Festival of Iranian Films opens with The Runner

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This year’s program for the second annual Festival of Iranian Films focuses on older films that have passed the test of time and have remained relevant for years or even decades. Local  film fans will thus have a chance to see works by renowned filmmakers such as Amir Naderi, Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi and Bahram Bayzai. The films’ shared subject will be children. The festival will take place 9-13 January 2013 at Prague’s Světozor and Lucerna cinemas and will offer a collection of feature-length works of fiction and documentary, as well as several short films offering audiences a deeper look at Iran’s world-renowned cinema.

The second annual Festival of Iranian Film will open with the powerful The Runner by Iranian screenwriter and director Amir Naderi, who has been one of Iranian cinema’s most influential figures since the 1970s. His awards include a Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival.

The Runner looks at the life of its young protagonist in an original manner that completely goes against typical narrative approaches. For director Amir Naderi, one of the most important figures in Iranian cinema, The Runner represents the peak of his career. It was one of the first post-revolutionary films in Iran about children that succeeded in attracting international attention. Its story is told through the eyes of a young boy, who represents a subtle but unmistakable metaphor for Iranian society as a whole. I am extremely glad that the festival is starting with this exceptional film,” says Kaveh Daneshmand of Tokada Productions.

Another distinctive film in this year’s program is The White Balloon (Badkonake sefid, 1995) by Jafar Panahi, one of the most important representatives of the Iranian New Wave. Panahi has received numerous awards around the world for his work, including a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and a Silver Bear in Berlin. In 1995, he received the Golden Camera in Cannes for his feature-length debut The White Balloon, which Britain’s The Guardian ranked among the 50 most important family films of world cinema. The film’s screenplay was written by Abbas Kiarostami, another important figure in Iranian cinema. His influence can be seen in Panahi’s work, since Panahi once worked as Kiarostami’s assistant director.

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Abbas Kiarostami will be represented at the festival by two of his films as well (audiences already had a chance to see his work at last year’s festival). The first is Where is the Friend’s Home? (Khane-ye doust kojast?) from 1987, which was shown at this year’s Summer Film School in Uherské Hradiště as part of a Kiarostami retrospective with the director’s personal attendance. His second film, Homework (Mashgh-e Shab, 1989) will be part of the festival’s documentary section. Another noteworthy inclusion in this year’s program is Bahram Bayzai’s renowned Bashu, the Little Stranger (Bashu, gharibeye koochak, 1990), which explores the integration of ethnic minorities and is often considered the best Iranian film ever. Ticket presales start on 2 January 2013. For more information, visit www.iranianfilmfestival.cz or www.kinosvetozor.cz.


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