Iranian Films Are Among Award Contenders at Venice Film Festival

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By Ahmad Rafat

The Venice Film Festival — which gave Shirin Neshat its best director award in 2009 — opened on August 29 on the island of Lido. While this year’s main competition has no Iranian movies in it, there are Iranian contenders in a parallel competition section, and Iranians are serving on festival juries.

Simin (Fatemeh) Motamed-Arya. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The award-winning actress Simin (Fatemeh) Motamed-Arya is on the jury of the Horizon (‘Orizzonti’) section. She will be judging, among other titles, some Iranian submissions.

One is Mostafa Sayari’s first full-length feature film, “As I Lay Dying,” about the disintegration of a family and the difficulties faced by the people of modern-day Iran. According to Mohammad Haghighat, a Paris-based film critic, no Iranian filmmaker has so expertly ever captured a family’s grief at the loss of a loved one.

The other title in competition in the Horizons section is Mohsen Banihashemi’s short film “Staircase.”

Meanwhile, Ebrahim Golestan’s 1964 “Brick and Mirror,” restored and digitized by Mitra Farahani, is one of 18 films being screened this year in the festival’s newly created Venice Classics section. It will be in prestigious company, presented alongside Luchino Visconti’s “Death in Venice,” Liliana Cavani’s “Night Porter,” and Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot.”

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The city of Venice is also hosting the 2018 “Giornate degli Autori” event, organized by the Italian writers’ guild and filmmakers’ union. Iranian-Austrian filmmaker Sudabeh Mortezaei’s drama “Joy” will be screened as part of it on August 30. It’s the story of a young African refugee who is forced into prostitution to support herself.

Mortezaei’s previous film “Sex Market” — a documentary on sigheh (temporary marriage) in Iran — was well received.

The festival closes on Sept. 8.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]