Golden Globe Winners 2021 ::
'Nomadland' director Chloé Zhao won Best Director, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to take home that award, while the film itself won Best Motion – Picture Drama; Soul, Borat, The Queen's Gambit..
'How Fernando Pessoa Saved Portugal' :: Eugène Green
For years Portugal was the only country in Europe where there was no Coca-Cola. The director discusses his new "mini-film," devoted to the great Portuguese poet, advertising..
Copenhagen 2021 :: Vinterberg's 'Druk' snatches Five Robert Statuettes
In the category, Vinterberg was, among other things, up against himself, as he was also nominated for his role in the film “Riders..
Zindagi Tamasha :: Circus of Life :: 2020
‘It went from love to wanting to kill me.’ Sarmad Khoosat was the darling of Pakistan’s entertainment industry until his new film fell foul of fundamentalists – who called for him..
'No Choice' :: Tokyo 2020
It’s a slippery path up the mountain of human rights. Three good women clash when a determined lawyer takes on the case of a homeless girl against an idealistic doctor in Reza Dormishian’s legal thriller..
'Wife of a Spy' :: An intriguing marital battle
Winner of the best director award at the Venice Film Festival. An absorbing, exotic, well-paced thriller with moments of disconcerting realism and horror. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s..
"Actress's Ears" Put Film Screening in Jeopardy
Panthea Bahram, a famous Iranian actress, whose presence last year with shaved head at the press conference to a movie made news; reacted to the removal of "Killer and..
'Hope Gap' :: A Bracingly Original Drama
There's an unusual calmness to this drama that feels bracingly original. William Nicholson's Hope Gap benefits from a starry cast in the stagey story. Nighy and Bening are as good..
'Killer and Wild' removed from the Fajr Film Festival
A movie with Iranian actress Leila Hatami in the leading role was excluded from a major Film Festival event in Iran due to her 'shaved head and exposed ears' ..
Maria is a Greek policewoman, struggling with her money problems, teenage daughter, old mother.. Yussof is a Syrian rebel, on his way out of a war-ridden Syria. Both have killed unwantedly, both feel guilty, but together..
51st Edition Of IFFI 2021
The 51st edition of India’s International Film Festival (IFFI) kick started on 16th January at Goa, which opened with the Indian premier of the movie ‘Another Round’ by Thomas Vinterberg..
'Alone' :: Movie Review
"Alone" is admirably straightforward, exploring tried-and-true archetypes with suspenseful execution. Director John Hyams demonstrates a minimalistic knack for showing and not telling,..
'The Female Voice of Iran' :: Feature documentary 2020
Independent documentary about female singers inside Iran and their deep wish: "I want my voice to be heard." Captivating...beautiful music and stunning..
'The Father' :: Movie Review
Sundance: Florian Zeller's film makes an inexplicably cruel element of the human condition recognizable in a way that only good art can. Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman Inside the Brutal Matrix of Dementia..
‘Money Heist’ :: As smart as it is relentless
Like a criminal who has trapped themselves within a situation in which there’s no simple escape, Money Heist is a riveting, inescapable show with a narrative jackpot at the end of it..
‘Vivos’ :: Ai Weiwei's Mournful Ode to the Disappeared
Vivos is a documentary feature film by artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, portraying the human impact of Mexico’s ongoing crisis of enforced disappearances..
Family Romance, LLC (2020)
Love is a business at Family Romance, a company that rents human stand-ins for any occasion. Founder Yuichi Ishii helps make his clients’ dreams come true. But when the mother of 12-year-old Mahiro hires Ishii to..
'Let Him Go' (2020)
Kevin Costner excels in a gripping neo-western thriller. Let Him Go is a moving and gripping Western with particularly strong performances from Diane Lane as a grieving yet resolute mother and from Lesley Manville as her..
In Memoriam of Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk
In the small pool of filmmakers known for being provocative, Kim Ki-duk was the oddest of ducks. South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk has died in Latvia aged 59 after contracting..
'The Life Ahead' (2020)
Loren has made it again! She's an absolute Goddess. The characters are colorful and empathetic, and even if the plot is simple, the cast keeps it up. Specially, Sophia Loren.. Sempre adorabile!
'What We Did on Our Holiday'
An exceedingly funny comedy that definitely borders on Black Comedy but still tinkers in the realm of being light hearted. It has a very kind of Outnumbered feel to it in which the kids play their innocence, yet brilliantly..
'Radiograph of a Family'
Iranian director Firouzeh Khosrovani triumphed at IDFA 2020 with her fourth film Radiograph of a Family, winning the main award in the IDFA Competition for Feature Length Documentary and the IDFA Competition for Creative Use of..
'Falling' :: Viggo Mortensen's Directorial Debut
A beautifully controlled drama about age, memory and forgiveness. Often abrasive, occasionally sweet, and sometimes grasping for transcendence, "Falling" doesn't feel like..
'Careless Crime' (2020) :: Movie Review
Iranian director Shahram Mokri, known for his single-shot films and his decided penchant for time-loops, achieves formalistic excellence in his latest effort..
Secrets of the Surface (2020)
Filmed in Canada, Iran, and the United States, 'Secrets of the Surface' examines the life and mathematical work of Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian immigrant to the United States who became a superstar in her field..
'Another Round' :: Review
Thomas Vinterberg reteams with "The Hunt" star for a darkly comic referendum on booze. Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in..
'There Is No Evil' :: Premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Fest
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof's 'There Is No Evil' has triumphed at the 70th Berlinale, picking up the Golden Bear. The director himself was not present..
'Tesla' :: Sundance Review
A fascinating, if unconventional, look at the singular life of Nikola Tesla as played by Ethan Hawke. Appropriately bold and ambitious, Tesla takes a number of risks that don't always pay off -- but Ethan Hawke's performance..
Documenting the Struggle for Women's Rights in Iran
One of the women featured in this short documentary, Nasrin Sotoudeh is now serving a decades-long sentence in Evin Prison in Iran. Released alongside Jeff Kaufman's..
'Bacurau' :: A John Carpenter-Inspired Revenge Fantasy
A settlement in rural Brazil, a doctor (played by a gaunt and fierce Sônia Braga), a school, a (disused) church, even a brothel, but no sheriff. Something strange is happening..
TALE OF THE SEA :: Film Review
One of Iran's major filmmakers is at the top of his game with this Ingmar Bergman-esque meditation on old age. One man's madness as a metaphor for the surreal lives of a whole nation..
'Ordinary Love' :: There is nothing Ordinary about Love
"Ordinary Love" is not a movie solely about cancer. It is a raw, on-screen adaptation of what hundreds of couples experience when their limits are tested - physically, mentally..
13th Annual Iranian Film Festival :: San Francisco
Call For Entries Open for the 13th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran..
'1982' :: Premiered at TIFF :: 2019
During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at a private school on the outskirts of Beirut, 11-year-old Wissam tries to tell a classmate about his crush on her..
'The Perfect Candidate' :: Haifaa al-Mansour :: 2019
For Haifaa al-Mansour, it's an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by courageous women like her. A message movie admirable for its subtlety as well as its execution..
'The Truth :: La Vérité' :: 2019
At 76, Catherine Deneuve can still blow all-comers off a cinema screen, and she does exactly that in Hirokazu Kore-eda's Truth, which playfully explores the vexed relationship between..
'Paddleton' :: An Awkward Embrace With Fragile Masculinity
A drily ambling exploration of masculinity and overcoming self-imposed barriers. An unlikely bromance between two misfit neighbors..
'The Lunchbox (DABBA)' :: Cannes Review
Cinema loses giant Irrfan Khan to cancer and we take a look at the tenderness of his performance in The Lunchbox. It's carried off with charm and wit, and a pair of very..
'This Beautiful Fantastic' :: An Oddball Modern-Day Fairy Tale
A charming, beautifully photographed modern fairy tale about love and gardening, This Beautiful Fantastic is worth seeing in spite of its dumb deterrent of a title..
'Bombshell' :: #MeToo docudrama
Bombshell benefits from a terrific cast and a worthy subject, but its impact is muffled by a frustrating inability to go deeper than the sensationalistic surface..
'Just Mercy' :: Law Drama Inspired by True Events
Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, a steady directorial hand, and enough urgency to overcome a certain degree of earnest advocacy..
'Imitation of Life' :: A Melodramatic Torrent of Rage
Douglas Sirk unleashed a melodramatic torrent of rage at the corrupt core of American life - the unholy trinity of racism, commercialism, and puritanism..
'Adopt a Highway' :: Movie review
Logan Marshall-Green's directorial debut stars Ethan Hawke as a sweet ex-con who finds new purpose when he discovers a baby in a dumpster..
'Away':: A beautifully crafted minimalist adventure
Latvian filmmaker Gints Zilbalodis has written, animated, designed, edited, directed, and composed the music for his feature debut himself, with impressive results..
'Live Twice, Love Once' :: Movie review
An award-winner in Spain, 'Live Twice, Love Once' is a mature film that deals effectively with both family separation and reconciliation in sorrowful times..
A Writer Named Tove :: CPH:DOX 2020
A mosaic portrait of the Danish writer and poet Tove Ditlevsen. The self-confident and outspoken author, and the fragile woman behind the books..
'Arab Blues' :: An Entertaining Tunisian Culture-Clash Comedy
Mildly amusing froth, kept all the more buoyant by Farahani's deadpan reactions and immensely watchable face and fine comic..
'Donbass' :: Brutally powerful and brilliantly filmed
In its own absurdist way, it does shed some light on just what the war did to the lives - and sensibilities - of civilians caught up in the nightmare. It illustrates man's inhumanity..
The Flu That Killed 50 Million :: More Deadly Than War
In 1918, as the Armistice bells rang out across the world to celebrate the end of World War I, a silent killer made its way home with the soldiers - Spanish flu...
'Uzak' (Distant) :: The Art of Slow Cinema
Hauntingly beautiful, 'Distant' communicates volumes with its almost pervasive silence. Ceylan contrasts rich and poor, educated and uneducated. But the quest for love remains..
BERLINALE 2020 Awards :: Rasoulof's There Is No Evil triumphs at the Berlinale
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof's 'There Is No Evil' has triumphed at the 70th Berlinale, picking up the Golden Bear..
'The Sea Inside' :: Bardem is simply astounding
If ever there was a film that deserved to get the proverbial bump from Oscar, this is it. Rarely has any film so focused on death felt so vibrantly alive..
'PARI' :: Review :: BERLINALE 2020 Panorama
The debut feature by Siamak Etemadi, world-premiered in the Panorama section of the 70th Berlinale, depicts an Iranian mother's compelling journey in a foreign place..
'Wildland' :: Interview :: World premiere at the Berlinale
In 'Wildland', we follow a small family clan where love and violence become dangerously merged. In the interview, they talk about how they created the narrative, how they use..
Berlinale 2020 :: 11 films to look out for
Screen Daily picks out just a few of the stand-out titles playing at the event, from across the Competition, Berlinale Special, and Panorama sections..
Mahnaz Afshar :: 'Die Hochzeit'
The Iranian superstar Mahnaz Afshar was at the world premiere of the new Til Schweiger film "Die Hochzeit". She flew to Berlin for Schweiger and experienced a free wedding ceremony on the red carpet..
'RAAZI' :: Movie Review
Despite its shortcomings, Raazi has a lot going for it, especially its leading lady. If you are willing to suspend your imagination a bit, it can make for a fulfilling watch. The story of a Kashmiri spy married to a Pakistani man..
'The Two Popes' :: Movie Review
Superbly acted and a lot of fun to watch. Can two Catholic men share the Papacy without driving each other crazy? The Two Popes is a wonderful showcase of great acting..
As Lean experienced Khomeini's Arrival
Lean Waage Beck tells about her experiences as a sister-in-law to the revolutionary Foreign Minister of Iran. About the Iranian Revolution, also described in her book "Tehran Round-Trip"..
'Pain and Glory' :: Movie Review
The Spanish filmmaker's tale of a memory, regret and an aging director making peace with his past isn't just his most personal film — it's also one of his greatest..
SUNDANCE 2020 :: Massoud Bakhshi :: Interview
Iranian filmmaker Massoud Bakhshi discusses Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness, a majority European production recognised in Sundance and on its way to the Berlinale..
Oscars 2020 :: 'Parasite' wins in four categories
For the first time in history of the Oscars Parasite, an international film, Wins in four categories. Parasite, a South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho..
SUNDANCE 2020 :: 'Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness'
The future of a young woman facing retributive justice plays out live on the country's most popular reality show..
'Reaching for the Moon' :: 'The art of losing isn't hard to master'
An exotic love story becomes an empowering portrait of two highly gifted women who defy social convention. The life of American Poet..
'Things to Come' :: A Rare, Mature film of Ideas
Visually arresting, but never precious, it's filled with ideas that have relevance to actual life, ideas that are based on a moral conviction that a question well-posed is far more..
'Madame' :: A cute inversion of the Cinderella tale
Madame's retrograde trappings are further weighted down by unlikable characters and an overall inability to do justice to its themes. Rossy de Palma, a past muse of Spanish..
'FURIE' :: Don't Make a Vietnamese Mother Mad
When a little girl is kidnapped by a trafficking ring, her mother, a notorious former gang leader, is close on their trail and will go to any lengths to bring her child home..
'What They Had' :: A stunning feature debut
What They Had finds laughter and tears in its portrait of a family at a crossroads, with writer-director Elizabeth Chomko getting outstanding performances out of a talented..
'Marriage Story' :: Reaching for life after the death of divorce
Johansson and Driver are remarkably, heartbreakingly good in every scene; showing their characters' journeys to an unflinching camera, , letting the gap between them..
The Tale :: HBO's Most Controversial Movie Ever?
The Tale handles its extraordinarily challenging subject matter with sensitivity, grace, and the power of some standout performances led by a remarkable Laura Dern..
Bille August :: To direct psychological drama The Pact
The new feature by the Danish filmmaker centres on the secret relationship between Karen Blixen and young poet Thorkild Bjørnvig..
'Hotel by the River' :: Movie Review
Feeling, for no apparent reason, like he is going to die, an old poet, staying for free in a riverside hotel, summons his two estranged sons..
'The Irishman' :: Movie Review
Scorsese's expert direction allows the three and a half hour runtime to fly by. In fact, as soon as it's over you'll want to experience this achievement all over again..
Payman Maadi :: To receive the Stockholm Achievement Award
Iranian actor Payman Maadi will be awarded the 2019 Stockholm Achievement Award for his unique quality of reaching through the screen, past prejudices and over borders..
Long Day's Journey Into Night (2018)
Time moves differently in "Long Day's Journey Into Night," a sensuous, dream-like Chinese drama set in and around the Southeast mainland city of Kaili..
Written on the Wind :: A Masterpiece Of Self-Parody
Douglas Sirk is the one who established the kind of tone in melodramas, in which shocking behavior is treated with passionate solemnity, while parody burbles beneath...
VENICE 2019 :: Out of Competition :: 'ZeroZeroZero'
Gabriel Byrne plays Edward Lynwood, an important shipbroker from New Orleans who hides tonne-loads of cocaine in the hundreds of containers he moves between the New..
Venice Film Festival 2019 :: Polanski wins Silver Lion
Roman Polanski has won the Grand Jury Prize for 'An Officer and a Spy'. He did not attend the festival and the prize was instead collected by his wife Emmanuelle Seigner, who stars in..
Venice Film Festival 2019 :: 'Joker' Wins Golden Lion
'Joker' Wins Venice Film Festival Golden Lion, Roman Polanski Gets Grand Jury Prize. The top prize of the Lido went to Todd Phillips' revisionist take on the DC comic villain..
The Souvenir :: Movie Review
Tom Burke and Honor Swinton Byrne appear in The Souvenir by Joanna Hogg, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival..
Filmmakers Escorted Rasoulof to the Revolutionary Court
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof went to the Revolutionary Court to appeal his sentence on Monday, with a group of filmmakers reportedly accompanying him..
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower :: 2017
Documentary about Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activist Joshua Wong. When the Chinese Communist Party backtracks on its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong, teenager Joshua..
'Astronaut' :: Film Review :: Edinburgh 2019
Richard Dreyfuss plays a grouchy grandfather with interstellar ambitions in writer-director Shelagh McLeod's debut feature. Even though he knows the mission could kill him..
Cannes, New York Film Festivals :: Calls for Release of Mohammad Rasoulof
Organizers of the Cannes Film Festival are calling on Iran to release dissident filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who was sentenced..
Bahman Mohasses ::
Fifi Howls From Happiness

