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16TH Annual Celebration of Iranian Cinema at UCLA

UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Bijan and Soraya Amin Foundation present
Friday, January 13 - Saturday, February 11
2006 brings a new edition of our annual celebration of recent films from Iran.  Many of the films in this year's program exhibit a reflective quality perhaps influenced by the country's shifting political and social climate.  The seven films in this series cover such diverse issues as spirituality (SO CLOSE, SO FAR; A PIECE OF BREAD), family relationships (WE ARE ALL FINE) and the human cost of war and natural catastrophes (WAKE UP, AREZOO!), while also looking at modern urban life and the fringes of Iranian society (PORTRAIT OF A LADY FAR AWAY).

Niki Karimi
One of Iran's best-known actresses, Niki Karimi, makes her feature film directorial debut with ONE NIGHT, the daring story of a young woman's nocturnal journey through the streets of Tehran.  Our series commences with one of the strongest Iranian films of recent years: IRON ISLAND, a stunning depiction of an impoverished community living aboard a rusting ship off the coast of Iran.  This array of new work by both emerging and established directors highlights the depth and breadth of filmmaking talent in the Iran.
*All films are in Persian with English subtitles.

Friday, January 13
7:30 pm
(Jazireh Ahani)
(2005) Directed by
Mohammad Rasoulof

Mohammad Rasoulof's extraordinary new film focuses on a community of impoverished families living aboard an abandoned ship anchored off the Persian Gulf.  A harsh disciplinarian, the gruff and resourceful Captain Nemat (played by veteran actor Ali Nasirian) rules the community with an iron fist.  Meanwhile his young assistant Ahmad (Hossein Farzi-Zadeh from last year's BEAUTIFUL CITY) falls for a young girl whose brutish father keeps a watchful eye on her.  This richly textured film combines powerful images, vibrant characters and masterful performances to create a remarkable film, only the second feature from this talented new director.
Producers: M. Rasoulof, Abolhasan Davoodi. Screenwriter: M. Rasoulof. Cinematographer: Reza Jalali. Editor: Bahram Dehghan. With: Ali Nasirian, Hossein Farzi-Zadeh, Neda Pakadaman. 35mm, 90 min.
Saturday, January 14
7:30 pm
(Ma Hameh Khoubim)
(2005) Directed by
Bijan Mirbagheri

Director Mirbagheri seems to have taken a cue from American independents in this tale of a dysfunctional middle-class family whose private animosities explode when a video camera comes into their midst.  Oldest son Jamshid has been abroad for six years, leaving his parents, siblings, wife and young daughter adrift.  When Jamshid sends word that he would like his family to prepare a video tape for him, their initial attempts at cheer soon devolve into bitter arguments and secret confessions.  Dexterous cutting between video and 35mm as well as a powerful ensemble cast fuel this moving exploration of the consequences of emigration for the people left behind.
Producer: Mohammed Reza Takhtkeshian. Screenwriter: Mojgan Farah Avar Moghadam. Cinematographer: Mehdi Jafari. Editor: Saeed Shahsavari. With: Ahoo Kheradmand, Mohsen Ghazimorad, Parviz Shahinkhou, Leila Zare. 35mm, 91 min.

Saturday, January 21
7:30 pm
(Bidar Show, Arezoo!)
(2005) Directed by
Kianoush Ayyari

In 2003, a 6.6 earthquake struck the ancient Iranian city of Bam, killing over 40,000 people.  Eleven days after the first shock, filmmaker Ayari went to the site to shoot this eloquent and harrowing fictional feature about the utter grief and confusion that attend a major disaster.
 His spare, uninflected film follows the stories of two people who struggle to react to the incomprehensible: a woman who has lost her entire village under the rubble and a man who flees from the collapsed prison to search for his family.  With only two professional actors, and a large supporting cast of victims and rescue workers, WAKE UP, AREZOO! brings the unfathomable dimensions of natural catastrophe to an immediate, shocking human level.
Producer/Screenwriter/Editor: K. Ayari. Cinematographer: Mansoor Azar-Gol. With: Behnaz Jafari, Mehran Rajabi, Mohammad-Hossein Akbari, Mahdi Jafari. 35mm, 90 min.

Friday, January 27
7:30 pm
(Sima-Ye Zani Dar Doordast)
(2005) Directed by
Ali Mosaffa

