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17th Annual Festival of Films from Iran at The Gene Siskel Film Center

By Barbara Scharres

The Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes you to the 17th Annual Festival of Films from Iran, September 30 through October 29. One of the major showcases for new Iranian cinema in the Western world, this year's festival presents thirteen features, all Chicago premieres.

This year we note the increasing number of women entering the film industry in Iran with a selection of four new features directed by women. Chicago favorite Tahmineh Milani is represented by CEASE FIRE, a feminist comedy that has become the biggest box office draw in the history of Iranian cinema. Award-winning Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's brand new film MAINLINE comes to us direct from its international premiere in the Toronto Film Festival. Enseih Shah-Hosseini's second feature GOOD-BYE, LIFE is an unusual action-drama based on her own experiences as a war correspondent covering the Iran-Iraq war. Newcomer Mona Zandi Haghighi proves she is a talent to watch with her first feature FRIDAY AFTERNOON.

The Gene Siskel Film Center annually scouts Iranian films at the Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, where a large number of newly completed Iranian productions receive their world premiere. We maintain ongoing contact with producers, directors, and distributors in order to create a comprehensive look at trends, themes, and new talent through this festival. We're pleased to present the Chicago premieres of new films by a number of directors whose careers this festival has been following, including Bahman Farmanara's A LITTLE KISS, Alireza Amini's TIME FROZE, Nasser Refaie's ANOTHER MORNING, and Maziar Miri's GRADUALLY. . . Oscar-nominated Majid Majidi's THE WILLOW TREE, which was withdrawn from last year's festival at the last minute due to a print availability problem, premieres here in advance of its U.S. release.

The Gene Siskel Film Center thanks the many individuals, companies, and agencies in Iran and in the U.S. whose invaluable efforts, good will and support have made this year's festival possible. Special thanks to Farabi Cinema Foundation, an agency which promotes Iranian cinema around the world, and its international affairs director Amir Esfandiari and his staff, especially Reza Tashakori. Special thanks to Mohammad Atebbai of Iranian Independents for advice and cooperation. Thanks to Alireza Shahrokhi and Ali Haji Ghasemi, CIMA Media International; Katayoon Shahabi and Ziba Shahpoori, Sheherazad Media; Mohammad Reza Safiri, CinemaIran; and New Yorker Films.

The Festival of Films from Iran would not be possible without the vital interest and generous support of many friends including: Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, Artistic Consultant; Amir Normandi, Community Affairs Consultant; Simin Hemmati-Rasmussen, Cultural Affairs Consultant; Hossein Khandan, CinemaIran; Mohammad Pakshir; and Narimon Safavi of the Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board. Chicago Public Radio is the exclusive radio sponsor of the 17th Annual Festival of Films from Iran.


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