Bahman Mohassess was a celebrated artist at the time of the Shah. Trained in Italy, he created sculptures and paintings in his homeland. Mitra Farahani's direction is..
ROBERT BRESSON :: Retrospective
Despite a relatively small body of work consisting of thirteen feature films made over forty years, Robert Bresson is one of the most revered and pivotal of French filmmakers..
Disconnect :: Movie Review
A complicated view of life in the Digital Age with its conflicts and relationships initiated through laptops, iPads and cell phones. People fall in love, exploit one another, reveal their deepest secrets and even commit..
Dictatorland :: Series 1 ::
1. Kazakhstan

From golden handprints of the president to the scene of a massacre, in Kazakhstan Ben Zand experiences the sinister and bizarre sides to living in a dictatorship..
“Travel to the Morning”
To commemorate Abbas Kiarostami at Tehran gallery
Tehran's E1 Gallery will organize an exhibition entitled “Travel to the Morning” in memory of legendary artist Abbas Kiarostami..
'Diego Maradona' (2019) :: Movie Review :: Cannes
A Gripping Saga of Soccer Legend's Fall From Grace. It's a dramatic shift, but only a starting point. "Amy" director Asif Kapadia's crafts an absorbing look at Maradona's epic journey..
How the Tiananmen Massacre Changed China forever
“There is a lesson the world could learn here, engagement as a policy is not wrong, but engagement… that obscures human rights is morally and politically wrong.”
A Love Letter to Caramel :: What happened to you Nadine Labaki?
I just finished watching Caramel on MUBI and, ladies and gentlemen, I am totally shocked. How on earth could I have misjudged this film?
Cannes 2019 :: Atlantics
Mati Diop's Dazzling Ghost Story
Mati Diop's feature-length directorial debut is a romantic and melancholy film, part social commentary, part ghost tale, that works best in its evocation of loss and female solidarity..
First Reformed :: Review
A Stunning, Enrapturing Film

Paul Schrader's “First Reformed,” in which Ethan Hawke brilliantly plays an alcoholic Protestant minister undergoing a profound spiritual and psychological crisis, is..
CANNES 2019 :: Competition
Antonio Banderas :: Pain & Glory
Antonio Banderas wins Cannes 'best actor' as Almodovar alter ego. Cineuropa met Spanish thesp Antonio Banderas to discuss Pedro Almodóvar's Pain & Glory..
CANNES 2019 :: Competition
Elia Suleiman :: It Must Be Heaven

Cineuropa sat down with Palestinian director Elia Suleiman to delve deeper into his Palme d'Or contender It Must Be Heaven. Elia Suleiman travels to different cities and finds..
Cannes 2019 :: Winners List
Bong Joon-ho Wins Palme d'Or
Alejandro González Iñárritu and his jury has announced the festival's best performances and films.The 2019 Cannes Film Festival officially comes to an end..
CANNES 2019 :: Sylvester Stallone :: Cannes Darling
Stallone was at the festival to promote "Rambo V: Last Blood" opening this fall. But the conversation, moderated by the journalist Didier Allouch, was mainly a look back at his..
CANNES 2019 :: Critics' Week :: Cesar Diaz :: Our Mothers
"Once we've all finished killing each other, what do we do with our dead? How do we heal our wounds? We need to take a look at the scars of our past. It has to start with..
Sorrentino's Youth (2015)
A Meditation on Art and Aging

Watching Youth, you'd swear Fellini had risen from his grave and returned to make another movie. Give it up for Michael Caine and Jane Fonda in this autumn-years drama that's an..
Cannes 2019 :: Nadine Labaki
President of the Un Certain Regard Jury at the 72nd Annual Cannes Film Festival, the director, actress and screenwriter Nadine Labaki's career was first launched on the Croisette, and it is here that all her films..
Cannes 2019
Refn's "Too Old To Die Young"

After world premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, the television series will hit Amazon Prime Video this summer. A detective thriller from film provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn..
Nancy (2018) :: Review
This is a movie whose behind-the-camera creative team is almost entirely female. In several respects, “Nancy” exhibits a seriousness of purpose that's rare in American movies today..
'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'
Melissa McCarthy is a lock for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of Lee Israel, a lonely, embittered author of celebrity biographies who took up forgery to pay the bills..
BIF&ST 2019 :: Ali Vatansever :: Director of Saf
How do you stay human in a difficult place, when you're surrounded by monsters? How do you manage to stay pure when the world obliges you to take one side or the other?
'Never Look Away' :: Review
Germany's submission for the Best Foreign-Language Oscar turns a Gerald Richter-like painter into a symbol of social change. 'Never Look Away' concerns itself with love and war and the limitless reach of art..
Fernando Colomo :: La Banda Picasso (2013)
Filmed in French and set principally in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, La banda Picasso is a caper comedy about a burglary that is based on real characters and events..
Sundance Review :: 'Queen Of Hearts' (2019)
An intriguing, smartly sustained drama in which we learn to be wary of those who claim the moral high ground. Things are never going to end well in Queen Of Hearts, which follows a..
Rotterdam Review :: 'Sons Of Denmark' (2019)
This political thriller has shades of traditional tragedy and revolves around the question: How do you stay calm when society succumbs to fear and hate?..
CANNES 2019 Opening
Cannes to be opened by 'The Dead Don't Die'

