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Film Festival in Australia to Discuss Women & Cinema in Iran & Turkey


Tehran, 25 July 2006 (CHN) -- The role of women in the Iranian and Turkish cinemas will be discussed in a seminar entitled "Unveiling Islam: Women and Cinema in Iran and Turkey" during the 15th Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) in Australia on August 3rd, 2006.

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"Turkey and Iran share a border as well as an Islamic and cinematic heritage. What impact have women had in shaping their respective national cinemas is what will be discussed in this seminar," says BIFF in its announcement.

The Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) is a Queensland's premier film event which is presented every year by the Pacific Film and Television Commission. The festival provides an opportunity to focus on film culture in Queensland by showcasing the best and most interesting delights of world cinema through screening nearly 300 films. The diverse programme includes feature films, documentaries, retrospectives, short movies, experimental work, animation, video, etc. Each year, the Festival entertains film enthusiasts, presenting them a mix of local and international films and outstanding premier events capturing the imagination and embracing the art of filmmaking.

Since its establishment in 1992, the Festival has been at the forefront of the resurgence of the Australian Film Industry. The Festival prides itself on showcasing work from the Asian Pacific region.

During the 15th session of BIFF, some 300 titles from almost every country and genre imaginable including controversy, love, struggle, whimsy, humor, suspense, torment, fear, joy, etc. will be shown in this Festival and more than 40 countries will be represented, with special focuses on Australian, African, the Philippines and Hong Kong film-making. Retrospectives will cast light on French and American Film Noir and the depiction of women in the Islamic nations of Iran and Turkey.

"Until 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the cinemas of Iran and Turkey had a lot in common. Since then the cinemas of the two countries and the role of women both in front of and behind the camera had diverged. Yet in both of these patriarchal societies female identity is divided between indigenous identity and Islamic heritage and in the cities, a western modernity is shown from women in the movies. Producers, directors, actors, distributors, and academics will discuss and compare the issues of these national cinemas in two consecutive sessions," says BIFF in its announcement.

Gary Ellis, BIFF executive manager, said he expected the diversity of this year's program and an expansion in venues and community elements would drive strong attendance. Tickets for all films and events are now on sale through the BIFF box office at The Regent online.

The history of Iranian film can be devised into four time periods including pre-World War II, post-World War II, pre-Islamic Revolution, and post-Islamic Revolution.

It can be claimed that participation of Iranian women in cinema goes back to the year 1920 when Khan-Baba Khan Motazedi, an Iranian engineering student living in Paris, returned to Iran and brought some film making equipment with him. He initiated a career as a cinematographer and is credited for arranging a public screening exclusively for women. The Lor Girl was the first Iranian talkie movie made in India in 1934. Most films produced in this period portrayed women as victims of male immorality.

The Post-World War II movies started to be produced since 1949, though it was characterized by commercial cinema comprised of primarily low-quality melodramas and comedies based on popular Western movies. The decade prior to the Revolution (1969-1979) marked the emergence of an "Iranian New Wave". Censorship laws forced the film makers to be creative in finding ways to symbolically represent social and political issues.

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 brought in new changes to cinema production. As Islamic values were implemented in almost every sphere of the society, the role of women in the Iranian movies also changed to comply with the Islamic values. The changes were first applied to the actresses' physical appearance as the use of tight feminine clothes and any cloth exposing women's body except for the face and hands was banned.

However, not only any of these failed to dim the role of women in the Iranian movies, the Iranian actresses and the cinema industry in Iran have shown an acceptable progress during this period as the contents of the movies were greatly improved. The Iranian cinema is today in the forefront of world cinema. Over the last decade there has not been a year in which Iranian films have not won trophies in an international film festival. Compared with other Islamic countries, Iranian female film directors have come to international notice to a large extent.

Altogether, the story of Iranian cinema and the picture it paints of women, especially after the Revolution, is a complex topic. The seminar on "Unveiling Islam: Women and Cinema in Iran and Turkey" will consider this issue with an inclusive perspective. This seminar will be held in August 3rd, 2006 at Ian Hanger Recital Hall, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, Australia.

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