Haunting, romantic and enigmatic, PORTRAIT OF A LADY FAR AWAY eschews the naturalism of much recent Iranian cinema for a dreamlike poetry that recalls Sadegh Hedayat's classic novel THE BLIND OWL.  When a divorced, jaded architect (Homayoun Ershadi of A TASTE OF CHERRY) discovers a suicidal message on his answering machine from an unknown woman, the intoxicating sound of her voice leads him on an all-night odyssey through Tehran with another stranger, a beautiful actress who claims to be the first woman's friend.  Richly burnished cinematography reveals an unfamiliar Tehran of midnight performance art gatherings, deserted theaters, and fortune telling parlors, while the architect begins to suspect that a third woman from his past may or may not be orchestrating the whole pursuit.
Producers: Saghi Bagherina, Ruhollah Baradari. Screenwriters: A. Mosaffa, Safi Yazdanian. Cinematographer: Homayoun Payvar. Editor: Hayadeh Safiyari. With: Leila Hatami, Homayoun Ershadi, Zahra Hatami, Zhila Sohrabi. 35mm, 98 min.
Preceded by
(2002) Directed by
Saeed Nouri
Director Saeed Nouri pays tribute to the early films of Jean-Luc Godard in this wry study of the complicated relationship between a young man and woman.
Producer/Screenwriter: S. Nouri. Cinematography: A. Jafari. Editor: F. Allkhani. With: S. Farshadjou, K. Anvari. Video, 12 min.

Friday, February 3
7:30 pm
(Yek Shab)
(2005) Directed by
Niki Karimi

In this first feature film by actress Niki Karimi (THE HIDDEN HALF), a teenaged girl's travels through Tehran after dark expose a crisis in Iranian sexual mores, as well as offering a tantalizing glimpse of the city's night people.
 When Negar's mother invites her married lover to spend the night, her daughter willfully sets out on foot at an hour where her only companions will be prostitutes, runaways, and soldiers.  Eventually, Negar accepts three rides from strange men, and the interior of each car provides the stage for an unsettling chamber drama.  Karimi's arresting photography at the edge of the visible aptly complements this story of a girl whose chances for freedom are entwined with danger.
Producers: Hassan Rajabali Bana, Jahan Kosari. Screenwriters: N. Karimi, Kamboziar Partovi, Cinematographer: Houssein Jafarian. Editor: Mastaneh Mohajer. With: Hanieh Tavassoli, Saeed Ebrahimifar, Nader Torkaman, Abdolreza Fakhar. 35mm, 78 min.

Sunday, February 5
7:00 pm
(Yek Shab)
(2005) Directed by
Niki Karimi
See Friday, February 3 above.

Wednesday, February 8
7:30 pm
(Yek Teke Nan)
(2005) Directed by Kamal Tabrizi
Kamal Tabrizi came out of years of television work to make a name for himself with his feature film debut, THE LIZARD (2003), which was both a scandal and a success with its satirical comedy about an escaped convict disguised as a mullah.  Here Tabrizi takes a more pensive approach to a similar subject: the roles of religion and spirituality (and the differences between the two) in contemporary Iran.  A PIECE OF BREAD is an ensemble piece about the reaction to an apparent miracle in a small town.  Sent to investigate are a respected local mullah, a rigid army officer and a na´ve young recruit. Several story lines intertwine in the course of a journey to the site of the reputed miracle.  As it progresses, the film quietly but steadily develops a touching sense of wonder at the beauty of the everyday.
Producer: Naser Onsori. Screenwriter: Mohammad-Reza Gohari. Cinematographer: Hossein Jafarian. Editor: Hossein Zandbaf. With: Esmaeel Khalaj, Ahmad Aghaloo, Hooman Seyedi, Payam Dehkordi. 35mm, 100 min.

Saturday, February 11
7:30 pm
(Kheili Dour, Kheili Nazdik)
(2005) Directed by
Reza Mirkarimi

Masoud Rayegani (from last year's SILENCE OF THE SEA) plays a wealthy Tehran doctor who lives a life of luxury, surrounded by the latest in high-tech personal communication devices.  This self-satisfied existence is rocked when he learns that his teenaged son has a brain tumor.  SO CLOSE, SO FAR follows the doctor's journey as he takes to the road to catch up with his son, off on a New Year's holiday.  This moving film is part male melodrama, part road movie, developing into a fable of renewal and transformation.  Like A PIECE OF BREAD (with which it shares a screenwriter), SO CLOSE, SO FAR can be read as either religious parable or existential allegory.  
The film is Iran's submission for the 2005 Foreign-Language Film Oscar.
Producer: R. Mirkarimi. Screenwriters: R. Mirkarimi, Mohammad-Reza Gohari. Cinematographer: Hamid Khozolee Abyane. Editor: Bahram Denghani. With: Masoud Rayegani, Afshin Hashemi. 35mm, 121 min.

VENUE:  All programs screen at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall, located on the northeast corner of the UCLA Westwood campus, near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Hilgard Avenue.
TICKETS:  Advance tickets for films screening at UCLA are available for $8 at
Tickets are also available at the theater one hour before showtime: $7 general admission; $5 students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID.  
PARKING:  There is free parking on Loring Ave. after 6pm on weekdays and all day on weekends.
Parking is also available adjacent to the James Bridges Theater in Lot 3 for $8.  (The Archive has made the following arrangement for its patrons: Archive patrons can purchase a parking permit for $5 to be used for future visits to the James Bridges Theater for a screening.  This represents a $3 savings over the usual price of $8.  Further info: / 310.206.8013.)
INFO: / 310.206.FILM.


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