selects countries to the award committee for three-year terms.

Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi, who is a demographer, shared the UN annual award with the African research institution, L'Institut de Formation et de Recherche Demographique (IFORD).

He has been the head of the Division of Population Research at the University of Tehran since 2001 and his research is mainly focused on population and development, reproductive health and fertility, and immigration and refugees.

He has also been working as a professor, demographic researcher and advisor, and has contributed to the understanding of the dynamics of Iran's fertility decline.

Prof. Abbasi-Shavazi's studies showed that improving women's education and status, and their access to reproductive healthcare have led to smaller family sizes in Iran.

The award-winning scholar got his PhD in Demography from the Australian National University and his efforts have promoted the view that social, economic and cultural differences among countries could better explain fertility differentials.

Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi has also connected international demographers and Iranian scholars to collaborate in studying the rapid Iranian fertility decline.

*FICMA 2011 Awards Iran Documentary

The 2011 Barcelona International Environment Film Festival has awarded Iran. Southwestern directed by Iranian filmmaker Mohammad-Reza Fartousi.

The 50-minute documentary received the event's Special Award for raising public awareness about environmental issues, Fars News Agency reported.

Iran. Southwestern is about the al-Azim marshland in southwestern Iran which is endangered by draught, and the last residents living in the marsh.

Fartousi's production was the only Iranian representative in the festival which competed with 24 films from different countries such as the US, Spain, France, Canada, the UK, Australia, Switzerland and Sweden.

Mamen Boue, Nieves Sanchez Nunez and Tsur Mishall judged this year's documentaries.

The Barcelona International Environment Film Festival (FICMA) was founded in 1993 and known as the longest run Environmental Film Festival in Europe and the second in the world.

The 2011 edition of FICMA was held from June 1 to 8, featuring environment inspired/themed documentaries, animations and short films.

*Prague Awards Iranian Puppet Show

The 2011 edition of Prague's World Festival of Puppet Theater has awarded an Iranian play about life of Persian mystic and writer Mansour Al-Hallaj.

Directed by Zohreh Behrouzinia, Today, Tomorrow, and the Day After Tomorrow won the event's Award for the Best Original Performance.

The play's puppeteer Hoda Naseh also received the Best Actor Award of the Czech festival, which was held from May 30 to June 5.

Today, Tomorrow, and the Day After Tomorrow was also nominated for the Best Artistic Creation Award, the Award for the Best Director, the Award for the Best Performance on World Puppet Festival Prague 2011, and the Award for the Best Scenery and Puppet Design.

Behrouzinia's production recounts the life story of Persian mystic Mansour Al-Hallaj from his wife's viewpoint, Mehr News Agency reported.

Playwright Nima Dehqani said his aim was to portray Al-Hallaj's family life as a luminary and to present his wife's loneliness from a new perspective.

Veteran Iranian stage director Behrouz Gharibpour judged this year's works along with Czech critic Jiri Kriz and Slovenian director, puppeteer and actor Robert Walti.

Prague's World Festival of Puppet Theater hosted dramatists, filmmakers and artist in an attempt to bring people of different states, nations, cultures, faiths and races together.

*Spain Awards Shabaviz Publishing Co.

Spain has granted the annual Golden Eagle Award for Prestige and Quality to Iran's Shabaviz Publishing Company for its international cultural activities.

Madrid's Actualidad magazine awarded the Iranian company for its international achievements in introducing Iranian arts and culture to its world audience.

“The award-giving ceremony will be held on July 17 at Madrid's Melia Castilla Hotel,” Shabaviz manager Farideh Khalatbari told Mehr News Agency.

“The award was established in 1995 in an attempt to recognize and introduce the most influential entrepreneurs,” she added.

“International activities are very important for organizers of the award and books published by Shabaviz are quite well-known in many countries, especially in Asia and Europe,” Khalatbari explained adding that the award will help international publishers to know Shabaviz and encourage them to increase their cooperation with us.

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