The film by US director Jim Jarmusch will raise the curtain on the 72nd Cannes Film Festival (14-25 May) and will be screened in..
Review: The Wind. A Documentary Thriller

Michał Bielawski's fourth feature-length documentary about a mysterious and destructive wind is a real tour de force..
'Born in Evin' :: Processing the trauma of the Islamic Revolution
Born in Evin tells the story of the family of director and actor Maryam Zaree, who sets out to investigate the circumstances of her birth in one of the world's most notorious jails for..
'All the Money in the World'
Replacing Kevin Spacey in true-life kidnap thriller 'All the Money in the World,' Christopher Plummer plays tycoon John Paul Getty "with acid humor, stunted emotion and magisterial skill," writes Peter Travers..
'The Wild Pear Tree' :: A study of the conversational art
Whereas 'Winter Sleep' played like a journey into the darker corners of a troubled brain, 'The Wild Pear Tree' spends as much time being playful as it does cogitating on the great..
'The Bookshop' :: Review
The script may stutter but the cast - especially Mortimer and Nighy - hold this uneven project together. And Clarkson is but one of a legion of baddies to enjoy loathing. A free-spirited widow arrives in a whispering community..
'3 FACES' by JAFAR PANAHI :: at the Irish Film Institute
Iranian film '3 Faces' by Jafar Panahi is among three new films open at the Irish Film Institute on the 29th of March 2019: Irish documentary 'The Man Who Wanted to Fly,' drama..
CPH:DOX 2019 :: Marie Skovgaard's The Reformist
Marie Skovgaard's fascination with the woman behind Europe's first mosque run by female imams is contagious. The opening title of this year's edition of CPH:DOX (20-31 March)..
'Beautiful Boy' :: Review
Beautiful Boy, made through Brad Pitt's production company Plan B, is a moving, insightful and very delicately observed drama about a dad whose son is a crystal meth addict. Carell gives his finest performance..
"I DO Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians"
[The film] makes clear that you can have all the right answers, but they hardly matter when you're missing the questions and in fact aren't even having the same conversation..
'The Eyes of Orson Welles'
Mark Cousins' extraordinary, singular, complex take on a man who gave us Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil, some of the most baroque screen adaptations of the Bard ever made..
Under the Tree (2018)
:: Movie Review

What makes 'Under the Tree' a better-than-average satire on the unthinking hostilities that human beings are prone to is its steady intelligence, combined with a humor ..
'Before We Vanish' (2018) :: Movie Review
What happens to people when they're no longer sure of their character-defining obligations? We get it, we are prisoners of our beliefs. What now?..
They Shall Not Grow Old :: Movie Review
In this profound documentary event, Peter Jackson creates digital miracles-in 3D yet-to revitalize archival footage of World War I until faded history comes to vivid, vital life..
'Capernaum' :: Movie Review
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki's Capernaum ("Chaos") tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the "crime" of giving him life..
The Kindergarten Teacher
:: Movie Review

Elevated by a bravura performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Kindergarten Teacher is one American remake that retains its impact the second time around..
'Synonyms' :: Movie Review'
Nadav Lapid's astonishing, maddening, brilliant, hilarious, obstinate, and altogether unmissable new film “Synonyms” opens with a sequence that might be described as a sideways attempt at psychic suicide..
BERLIN 2019 :: Competition
Roberto Saviano :: Author
Cineuropa met up with Italian author Roberto Saviano to discuss Piranhas, the newest adaptation of one of his novels. 'The more they want me to keep silent, the more I talk'..
'At Eternity's Gate' :: Review
There have been plenty of films about the tortured Dutch artist, but none as evocative and affecting as Julian Schnabel's latest, led by mesmerizing work from Willem Dafoe in the central role..
Shoplifters (2018) :: Review
“Shoplifters” is full of gray areas. What exactly does family mean? Does giving birth to someone automatically make you a mother? One of Kore-eda's most nuanced, layered examinations of the concept..
Hollywood's DiCaprio
has voiced his support for jailed Iranian environmentalists

In a tweet on February 6, DiCaprio calls for support for the eight Iranian detainees who went on trial last month, some facing serious..
BERLIN 2019 :: Lone Scherfig's film to open the Berlinale
The 69th Berlin International Film Festival has announced its opening film. The world premiere of Lone Scherfig's latest English-language film The Kindness of Strangers will..
The Panama Papers (2018)
The Panama Papers is a lively and level-headed exposé, but it's also a moral inquiry into how the top echelon is now united, structurally and spiritually, in robbing the rest of us blind..
Becoming Astrid :: Review
This film about an exemplary woman, made by women, is as much a pleasure as it is a lesson. A story that shows how overcoming turns to becoming if you're able to stick to your principles..
Gifted :: Movie Review
A man tries to raise the brilliant young daughter of his dead sister, but battles his mother over custody. Gifted isn't quite as bright as its pint-sized protagonist, but a charming cast wrings respectably engaging..
The Wife :: Movie Review
In Swedish director Bjorn Runge's film version of the 2003 Meg Wolitzer novel, the brilliant Glenn Close plays Joan Castleman, the wife of celebrated author Joe Castleman..
The Hours :: Movie Review
Three women, three times, three places. Three suicide attempts, two successful. All linked in a way by a novel. In Sussex in 1941, the novelist Virginia Woolf fills the pockets of her coat with rocks and walks into a river to..
Juliette Binoche Will Head The 2019 Berlinale Int. Jury
With French actress and Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche serving as Jury President, the International Jury will decide who will receive the Golden Bear and Silver..
Collette (2018)
Formally familiar but a brilliant match for its lead, Colette is a thoroughly entertaining biopic and an overdue testament to Keira Knightley's underrated gifts..
Julia (1977) :: Movie Review
Fascinating, well structured drama with Fonda and Redgrave at their best. "Julia" is the story of a fascinating woman, told from the point of view of someone who hardly knew her..
'Bad Times at the El Royale' Movie review
A piece of major studio entertainment so patient, artful, and thrilling that it might as well be a time machine to the mid-'90s...
'Bird Box' Review :: Susanne Bier's inventive drama
A welcome addition to the post-apocalyptic canon. If ever you find yourself trying to survive the end of the world, don't look to Malorie for an inspiring pep talk..
Claude Lelouch pays a final tribute to Francis Lai
Claude Lelouch brings honor to his "angel", French composer Francis Lai, who won an Oscar for the iconic "Love Story" soundtrack. He died on Wednesday November 7..
Roma (2018) :: Alfonso Cuarón's Masterpiece of Memory
In “Roma,” the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón uses a large canvas to tell the story of lives that some might think small..
Searching (2018) :: Movie Review
“Searching” follows a panicked father's online moves as he tries to track down his missing teenage daughter. It aims for and earns genuine emotion rather than cheap thrills..
CAIRO 2018 :: Bille August :: Director of A Fortunate Man
At the Cairo Film Festival, Cineuropa chatted to Bille August about his duties as head of the international jury and his latest feature, A Fortunate Man, which is screening at the gathering..
Bernardo Bertolucci Oscar Winner Dead at 77
Bernardo Bertolucci, the legendary Italian director behind classics such as “Last Tango in Paris” and “The Last Emperor,” has died at age 77..
Lars Mikkelsen wins international Emmy award
Lars Mikkelsen last night became the first ever Danish actor to win an international Emmy, picking up the gong at a lavish ceremony in New York..
Death in Tehran :: Murder In The Name Of God
On November 28, 1998, the couple, now well-known Iranian opposition politicians, are murdered in their home in Tehran. A touching film documentary by the German journalist..
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BEV chats to 'My Brother The Devil' writer-director Sally El Hosaini

It is safe to say that Sally El Hosaini is already the woman to watch out for in 2012. Her feature length debut My Brother the Devil – a beautiful and subtle study of what it means to be a young Arab man today in the East London borough of Hackney – has been wowing the judges at the winter film festivals.

Fresh from her successes at Sundance Festival and Berlinale 2012 – where My Brother The Devil won Europa Cinema’s award for “Best European Film” – Birds Eye Viewer Emily Vermont caught up with El Hosaini to talk about the freedom of fiction and those damn statistics.

Birds Eye View: Can you remember the first time you decided you’d make a film? Was it something you’d always dreamed of or did you suddenly ‘catch the bug’?

SALLY EL HOSAINI: As a kid I used to write a lot, mainly poetry and short stories.  I was also really into taking black and white photographs, but I hadn’t connected the two activities in my head.  The actual decision to make a film came when I was at university studying something entirely different.  I thought I’d messed up my life by not studying film.  In hindsight not going to film school was the best move I made!  It made me more determined to pursue filmmaking as a career.

Birds Eye View: You told the Guardian newspaper that you turned away from documentary film making because “you can be much more truthful in fiction.” Could you elaborate on this?

SALLY EL HOSAINI: I wasn’t making docs on my own terms, but instead for companies who were in turn selling them to TV channels.  The docs were formulaic and no matter how much I tried to avoid it, often sensationalist.  I also had some ethical dilemmas about the way they were being made and about “investigative journalism” in general.  I think the bottom line is that I’m not a journalist. I found that in fiction you can explore questions in a way that you can’t when you are limited by so called “facts”.  You can go deeper.  You can explore the emotional and the psychological dimensions of a story.  I’m suspicious of certainty anyway.  If you look at history, facts seem to change over time and reflect only the present consensus (if that).

BEV: How different were your research methods for My Brother… than those you would use for a documentary film?

SALLY EL HOSAINI: The research methods were similar.  Making contacts, building honest relationships of trust and entering new worlds.  Observing and listening.  I like to be a fly on the wall in the world I’m writing about.  It’s the only way I know how to make something truly authentic.
BEV: What was it that made you want to tell your latest story through the eyes of a male?

SALLY EL HOSAINI: I was spending a lot of time with groups of boys in a very macho world.  These boys put so much pressure upon themselves to be a “man”.  Their masculinity interested me and their homophobia appalled me.  A male character who is exploring his sexuality in this alpha-male world interested me.  As did the fact that to many Arabs they would rather have a son, a brother, who is a terrorist than gay.  I wanted to explore what it means to be a man to these boys.

BEV: You took part in Birds Eye View’s She Writes Lab (in partnership with Script Factory). Can you tell us a bit about it? What was the most important thing you learned from that experience?

She Writes was a screenwriting scheme for women to help readdress the awful statistic that only 12% of screenwriters in the UK are women.  Some people say there aren’t more women coming up in the industry because other women get jealous of them and won’t give them breaks.  I don’t think that’s the case AT ALL.  The scheme was an extremely encouraging and supportive environment.  I consider the other screenwriters on the scheme as friends and I’m genuinely happy about their successes.  The statistic that horrifies me even more is that only 6% of film directors in the UK are women.  I think it says a lot about British society as a whole.  There isn’t economic parity between the sexes and many of our industries are sexist. I’m often asked about the fact that I’m a woman directing a movie about men.  This irritates me because I’m a filmmaker before I’m a female filmmaker.  Many male directors, like Almodovar for example, can make movies about women without anybody reacting.

BEV: You not only directed but also wrote MBTD. How did this feel – did you find yourself re-writing as you went along?

SALLY EL HOSAINI: I never stopped rewriting the script for the five years it took to make the movie.  I was even rewriting while we were shooting. And then reconstructing the film in the edit.  They say that a film is never finished, only ever abandoned.  That’s definitely my experience.  There comes a moment when the time and money runs out and you’re forced to stop.  I’m too much of a perfectionist to ever be “done” at any stage of the process.  I’m always striving to make it better.

BEV: With your incredible success at Sundance and Berlin this year, 2012 is already a massive year for you. Do you feel your life changing? What has been the highlight of these past two months?

SALLY EL HOSAINI: The highlight has been finally making the movie and sharing it with audiences.  The critical success and reviews are wonderful in terms of my “career”, but the real buzz is when you know that your film has connected with ordinary people.  That’s the thing that makes all of the pain of making the movie suddenly seem worthwhile.  It’s what makes me want to do it all over again.

BEV: This must be the question on those movie moguls lips: do you have any other projects on the cards already?

SALLY EL HOSAINI: Of course.  You have to have a few projects on the go because it’s so hard to make a movie these days.  You can’t be certain which one will be “next”.  The one I’m currently most excited about is another London movie, but a completely different world to My Brother The Devil.

We are delighted that Sally El Hosaini will be a guest speaker at the Birds Eye View International Women’s Day Gala at the NFT1 BFI Southbank on March 8th.




Mainstream in Denmark, arthouse in the rest of the world
Susanne Bier • Director

by Birgit Heidsiek, Cineuropa

30/10/2012 - The Academy Award-winning Danish director Susanne Bier has gained a reputation for dramas such as Brothers, After the Wedding [trailer, film focus] and In A Better World [trailer]. In her new movie Love Is All You Need [trailer], she sends a cancer-suffering hairdresser on a turbulent, tragicomic trip to Italy. Love Is All You Need was presented as a world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and is being released in more than 20 countries.

Cineuropa: How do you create your authentic women characters?
Susanne Bier: The main female character was slightly built as a character on my mother. When Anders Thomas Jensen (scriptwriter) and me started talking if we should do a movie about cancer, we decided quite quickly we should do a romantic comedy because we didn‘t want to do a heavy-handed drama. We wanted to infuse the whole notion with some kind of hope. It was very obvious for me to look at my mother. She had breast cancer twice. She has always been this very positive, very optimistic person. Evenwhen she was feeling really bad she was talking about how nice the nurses are.

Your film is being sold as a romantic comedy. Do you agree with that?
The film has a lot of fun elements in it, but I wouldn‘t exactly call it a comedy. I have been wondering about it but I am not quite sure how I would sell it myself. According to the rules,a love story has to end badly and a romantic comedy ends well. So in that respect it is a romantic comedy. It is really hard to figure out what you do when you sell your film; if you do it right or wrong.

Do you accept any compromises as a film director?
I wouldn‘t do a cinematic compromise. But I would make other kind of compromises, for example with the titles. I much prefer the Danish title The Bald Hairdresser. I think that is a much more fun title. It comes directly to the whole issue of cancer and does it in a humorous way. But the reaction we got from all the distributors was that it would alienate the audience in their country. And there I feel I have to listen to what they say.

How do you deal with the dark humor of Anders Thomas Jensen?
Anders Thomas Jensen has a very black sense of humor, you can‘t make it more black. I really enjoy in it but I am probably also very romantic and tend to make his material more warm and emotional.

Is there a difference between the way how your films are perceived in Denmark and in the rest of the world?
Yes, in Denmark I am mainstream and in the rest of the world I seem to be arthouse. It is kind of funny. With In A Better World, I won a Golden Globe and I won European Best director and the Oscar but I wasn‘t even nominated for the Danish equivalent. There is a certain snobbishness, which is a little bit European. Things have to be a bit incomprehensible and really weird, then they are masterpieces. But I have a huge audience in Denmark. I actually believe that being able to tell a good substantial story which means something and having a big audience is what movies are for.

Why did you choose Pierce Brosnan for the male lead?
When the movie starts, the female character has lost everything. She has been ill, she has finsished treatment, she is terrified. The disease hasn‘t gone away. She has got no hair and only one breast. Her husband is having an affair with a beautiful blond at her daughter‘s age. You see this woman at this disastrous moment of her life. With whom do you think does she wants to end up? The man of her dreams would be like James Bond as a human being who has the charming surface but is actually a passionate, intense man.




Cristian Mungiu • Director of Beyond the Hills

by Domenico La Porta, 19/05/2012

Cristian Mungiu • DirectorThe Cannes Film Festival is well known for having launched and supported the career of many directors, and Cristian Mungiu is one of them. His Palme d'Or for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days has given rise to a new age in Romanian cinema and his latest work, 

Beyond the Hills [trailer, film focus], confirms his serious talent (read the review). He continues to refine it in the context of a national filmsector still in crisis, but it is one in which the Cannes Film Festival continues to believe, as shown by his selection for its 65th official competition.

What are the differences between this film and your last? 
Cristian Mungiu 
: I don't think it's good to compare this film with my last. To understand this film, you have to forget what I have done before, because I did not encounter the same problems in production or shooting, and I very simply wanted to tell a different kind of story. It's not a film about friendship like in my previous film, but rather one about love and what the abandonment of love provokes in us, in the choices we make.

Who are the real culprits in this film? 
The film shows us a victim, but the real culprits are not featured in this story. It's all the result of a weak educational system that was set up a long time ago and that is failing these people. What interests me is not denouncing the culprit. Choices are important. Are we always right to help others, even those we love? Do we really help them by imposing our values on them against their will? The man of faith thinks he is helping the girl, because no one else is helping her. He takes her to hospital, but the doctors can't help her and he interprets this failure as licence to decide her fate and the way she is treated. His acts correspond to his choices, but we don't really know if he was ever able to choose his beliefs or how he reached this way of life in the first place. No judgement.

Do you consider religion to be dangerous? 
I try not to criticise anybody. This film discusses particular cases. There is no generalisation, and I am not describing Romanian society through this little 
community. A film is not able to be so all-encompassing. Beyond the Hills is more about superstition than it is about religion. It is not an analysis of religion's perverse effects, and I am not saying that people's beliefs are the same as those of the Romanian orthodox church as an institution.

Could you tell us about Oleg Mutu's cinematography? 
I started to work with him when we were students. We didn't need to talk to each other a lot. We fixed a few things in the beginning, but not too much. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was very formal, but without a single angle and everything was very flat, pictorial onscreen. Here, when Oleg follows a character with his camera for eight minutes, there are moments in which what is filmed is not important, and the consciousness of what is happening takes over. Once again, the director removes himself, but this takes away none of Oleg Mutu's incredible talent without which I could not have attained this difficult result.

How has the Romanian film sector's financial crisis affected this film?
Our industry's problem is not funding, it's cultural. Films that are not entertainment are not popular in Romania. This is why we receive less 
money from the state for arthouse films, and why I had to look for international funding. My film will be seen much more abroad than it will be at home. That's just how it is. We have to hold on and continue to produce good quality films also aimed at the Romanian people.




2012 Cannes Film Festival award winners


2012 Cannes Film Festival announced the award winners tonight.

Responding to questions from journalists at the press conference that followed the closing ceremony, Nanni Moretti and his jurors readily commented on their selected winners.

In the preamble, the President of the Jury Nanni Moretti said that the jurors had got on particularly well together, that they had held eight meetings, and talked a lot about the films. He said that no film had been unanimously selected. Raoul Peck added that despite this, "everyone in their own way added to the opinions held by others" and that "somehow a middle ground was found". "We all stand by our selection", he said.

Nanni Moretti thanked his jurors one by one: "Ewan McGregor for his sincerity, Hiam Abbas for her passion, Jean-Paul Gaultier for his good humour that makes him the ideal audience member, Diane Kruger for her determination, Emmanuelle Devos for her kindness, Raoul Peck for his competence and his culture, Andrea Arnold for her enormous energy, and Alexander Payne for his knowledge of cinematic history."

Nanni Moretti has also shared a personal reflection: "In this Competition, the filmmakers seemed more in love with their style than with their characters".

When questioned on the choice of Post Tenebras Lux for the Award for Best Director, but also on the absence of Holy Motors among the award winners, Nanni Moretti said that three films had particularly divided the Jury: Post Tenebras Lux, Holy Motors, Paradise: Love. "We didn't think it was right to look for unanimity and we had a lot of discussions. In the end, the first was awarded a prize, but not the other two." Andrea Arnold was among the defenders of Post Tenebras Lux. She spoke of "a brave, tender, loving film, that faces life and its fragility." Raoul Peck added, "this film really touched me emotionally and intellectually. I've rarely seen images with such force, such freedom, such sincerity. It connects us with the problems of today: being in a couple, love, children, the lack of communication, and also class struggle, with rare strength, and all this with incredible poetry."

Regarding the Award for Best Actor, Ewan McGregor spoke of "a subtle performance", while Nanni Moretti said that "the tension felt throughout the film owes as much to the direction as the lead actor." On this subject he added that several jurors would have liked to have awarded prizes to the actors in Love, but it was not permitted by regulations: the three main prizes - the Palme d’Or, the Award for Best Director and the Grand Prix- must not be associated with an acting award.

Finally, a reporter noted that no prize was awarded to any of the seven American In Competition films, and asked if that was a reflection on the state of American cinema. "It's a film festival, it's not about giving awards to a particular country, but of choosing from among the selected films. It would be incorrect to generalise on the choice that has been made", said Alexander Payne.

Winners of Cannes 2012:

Palme d'Or (Best Film): Love (Austria) by Michael Haneke

Grand Prix (Runner-up): Reality (Italy) by Matteo Garrone

Jury Prize (Third Prize): The Angels' Share (Britain) by Ken Loach

Camera d'Or (Debut Film): Beasts of the Southern Wild (U.S.) by Benh Zeitlin

Best Director: Carlos Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux (Mexico)

Best Screenplay: Beyond the Hills (Romania), Cristian Mungiu

Best Actress: Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, Beyond the Hills

Best Actor: Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt


Press Conference with the Award Winners
After the presentation of the awards at the the closing ceremony, the award winners met for a press conference. One by one, they answered questions from  journalists. Excerpts.

Michael Haneke, winner of the Palme d'or for Love (Amour): The story I tell is based on the promise my wife and I made to each other: not to separate in a situation like the one in the film. We see that all the time and it is a widespread problem. I experienced it in my own family and that is what pushed me to make the film Love.

Matteo Garrone, winner of the Grand Prix for Reality: I have not read much of what has been written. It was a surprise for me because I know there were many beautiful films. The Competition was tough but I am very happy because the Grand Prix will help the film to reach a wider audience.

Ken Loach, winner of the Jury Prize for The Angels' Share: We realized that if we spent time with people like the ones in the film, they have such optimism that it makes us happy. To speak truthfully about things, you have to present them in the form of comedy.

Cristian Mungiu, Best Screenwriter for Beyond the Hills: I am very happy to have this award, a little surprised because it is the longest film in the Competition. I kept on changing the dialogues, the actresses helped me a lot, we tried to give it a continuity.

Carlos Reygadas, Best Director for Post Tenebras Lux: My work comes from the desire to create, to share, to find fraternity in the world with you. I was asked if I was not sad because many people did not like my film. For many filmmakers, the goal is to please. That is not my goal. Mine is to be able to express myself with absolute freedom and to be able to leave someone with something.

Mads Mikkelsen, Best Actor: It was a big moment for me and for the film. One cannot be a good actor in a mediocre film. During my stay, I didn't have a chance to see other films, but there is a lot of work to do in Cannes! Put me in the Jury and I will come to see films!

Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, Best Actress: The rhythm is different in film; after two months of shooting, here we are with this award, it’s incredible.

Benh Zeitlin, winner of the Caméra d’or for Beasts Of the Southern Wild: For almost everyone who contributed to the film, it was their first film. We had worked very hard on small projects, short films in the past. We wanted to make this with friends, as a family. You never know, when you make a film, that success could come like this.

L. Rezan Yesbilas, winner of the Palme d'or - Short Film for Silent: It was amazing to be there, even before the ceremony. This is the second time that Turkey has won a Palm.




The German-Iranian filmmaker reflects on the impact his taut political documentary, The Green Wave, has made on the Middle East.

In June 2009 hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to dispute the result of the country’s presidential election, which many believed had been rigged by the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

What followed was a violent crackdown, evidence of which leaked out through social networking sites.

German-Iranian Ali Samadi Ahadi’s film, The Green Wave, which had its UK premiere at last month’s Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, brings together fractured pieces of footage filmed on mobile phones and testimony from bloggers in the country to document the brutality.

A mixture of news reports, animation and interviews, the film uses the emergence of social networks – which were pivotal in the propagation of the unrest – to mitigate the difficulties inherent in making a documentary in a context where journalists were expelled or imprisoned and information was under the control of the government. LWLies spoke with Ahadi recently about the film’s impact both at home and abroad.

LWLies: The Green Wave takes a very close-up view of events in Iran, which you were at the time quite distant from. How did you come to make the film?
Ahadi: When the elections took place in Iran, like other Iranians outside of Iran I was watching what was going on in the country. I was shocked and paralysed because of this brutality and the violence which we were facing.

After three months of being too shocked to be able to do anything, I wanted to do something. Not only to react but also to take action.

And because I am a filmmaker, I decided to make a film. We asked Associated Press to help us with their footage. This is a big part of our material.

And then we collected images which were shared on the internet, and we used images that we collected inside Iran and smuggled out of the country.

But all of these images were not able to tell the whole story, because they had mostly not a beginning, not an end, like broken puzzles.

We had to find a way to bring them together, because they had no protagonists, so we had to find a way to weave them to each other and that was the reason why I decided to use blogs and Twitter messages to bring all these things together.

I never think in genres and I never think in the way of tools. I find that if I get the subject, I try to understand how this subject can be told through me.

I try to collect all my tools and play around with them until I find a way of how I can tell the story.

A natural criticism of this style of documentary making is surely that you are bringing together a lot of very subjective evidence and trying to make it into an honest narrative.
It is a very subjective way of talking about the issue. We don’t have to lie to our audience and say we know the truth, and we have the whole truth and we are objective. I don’t believe that.

I believe in complete subjectivity. We don’t need to hide ourselves because it is subjective. It is very important to make it clear that it is our point of view, we have this opinion.

I think even journalistic pieces – mine is not journalistic – are subjective, and we know that. We know that it is not true when journalists say ‘we are objective’.

It is the same with the blogs and images we use. I read more than 1,500 pages of blogs and chose only 15 of them.

You can’t believe how often people talked about the same situation from different sides of the same place and the same momentum from different perspectives.

The same is with images. There is a moment in the film, where a Basij [militiaman] is on the roof of a building, shooting into a crowd of people, and we have it from more than 10 cell phone cameras from 10 different perspectives.

[President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad would say “these are not in Iran and these are from somewhere else”, but to be honest, we know that these things took place.
Maybe there are images which are not true, but this is not important. I’m not saying that we are showing the whole truth, I am saying that what is important is that we are able to say these things are true or not true, and no one will harm you.

In Iran if you would say that Ahmadinejad is a liar, they would arrest you or kill you. This is important, and not the evidence of this image or this blog. What is important is that you have the freedom to talk about it. And this is something that is much more important.

This is the bigger point. We tried our best to keep the evidence high, to double check the images, to double check the blogs. But even if there is a failure there, I think the much more important point is being able to talk with freedom.

I think even if you are a journalist, the only controlling system which really works every time is your own inner voice. My teacher when I was a student said to me you can do anything, but never forget the conversation with your inner voice.

Which is very true – you can make out of this footage 100 different films. Against and pro-Ahmadinejad. Where is the controlling mechanism? It is only you.
This was one striking feature of the revolutions that have taken place in the Middle East in the past few months – that they are not really political in the sense that they aren’t calling for one regime to be replaced by another, they are really just asking for representation.

In the film this comes out – people were not really going out to vote because they wanted [opposition leader] Mir-Hossein Mousavi to win – they were going out because they want to be heard.

I think we are going through a moment in the Near and Middle East the ideological regimes are coming to an end. People are sick and tired of either the religious ideology or socialism and communism.

They don’t care about that. Young people in Egypt, or in Iran, or in Yemen, or in Bahrain, are able to go to the internet and Google you and look how you live, and they ask themselves, ‘Why is this person able to live in that way and I am not?’

We are both human beings, but why can he talk freely and I can’t? They are not looking for ideologies, they are looking for human rights, which makes the big difference between these movements and the movements 20, 30, 40 years ago?
Has the moment for change passed in Iran? Is the regime there not better able to control this message the second time around.
It has not passed. I think Iranian society made a big development in the last 18 months, or 20 months after the election. They started asking, ‘Where is my vote?’, for a recount of the ballots, for re-election. Now they clearly talk about system change.

This is a big development. And this is not a minority that is talking about change, this is the majority. It needs really a blitz to explode the whole thing. It is like a desert.

When the first rain falls down, the earth is really hard and the rain can’t penetrate the soil, but with time, when the rain continues, the soil becomes soft and the water can penetrate.
The existence of so many recorded perspectives on every event has changed – as you have said – the monopoly that governments can have on information. Has it changed the way that documentary filmmakers record these events?
I think so. When we started to make this film, I had no idea what it would look like, because I don’t know of any films that have been made in that way. I thought it is bungee jumping without a bungee, pure risk.

I think really that these instruments make our business, filmmaking, much more democratic, much more open. We are not dependent on broadcasters. We are not dependent on the permission of countries like Iran to be able to make images.

And we are not dependent that much on money. If you see what we made with really horrible, small, bad quality images. We screen it on 70 square metres in theatres, and it works. I think it really changed, fundamentally, filmmaking.

Especially in countries which are under pressure. I think that there is now more democracy in filmmaking, because you can get a direct connection to your audience. It will change our language, I think. The language of filmmaking.




William Shimell talks about Certified Copy, a film by Abbas Kiarostami

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Cerified Copy, the latest Abbas Kiarostami film will be on US screens soon and to learn more about this film, we interviewed William Shimell, the actor of the film.

William Shimell made his screen acting debut alongside Juliette Binoche in Abbas Kiarostami’s Copie Conforme (Certified Copy), in competition at Cannes Festival 2010. Born in 1952, he is one of Britain's most accomplished operatic baritones and has earned himself an international reputation in the world's leading opera houses.
William is well known for his interpretations of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which he first sang in Britain for Welsh National Opera and ENO, and has since sung in opera houses throughout the world. He has recorded the role for EMI with Riccardo Muti.

His reputation has been further enhanced by his worldwide performances of Marcello in La Bohème, as Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress, as Sharpless in Madame Butterfly, as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and as Dourlinski in Cherubini's Lodoïska at La Scala, which was recorded live for Sony.

In 2005 William took the title role in Handel’s Hercules in a Luc Bondy production which was filmed for broadcast and DVD release. He is also much in demand on the concert platform, appearing at a range of venues including the Orange Festival in France, and recording performances with the likes of Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Chailly.

Certified Copy  is the story of a meeting between one man and one woman, in a small Italian village in Southern Tuscany. The man is a British author who has just finished giving a lecture at a conference. The woman, from France, owns an art gallery. This is a common story that could happen to anyone, anywhere.

Bijan Tehrani: How were you first introduced to Certified Copy?
William Shimell: I was working with Abbas Kiarostami in the south of France at the opera Festival, where he was directing 2 years ago. Abbas asked me if I had ever been in a film and I said no and then he asked me if I would be interested in being in a film, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I though that maybe he is asking me to do a line or two or maybe just be on the background and sing but that was not what he had in mind at all.

BT: Did you read the script before getting involved with Certified Copy?
WS: I read the script before going to the shoot yes, but not before I accepted and signed the contract, basically I wanted to work with Abas and it would not have mattered what he proposed. I enjoyed the experience of working with him in France so much that I was very interested in working with him again whether it is with a film or any other project. The first version of the script I saw had been translated from Farsi into French and then from French into English; so after going through two translations in two languages it was almost incomprehensible, I think that the person who translated it from French to English did not do a very good job. Abbas and his assistant Massoumeh Lahidji did actually work very hard on the script to get it to what we eventually worked with.

BT: How did you communicate with Abbas and was there any difficulty with the language barrier?
WS: No, his assistant Massoumeh Lahidji is an astonishing translator and Abas English is not that bad. He can certainly make himself understood and one of the reasons why I enjoyed working with him is that I had a very good grip on what he was saying. When you work in Opera there is no real barrier in the language at all.

BT: When was the first time that you were exposed to Abbas work and when did you begin watching his films?
WS: To be honest I had never heard of him and I usually don’t go to the cinema, I have two young children and the only time that I go to the cinema is when I take my children to see films that young children like to see.  Otherwise I am not a film buff. When I was told that Abbas would be directing the opera I did a little homework just to see what I was going to be going up against. As a result I saw some of his films; I find them quite difficult I must say.

BT: How difficult was it to work in Certified Copy?
WS: It was horrifically difficult for me because I really did not know what I was doing; sometimes opera companies make  video operas for their own purposes or for DVD, but I am an opera singer and not really an actor so I did not know what I was doing really, it was hard. As far as the character that I was playing and story in the film I concentrated on each scene as I came to it and it wasn’t until the film was put together that I really had an idea of what the result would be.

BT: How much freedom did Abbas give you in terms of his direction?
WS: He is used to working with none actors and he has a very light hand when he directs and he tries not intimidate.  Especially with someone like me who is put I this situation and being in front of the camera, so I was never really aware that I was being directed; but Abbas still had a way of getting what he wanted.

BT: Describe working with Juliette Binoche?
WS: Well it was an enormous privilege to work with such a talented person and she was extraordinarily helpful and encouraging throughout the whole process really and I don’t know how I could have done it without her or everyone else’s help. One of the thing that surprised me was how open and eager everyone was to help out and work with someone who was inexperienced.

Did you do any study or research of the character that you were playing prior to the shoot? 
WS: Well I read and learnt the script, but I’m an opera singer and I am used to searching out the character from the words and the orchestra score from the music that is usually where the character is hidden in opera. I didn’t have that in this film so I had to focus more on what the character said and use what few tools I had in my experiences in opera; the dialogue has to be from within you and form your own experience and from your own personality.

BT: Did you have a chance to change the dialogue to your liking?
WS: We worked to try to make the dialogue sound as natural to an Englishman as I could, because I was the only English person working on the project.

BT: How much do you think that the location meant to Certified Copy?
WS: When people see the film they we see that the star is Juliette and the co-star is the Italian countryside. The atmosphere of Italian countryside and the colors of the buildings, of the sky and the Tuscan countryside paint such a vivid picture.  They really help shape the emotional structure in the film. What this film did do is give me a great deal of respect for film actors and I enjoyed making the film and it was a huge pleasure and privilege.

BT: Do you plan to be in another film in the future?
WS: I would love another  try and I had such a fascinating try and when you get to my age it is not often that you get the opportunity to try something different and I would love to learn some more.




Leila HatamiBerlin film review: "Nader and Simin, a Separation"

Posted Thursday, February 24, 2011 12:54:05 PM

-- Just when it seemed impossible for Iranian filmmakers to express themselves meaningfully outside the bounds of censorship, Asghar Farhadi’s Nader and Simin, A Separation comes along to prove the contrary.

Apparently simple on a narrative level yet morally, psychologically and socially complex, it succeeds in bringing Iranian society into focus for in a way few other films have done.

Like About Elly (2009), which won Asghar Farhadi the best director award at Berlin two years ago and which went on to find release in many territories, it has the potential to engage Western audiences with the right handling.

Politics are ostensibly out of the picture, though the whole premise is based on a middle-class couple’s divorce because the wife Simin (Iranian star Leila Hatami) wants to move abroad to find a better future for their 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). But that may not be the real reason for the separation.

Asghar FarhadiNader (Peyman Moaadi, seen in About Elly) is a decent man but a stubborn one, and he neglects his wife. Too proud to ask her to stay with him, he lets her move back to her mother’s place while he and Termeh are left to look after his aged father with Alzheimer’s disease. He hastily hires a poor woman named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) as a daytime caretaker, who signs on without telling him she’s pregnant (or does she?).

A few days later he fires her and shoves her out the door; she falls on the stairs (perhaps) and has a miscarriage. The rest of the film is a crescendo of tension as Razieh’s hot-headed, debt-ridden husband Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini) takes Nader to court for manslaughter.

continue on




We are honored to invite you to participate in the:

Iranian documentary Film Festival - Malmö | Sweden | Saturday 19 February 2011

If you are interested in contributing to the festival with your film please send your film to us. The deadline for receiving films is 15th February 2011. We have special sections for productions from amateurs, pupils and students.

For more information please contact us: 

Web site:

or you can call us.

The phone number is:
0046 40 611 8585
 0045 2325 2218

The following organizations contribute to arrange the festival:
Seven Arts Association

Persian Social Democratic Association




Who’s afraid of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof?

By Vera Mijojlic

"Cinema Without Borders is establishing an Open Page for Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof as an on-going, action-oriented commentary about the jailing of the filmmakers in Iran. The Page will remain open until Mr. Panahi and Rasoulof are freed, and free to make movies of their choice.

Film critic Vera Mijojlic is our first contributor. Cinema Without Borders invites readers, filmmakers, critics, supporters, and friends of international cinema to submit their comments and keep this Page active until Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof are freed".

First the physical jail for the body, then post-incarceration ban on the mind, heart and soul; wow. Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof are dangerous men alright. We got that. Compared to their predicament, Solzhenitsyn’s gulag years do not even compare.  After all Mr. Solzhenytsin was able to continue with his subversive creative activities. The two Iranian filmmakers are apparently  bigger threat to their homeland of more than 70 million people. Over there they seem to be trembling with fear at the sight of them. No small feat for a country of considerable military and spiritual might. So maybe we should investigate this affair a little bit deeper and find out who else might be so afraid that no other path was open to Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof but the one-way to jail, both here on Earth and within the more eternal realms of the future as well.

Both were found guilty of treason, disloyalty to their country, bent on telling stories for which they must have known would land them in trouble. To add insult to injury neither filmmaker wanted to flee to a nice country like say France and seek artistic asylum for their tortured souls. Instead they opted to stay put in Iran where they called to task its very solemn government. They made their government look bad, and expected clemency! What insolence on the part of Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof. They should have known that one doesn’t fool around with people who don’t have any sense of humor. Iranian leaders are somber, serious men, busy with policing a massive populace of restive compatriots. They have already made a mistake in letting a whiff of democracy blow through their heretofore closely controlled elections which led to a thing called hope in the person of an opposition candidate whom the two filmmakers may, for all we know, have supported or, insolent as they are, encouraged with their movies. Ah, the magic of moviemaking!

Democracy, as we have all learned during the past decade, can be a real nuisance. It is understandable that Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof saw no big advantage in fleeing to the West ruled by the leaders of the free world whose claim to fame rests in the ruins of their own populace through ingenious economic instead of crude police measures. Sensitive as artists tend to be, Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof probably saw no advantage in washing ashore west of their homeland as poor refugees hoping to make a beer commercial to sustain themselves.

No, they chose to stay in their country and defy its rulers.

And rulers like rulers eventually had enough. The united voice of these two filmmakers was one opposition voice too many. The more I think about it, the more I understand why Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof had to go to jail for all our sakes. Times are tough, and we have enough on our hands to deal with in their part of the world. Who has the time to continue messing with this case where no Western politician stands to gain anything?

Indeed, who? Who is left to keep Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof in our collective consciousness?

One is immediately thinking of the media. Yes, of course, the media! Surely, the media will do that. There are infinitely more news outlets today than ever before. But there is also a vast amount of news to digest. And as a consequence, whether we like it or not, we have grown numb, deaf, and indifferent because we have seen it all already, every single detail of human existence many times over. We have been given front row seats in the theater where punishing light was shed on every pitiful world leader, rebel, criminal, sociopath or genius alike. Everyone finally got their 15 minutes of fame, and quickly found out that without upping the ante forever, every single day, with another piece of news, whether real or engineered….if we stop broadcasting .....well, we then fall into the abyss of obscurity and non-existence. Our 15-minute lifetime span is up. Next!

And where do Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof feature in all this? This may sound harsh to you (after all, the men are in jail), but their time in our news cycle has been up for about a week now. Meanwhile fresh stories from around the world keep pouring in, the New Year according to the Gregorian calendar has just started, and one can always count on North Korea to provide the most entertaining and media-friendly content. Plus, too many calls for justice and petitions from human and animal rights groups and concerned citizens over the past media-heavy decade have had the same age-old effect on us as the shepherd who cried wolf too many times had on the villagers …. when it finally mattered, no one came.


What is one to do when the wish for information abundance comes true, as it has in our lifetime? Who knew that once we ‘got the knowledge’ about everything under the sun we’d grow weak, complacent, drained of attention and filled mostly with curiosity about the shiny objects of media desires, like indigenous people once were of glass beads, and rendered just as powerless and as easily manipulated?

For all I know Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof might have been jailed to serve another purpose, as chips in a future political bargain that we are not yet privy to between the “West” and the “East”. I have never met either one and who knows, both might be an unpleasant sort. Artists tend to be difficult people. But I asked myself, what if someone I knew, someone talented and in the prime of his or her creative life, someone whose future films I want to see, someone who can give me something to look forward to beyond the trashy headlines, what if someone like that got jailed? I’d be mad as hell!!!!

Perhaps, let’s face it, you’d be too – if it was your friend?

Do we wait for someone else to raise hell? And who, may I ask, is that someone else, precisely?

The quickly congealing media silence is cementing Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof further and further away. If they are being robbed of their future films, then I am robbed of experiencing them. If they do not get another chance at freedom, then I am poorer for one too. They did not murder anyone, or commit a crime for which they should be kept away from us. They made movies, problematic for the rulers of their country perhaps, but that’s the rulers’ problem, not theirs. We are free to critique their craft of film making, but we overstep our boundaries when we silence people for their thoughts, and in this case even future thoughts. Thoughts and stories and movies that are yet to come.

It is all too easy to blame everything on politicians and autocratic governments. Where are we in all this? To whom exactly do we transfer our responsibility when we grow tired of a news story? Ultimately, what is the meaning of ‘speaking up’ in the global entertainment circus?

The question we are faced with is not just the jailing of two filmmakers, but also the media death of the story. The encroaching silence that comes with diminishing media coverage, leading to indifference and ultimately forgetting.

In John Schlesinger’s “Marathon Man” Laurence Olivier famously kept asking Dustin Hoffman, “Is it safe?”

I guess it never really is, as Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof have already found out. There is no such thing as safety, so get over it. I am not afraid of whatever it is that I am supposed to be afraid of in a world so thoroughly infused with fear.  Are you?

JAFAR PANAHI, b. 1960, is one of the leading directors of the Iranian New Wave. He won praise and international acclaim with his films “The White Balloon”, “Crimson Gold” and “Offside” among others. He was in and out of jail in 2010 until December, when he was convicted of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and of undermining its national security. He was sent to jail for 6 years, and banned from making films, writing screenplays, giving interviews or leaving the country for the next 20 years after that. If his sentence stands, he will be 76 years old when he gets another chance at making movies.

MOHAMMAD RASOULOF, b. 1972,  gained international recognition with his first feature-length docudrama "Gogooman" (2002). His other films include multiple award-winner "Iron Island", as well as “The White Meadows”, and "Head Wind", a documentary about the restrictions currently imposed in Iran on using satellites and internet. He was also in and out of jail throughout 2010 and in December sentenced and sent to jail under the same terms as Jafar Panahi.

To comment, add your name to the Cinema Without Borders “Open Page for Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof”, Please email us at and for post your comments in the same article in CWB BLOGS.



Fakhri Khorvash IFF
Iranian Film Festival Honors Fakhri Khorvash

Veteran Iranian actress Fakhri Khorvash will be honored for her lifetime achievements during the Iranian Film Festival, which will be held in San Francisco on September 18 and 19.The ceremony has been arranged to honor her 50-year career in Iranian stage and screen.

Fakhri Khorvash, a star of Iranian intellectual theater for a few decades, has also been acting in movies since 1958. She has worked with several well-known Iranian filmmakers such as Bahman Farmanara and Dariush Mehrjui.

Fakhri Khorvash appeared for the first time in 1958 Sadegh Bahrami’s “Bohloul” and her last part in a movie was in Bahman Farmanara’s A Little Kiss (yek booseh khuchulu) in 2005.

Iranian Film Festival will screen Shazde Ehtejab (1974) as part of honoring ceremony for Fakhri Khorvash. Shazde Ehtejab that is based on book with the same title by Hooshang Golshiri, is directed by Bahman Farmanara.

Cinema Without Borders will soon publish its exclusive interview with Fakhri Khorvash.




Enemies Of the People

"Enemies Of the People", which won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury prize at Sundance 2010, and a dozen other international Festival awards, still awaits permission for a national theatrical release from the Ministry Of Culture and Arts of Cambodia.

Cambodian reporter Thet Sambath and British documentarian Rob Lemkin collaborated on the exceptional "Enemies Of The People."

Sambath, whose family were killed in the "killing fields" of the Khmer Rouge, spent a decade patiently wooing a friendship with Khmer Rouge second in command, Nuon Chea AKA "Brother Number Two." Years into his freelance assignment, Thet Sambath met Brit filmmaker Rob Lemkin, who was on a research trip to Cambodia during the 2006 Khmer Rouge Trials. Dedicated Sambeth repeatedly visited Nuon Chea and other interviewees gaining their trust. These weekend trips to the countryside nearly destroyed his family life.

Smiling patiently as he listens to harrowing truths, Sambath never reveals that his family members were Kymer rouge victims, lest he lose the participant's stories. “I think only the killers can tell us the truth, why they killed the people and who ordered them to kill,” explains his narration, which reveals a Buddhist compassion as well as a tenacious digging for the truth. Peasant soldiers were forced to kill or face execution themselves. An uneasy interviewee smiles at the camera as he demonstrates the throat cutting style he was taught and used on hundreds of bound victims.

No amount of archival footage can match the power of this astounding documentary. What began as a investigation, seeking the justice that revealing the truth can bring, becomes over time, a lesson in forgiveness as Sambeth finds himself oddly concerned for the ailing Nuon Chea, once he's arrested to face War Crime trials.

Ten years of visits wears down Chea's defenses. The now frail 83-year-old tyrant, known as the ideological leader of the genocidal regime, at first denies knowledge of the local level assassinations. Eventually he acknowledges that the rural mass murders were policy handed down from the top. Sambath reveals that all his family was killed and Nuon Chea apologizes. This is the unique time that a high level Kymer Rouge accepted responsibility for the extensive war crimes. (Pol Pot died in 1998.)

Interviews with victim's relatives, peasants who point out where the bodies lay in the now tranquil countryside, and low-level participants in the army massacres add some additional color, but it is the final resolution with Chea that gives the film it's dramatic force.

Durin 2009 the ECCC tried Comrade Duch, charged with the deaths of over 20,000 prisoners. He will serve an additional 19 years in prison for his 'Crimes Against Humanity". Nuon Chea (Brother Number 2) and three other senior Khmer leaders, charged with genocide, are awaiting trial.

Originally reviewed at SBFF, 2010. Opens August 26- Laemmle Music Hall.




Rapping in Tehran

Hassan Khademi , the Iranian director of Rapping in Tehran, is a graduate with MA of Arts from University of Tehran and has conducted several research projects about Iranian underground music.

Hassan khademi's short film, Rapping in Tehran,  has participated in several international film festivals such as International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival and Peace on Earth Film Festival-Chicago.

Cinema Without Borders:
How did you come up with the idea of Rapping in Tehran?
Hassan Khademi: I am a social researcher and I have conducted research in the field of Iranian youths and also young subcultures in Iran and I’ve written some papers about them. During my research, I found that Persian rap is the most popular music style among young Iranians. I should say that Persian rap is something more than a music genre; it is a social phenomenon.

CWB: How challenging was it to shoot this film? Did you face any problems and limitations?
HK: Since underground music is illegal in Iran and underground singers, mostly Persian rappers, sometimes may face legal repercussions, these groups are not easily accessible and it is actually very difficult to find them. It took me 5 months until I could convince them to take part in my film.

CWB: Did you know all the bands and performers beforehand, or you did you get to know them over the shooting period?
HK: Before the shooting period, I had studied about all the important Persian rappers and I had listened to most of their works. During creation of the film I got to meet with them and made friendships which still last to this day.

CWB: How did you manage gain the trust of the artists performing in Rapping in Tehran?
HK: It was such a difficult job! The artists were particular in how they were filmed because they all feared of getting identified by the police, which would be troublesome for them. We tried to accommodate all of their requests to ensure their safety and peace of mind.

CWB: Did you have a visual style in mind when you started “Rapping in Tehran”, or would you say that your vision came through in post-production?
HK: I had a screenplay before shooting. But, like most documentary films, the events which happened during shooting changed the story of the film. For example, my film ends with the unwanted exile of some of the pioneering Persian rappers while, at the beginning, I hadn’t prospected this event. I can say my film was produced during the editing process.

CWB: Were there any of the artists that did now allow you to have them in Rapping in Tehran and were there any scenes that you liked that you had to remove from the final-cut?
HK: In this film, I went to the most talented Persian rappers, and the most important ones were ready to cooperate with me. A couple of them said they would only participate if I agreed to exclude other rappers because of their competition; a condition that I didn’t accept.
In terms of film scenes, I should say I loved some of them but I had to omit them because they didn’t correlate with the main story or they would create trouble for the rappers.

CWB: How did the artists react after seeing Rapping in Tehran?
HK: The musicians who have watched the film are very pleased. They are happy to be portrayed in a positive light and they enjoy how they are represented.

CWB: What is the current state of Iranian underground music and how do you see its future?
HK: Underground music is the most popular music genre amongst Iranian youths. My recent survey, which I conducted for a government organization in Iran, has confirmed my research results and also verified my understanding about underground Persian rap during the shooting period.
It is difficult to foresee the future of this genre, but it is obvious for me that Persian rap in Iran is not the cause, but it is the effect. It doesn’t matter if the effect is Persian rap or anything else, as long as the cause is still there.

CWB: Are you working on any new projects?
HK: Yes. I am in the research period of a film about Iranian clergies.

CWB: How can interested individuals watch Rapping in Tehran?
HK: Although my film cannot get permission to be shown in Iran, I have shown it in private gatherings with students, teachers and other Iranian elites—even to some cultural policy makers of the Iranian government. (An Interview with Cinema Without Borders)




"No one Knows About Persian Cats, showed me a new way of looking at art" 

-- Bahman Ghobadi

No one Knows About Persian Cats
is the story of two young musicians that have recently been released from prison and decide to form a band. Together they search the underworld of contemporary Tehran for other players. Forbidden by the authorities to play in Iran, they plan to escape from their clandestine existence, and dream of performing in Europe. But with no money and no passports, it won’t be easy...

Bahman Ghobadi, director of No One Knows About Persian Catswas born on February 1st, 1969, in Baneh, a city near the Iran-Iraq border, in the province of Kurdistan, Iran. After receiving his high school diploma from Sanandaj, he moved to Tehran in 1992 to further his studies. Ghobadi began his artistic career in the field of industrial photography. Although he earned a B.A. in Film Directing from the Iranian Broadcasting College, he never properly graduated, believing that he learned more by making short films than by formal study. His direct experience with film helped him to expand his individualistic voice and his vision of the world he inhabited. He initially used 8mm film, shooting short documentaries as a starting point. From the mid-1990s on, Ghobadi’s short films began to receive foreign and domestic awards. LIFE IN FOG ("the most famous documentary ever made in the history of Iranian cinema") in particular was the recipient of a number of international prizes and opened new opportunities in Ghobadi’s career. With the making of his debut feature, A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES in 1999, Ghobadi became fully recognized as an international director. The first full-length Kurdish feature film in the history of Iranian cinema, it firmly established Ghobadi as the leading Kurdish director from Iran.

Bijan Tehrani: How did you first encounter the story of No One Knows About Persian Cats?
Bahman Ghobadi: Three years ago I wanted to shoot a project called Thirty Seconds about Us. I didn’t get the permission for making that film and therefore I was very disappointed and I was looking for a solution for making a project that would help me overcome the disappointment that I had. I am a filmmaker and I had no other way but to make a film and just before saying goodbye to my crew and letting go because my project had failed, I decided that I would go to an underground music studio and record my songs and music and I would try to do some artistic work that way. When I went to record my music, there I met these Iranian underground musicians and I was amazed while learning about their goals; they opened up a new window for me. It showed me a new way of looking at art and a new way of being an artist, they gave me the courage and the bravery to know that I don’t have to wait in order to get permission to make a film, I don’t have to wait to go and get a budget; I could make a project about ideas such as underground Iranian music without a budget or permission. This way of filmmaking would allow me to go after ideas and subjects that we were not even allowed to get close to or even make a film about them. It became bigger than music, because there are so many problems and issues that are forbidden to talk about. I wanted to try an urban movie, making a movie in the city and about the city life.

BT: No One Knows About Persian Cats shows a new picture of Iran, we see a face of Iran that we have not seen before in any Iranian films.
BG: That’s quite true. At the Cannes Film Festival, everyone called this a new wave in Iranian cinema when they saw this film. I was hearing a lot of comments like that in the places that the film was showing, Iranians were coming to me after the film and telling me that they never knew that anything like this existed in Iran. As I mentioned, this whole thing was a gift given to me by underground Iranian musicians that actually let me find a new way of telling a story which was different than the other movies that I had worked on. Also, in this film I showed a whole new face of the capitol of Iran, this was also because of the subject of the film which allowed me to show this face of the city.

BT: I wanted to know, among the characters in the film, if they are real characters or fictional ones.
BG: Every character, every group, every location; everything in the film is real—nothing is fiction in this film. Before we started this film, we had conducted interviews with the characters that you see in the film. We used all of the comments and all of the real stories of the characters and musicians in order to build this screenplay. Every scene of the film that you see with a band is a result of conversations with the real members of that band, their experiences and all of the things that have happened to them. Every single event in the film, everything that happens to every character is based on real stories.

BT: Something that is amazing to me is how brave the characters in the film are; that despite the circumstances in their country, they openly come out to participate in this type of film. Were they not scared of the consequences that could possibly follow?
BG: I just got a little bit of my bravery from these guys: they are really, really brave. The film is limited to the bands who participated, but there are thousands of bands in Tehran only playing music. But my film is an hour and a half and there was no chance of showing all of the bands. Even if I had filmed all of them, it would have been a messy project. When the bands that I shot got in front of the camera, they are just playing music; they are not saying anything that would cause trouble for them. They are protesting through their music in a very calm and polite manner, in a peaceful manner. When we were about to finish the film, the two main characters, Negar and Ashkan, told us that they were about to leave Iran in twenty days, and we based our story on the real struggles of this young girl and young boy who had been in jail because of their music. After they leave the jail, they put a band together and leave the country; their goal was to leave Iran and go to a place where they have more freedom to play and record music without restriction, they would then come back to Iran and educate on their experiences. I was thinking that they might get in trouble, but they are now in London and they are working on their first album.

BT: One of the characters in No One Knows About Persian Cats which I found quite impressive is Hich-Kass, Nobody. How did you first meet this character?
BG: I know Soroush personally and he is a very interesting and nice person, and he had a great influence over my work and this film. He introduced me to a man that had worked on his music videos and he helped me with the video clips in the film. He had a great effect over the structure in my film. He really loves Iran and even though he is currently under close observation and restriction, he still works under these hard conditions and teaches rap music to the underground musicians of our time. He is really a rebel, but at the same time he is a very honest person, like all of the other musicians in the film.

BT: You have a very unique style with this film as opposed to your other films; it’s an entirely new way of making films for you. How did you come up with the new style?
BG: Actually, this came from the music of the artists; I was listening to their music everyday and night. I wanted to make a film that was completely new for Iranian cinema and use unique locations and characters that are based on truth. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do more than what I had done, because we only had seventeen days to do the whole thing. I think everything else came from the music, trying to go and discover Iran and seeing the different layers of life in Iran—all of this came through the music. If this film is very energetic, that energy comes from the music of the bands that are in the film. First we were going to just have the camera in the studio and have the bands play for the camera and that would be the start of the film, but as I was listening to the music, I could see the visual interpretations of the music in my head. I decided that the viewer would want to see the visuals of this music that would give a face to the whole film.

BT: Right now, you are living outside Iran. Some say that an artist that is cutting his roots and living elsewhere can’t match the quality of his previous work. Do you agree with that?
BG: I have not left my country forever; I left my country to do a few projects, especially due to all of the censorship that is preventing the freedom of the artist. But soon I will go back to Iran, as I am not ready to leave that front. I want to go back and make my films there.

BT: Will you please tell us about your future projects?
BG: I am working on a movie that will be filmed in either the U.S. or in Germany. I am also working on a dark-comedy that will be shot mostly in English in Iraq. I hoped that I can make both of these projects happen and I will make the first one in 2010. I hope that these films will pass new messages and ideas to my audience.
BT: Thank you for your time and good luck.




An interview with Lone Scherfig director of An Education

Bijan Tehrani

An Education
happens in the post-war, pre-Beatles London suburbs. A bright schoolgirl is torn between studying for a place at Oxford and the more exciting alternative offered to her by a charismatic older man.

Lone Scherfig director of An Education , was born in Copenhagen and studied film at the University of Copenhagen and the National Film School of Denmark. She has written and directed short films, radio dramas and television series. Lone has collected 22 awards and 11 nominations for her work. Italian for Beginners (the fifth Danish Dogma Film) received a FIPRESCI award and a Silver Bear Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, and the Robert Award for Best Original Screenplay from the Danish Film Academy. Her features include The Birthday Trip and On Our Own. Her first English language film Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself received the FIPRESCI prize and a host of international film awards. Lone conceived the characters which formed the basis for Andrea Arnold’s Cannes Jury Prize winning film Red Road. Lone is a recipient of Denmark's prestigious Carl Dreyer Honorary Award. Just Like Home, her last feature before An Education, screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007.

Bijan Tehrani: What initially motivated you to make An Education?
Lone Scherfig: When I read the script, I was seduced by David just like everybody else. I wanted to make close-ups of this male character and be in this world for a while. I wanted to look through the eyes of this girl that I could understand and identify with.

BT: One thing that is very impressive about the film is the visual style. How did you come up with the visual style of your film?
LS: We wanted to do something that had the innocence that Jamie has. When you see things for the first time through her, it should be something that is not pretentious, but we are in her mind and the film works to get an impression of this girl’s view of the world. I think it is hard to make period films entertaining and I don’t want the audience to sit and focus on costumes and production design. They should interpret the story and then, after the film, they can absorb the time and space.

BT: How has this film been received by younger audiences?
LS: I don’t know, but when we tested the film, they liked it: They understand it and they related with the characters. This is about a character that gets an education for her sake, and decides how she wants to live, so I feel that this is an important message to send to young people. We see many issues that effect youth. We have underage sex, drugs, and racism; on the other hand I think that the film has very strong values and I would not mind my daughter watching the film.

BT: There is a touch of Tony Richardson filmmaking present in this film. Did you intentionally draw influence from this director?
LS: No, my cinematic background is Scandinavian. I love more southern European films and the directors that I feel closer to are French and Italian. I looked at the films that were made during the 60’s just to get a better understanding of the period and to interpret the language.

An Education is a very international film in terms of the cast and crew. As a Scandinavian, what do you think that you bring to the film in terms of your own background?
LS: I did a lot of research to make up for my lack of knowledge on British culture. I know that there are things that you take for granted as an Englishman that I don’t, so it makes it easier to understand for people that are not British. You do not need to be British to understand this film. Peter and I are the only outsiders.

BT: How did you go about casting the film?
LS: The casting director found many, many girls and Carey was one of them. I liked her from the beginning and it is wonderful to see how her career is taking off at a wonderful speed.

BT: How did you actually work with Carey Mulligan?
LS: We just talked everyday and I let her try things out and expand her range and help each other. We rehearsed a little bit, but not that much; you don’t want to over-rehearse a comedy because it flattens it. We never had any conflict and I would love to work with her again.

BT: And how was it like working with Alfred Molina?
LS: He was wonderful! He was just a pleasure and he would always make everyone around him happy. He got the character straight away and he understood the actor completely. He grew up in England and he said that he had met men like his character when he was a child.

BT: What was it like working with the Director of Photography on this film?
LS: John and I love the same things and the same films, and he is a great person. John has a great crew that he works with, which is important in creating a nice atmosphere on the shots, even if we shot the film in six-and-a-half weeks, we still had time to try things out. (Link to the interview)





Samuel Maoz Israeli Samuel Maoz wins Golden Lion in Venice
 VENICE, Italy (AFP) 
Posted 14 September, 2009 | by Fiona

"Lebanon" by Israeli Samuel Maoz, the story of the first Lebanon war told from inside an Israeli tank, won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival Saturday.

"I know it may be naive, but I like to believe that the film I made will open people's minds and that they will ask themselves who it is that we are," Maoz said.



June, 1982 - The First Lebanon War. A lone tank and a paratroopers platoon are dispatched to search a hostile town - a simple mission that turns into a nightmare. The four members of a tank crew find themselves in a violent situation that they cannot contain. Motivated by fear and the basic instinct of survival, they desperately try not to lose themselves in the chaos of war.

 Reymond Amsalem ...  Assna
 Ashraf Barhom  
 Oshri Cohen ...  Herzel
 Yoav Donat ...  Shmulik
 Michael Moshonov ...  Yigal
 Zohar Shtrauss ...  Gamil
 Dudu Tassa  
 Itay Tiran ...  Asi

Colin FirthColin Firth, star of Tom Ford's "A Single Man," picked up the Volpi Cup for best actor, while Russian actress Ksenia Rappoport won best actress for her role in "La Doppia Ora."

"I'm here for the gift that Tom Ford gave me," Firth said as he accepted the award. "Tom Ford had a cause that he put in my hands, so it became a very important thing for me as well."

Ford's film about a gay professor mourning the death of his partner is an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's landmark 1964 novel.

"A Single Man," a first film for former Gucci designer Ford, 48, offers a moving snapshot of life as a homosexual more than four decades ago.

Iranian photographer and visual artist Shirin Neshat won the Silver Lion for best director for "Women Without Men."

Her directorial debut dissects Iranian society at the time of the 1953 CIA-backed coup that overturned the nationalist government of Mohammed Mossadegh and installed the shah in power.

Shirin NeshatAgainst that backdrop, four women -- a prostitute, an activist, a cosmopolitan woman and a traditional young girl -- fight for individual freedom and independence, winding up together at an idyllic orchard in the countryside.

"This has been a labour of love for six years," Neshat said. "This film speaks to the world and to my country," she said, ending her remarks by making a "V for victory" sign.(Venice Film Festival 2009 Winners)




A Prophet wins inaugural London Film Festival best film award

28 October, 2009 | By Sarah Cooper

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival’s inaugural Star Of London award for best film went to Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet at the awards ceremony last night

Jacques Audiard

Jury chair Anjelica Huston said of France’s foreign-language Academy Award submisison: “A masterpiece, Un Prophete has the ambition, purity of vision and clarity of purpose to make it an instant classic. With seamless and imaginative story-telling, superb performances and universal themes, Jacques Audiard has made a perfect film.”

The jury gave a special mention to John Hillcoat’s The Road.

In another first-time presentation, the Best British Newcomer award celebrating a film-maker who had demonstrated “real creative flair and imagination with their first feature” went to The Scouting Book For Boys screenwriter Jack Thorne.

The jury gave a special mention to J Blakeson, the writer and director of The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, which premiered recently in Toronto.

The longstanding Sutherland Award presented to the maker of the most original and imaginative first feature went to Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s Ajami, Israel’s foreign-language Oscar submission.

The London Film Festival Grierson Award for best documentary was presented to Yoav Shamir for Defamation.

John Hurt and Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cissé earned BFI Fellowships for their “significant achievements in the fields of acting and directing.”

Hurt stars in two films that screened in the festival, 44 Inch Chest and The Limits Of Control. Cissé’s Tell Me Who You Are received its UK premiere at the festival




Nahid Persson and Farah Diba to compete at Sundance

Nahid Persson Sarvestani’s film The Queen and I (Drottningen och jag) is the first ever Swedish documentary to compete at the Sundance Festival.

The Queen and I
The Queen and I is selected for competition Photo: Real Reel

It was recently announced that Nahid Persson's new documentary The Queen and I, about Farah Diba, has been selected to compete in January's Sundance Film festival. This marks the first time ever that a Swedish documentary is in competition at Sundance.

Representatives for the festival ploughed their way through 1,623 documentaries from around the world, selecting 16 for the World Cinema section and 15 for the American section.

"It's fantastic, Sundance is so big. I recently presented the film at IDFA in Amsterdam and was totally bowled over by the reception. The film screened six times to completely full houses," says Nahid Persson. "And since the Sundance announcement I've had emails from several major companies wanting to distribute the film. That's very cool indeed!"

Two years ago Nahid Persson travelled to Iran to finish off her film Four Wives – One Man, which went on cinema release last year. As soon as she landed at Teheran Airport she was arrested and subjected to intense interrogation, culminating in her being forced to sign a declaration that she would make no more films about Iran. And it was during these interrogations that she got the idea for her latest film.
Going back thirty years, Nahid took part in the revolution which ousted the Shah and brought down the monarchy in Iran. Yet she has always been fascinated by the Shah's wife, Farah Diba. And it is to this seemingly unlikely subject that she has turned so many years after the revolution and the betrayal she felt at being forced into exile, a fate she shares in common with the former queen. During the two years of filming her former adversary there were many moments of disagreement, but also of surprise and revelation. The film unfolds a meeting between two women who have much more in common than either of them might have imagined.

Distributed by Folkets Bio, The Queen and I opens in Sweden on 13 February 2009.
The Sundance Film Festival runs from 15-25 January 2009.




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