Aban 2 1399 - October 23 2020
The Wunderkind Iranian Director Who Stopped Making Films

The Iranian filmmaker Samira Makhmalbaf is one of the best modern directors, and one of the most precocious of all time, but, even when the repertory houses were in high gear prior to the lockdown, her films were rarely shown. Makhmalbaf made her first feature, "The Apple," in 1997, at the age of seventeen; her second, "Blackboards," came out in 2000, and her third, "At Five in the Afternoon," three years after that. -Richard Brody, New Yorker 10/20/20

Mohammad Reza Shajarian embodied the timeless beauty of Persian music

Ivividly remember the first time I met Mohammad Reza Shajarian on a summer afternoon in Berlin in 2011. He was touring Europe, along with his daughter Mojgan and an ensemble of young musicians. For Iranians, this was - along with North America - the only place they could experience their great idol on stage, given that the outspoken maestro of Persian classical music had been banned from performing inside Iran two years earlier. -Marian Brehmer, Guardian 10/12/20

Persian music master Shajarian who backed Iran protests dies

Mohammad Reza Shajarian, whose distinctive voice quavered to traditional Persian music on state radio for years before supporting protesters following Iran's contested 2009 election, has died, state TV reported Thursday. He was 80. Shajarian enlivened Iran's traditional music with his singing style, which soared, swooped and trilled over long-known poetry set to song. But the later years of his life saw him forced to only perform abroad, after he backed those who challenged the disputed re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by telling state radio to stop using his songs. -Nasser Karimi, AP 10/9/20

Iranian musicians help out in secret on Israeli singer's new record

An Israeli singer of Persian heritage is set to release an album she made by working in secret with Iranian musicians, her long-held aspiration for artistic collaboration despite bitter animosity between the two states. Using encrypted instant-messaging apps like Telegram and by wiring money through third countries, such as the UK and Turkey, Liraz Charhi said she spent months of sleepless nights fearing those who associated would be in danger. -Oliver Holmes, Guardian 10/8/20

How filmmaker Khosrow Sinai uncovered the hidden history of Polish refugees in Iran

Iranian filmmaker Khosrow Sinai passed away in August from COVID-19, leaving behind an important and eye-opening document of Polish exodus during the Second World War. His documentary The Lost Requiem is now available to watch free online. - Aga Sablinska, Calvert Journal 10/7/20

Iranian Film Festival, San Francisco: Winners of the 2020 'Sepanta Awards' Announced

Family drama "Labyrinth" was the top winner at the 13th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco by receiving awards in four categories, including best film and best director. The winners were announced virtually last Friday. Also due to the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival ran virtually this year. 10/2/20

Olivia Colman-Narrated Documentary About Iranian Activist Nasrin Sotoudeh Acquired By Virgil Films

Virgil Films & Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Nasrin, a documentary about activist Nasrin Sotoudeh narrated by Oscar winner Olivia Colman. Sotoudeh is a human rights activists and an outspoken leader of Iran's women's rights movement. Last week, she cited serious health concerns in ending a six-week hunger strike in Evin Prison, where she has been serving a nearly four-decade sentence. Millions of people from around the world have called for her release. -Deadline 9/30/20

'Audiences won't have seen anything like this': how Iranian film Chess of the Wind was reborn

The rediscovery of a film is seldom as fascinating a story as the film itself, but that's the case with Chess of the Wind (Shatranj-e Baad), directed by Iranian film-maker Mohammad Reza Aslani. It was only screened twice in Tehran in 1976, once to a cinema of hostile critics, and then to an empty cinema - the bad reviews had done their work. -John Harris Dunning, Guardian 9/30/20

With spy series 'Tehran,' Israelis reach out to an enemy

Things are not as they seem in the new Apple TV+ series "Tehran" - as it should be in a spy thriller. The series opens with a commercial flight from Jordan to India that's suddenly diverted to Iran. A few of the passengers on board have secrets. Those secrets will soon have war jets scrambling and a covert manhunt launching. As audacious as the premise, "Tehran" is equally bold: an Israeli production that offers viewers a sympathetic view of Iran - one of Israel's greatest foes - without anyone from the production setting foot in the Islamic Republic. -Mark Kennedy, AP 9/28/20

Golriz on Ghazaleh

My friend Ghazaleh Golbakhsh is a film-maker, a writer, actor, Iranian, Kiwi, woman of colour, citizen of the world, and wild dreamer. Her new book of essays examines the impact of her identity and its formation, on everything from dating to growing up in war torn Iran. I released my memoir, a bit of the journey to becoming that so called first so-called "Refugee MP", this year too. She's a prominent character in that story, and we compared notes a lot as we wrote our accounts. -Golriz Ghahrman, Newsroom, NZ 9/22/20

Iranian-German movie 'Bandar Band' sends message of hope

Iranian director Manijeh Hekmat expected the production of her latest movie to go ahead as planned - but then she found herself having to improvise. The resulting film is more than just an homage to Iran's landscapes. -Deutsche Welle 9/21/20

All-women band in Iran struggles to break through

The men in the audience clapped and the women ululated as the band finished singing: it would have been commonplace except the venue was in Iran and the group on stage were all women. The catchy rhythmic music they played that balmy night is known as "bandari". Its lyrics are from ancient folkloric songs, passed down the generations and familiar to many at the concert in an amphitheater in the southern port of Bandar Abbas. -AFP 9/18/20

13th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco: September 19-25, 2020

This year Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco, presents a record-breaking 52 films, in two days, from Iran, USA, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden...ranging from fiction, documentary, short, animation...to music video. We are happy and proud to continue our mission to discover and support the next generation of Iranian filmmakers living and working around the world, while we honor the veteran filmmakers for their distinguished careers. 9/15/20

Director Shahram Mokri: Iran sanctions big obstacle for joint film projects

Iranian director Shahram Mokri, whose latest drama "Careless Crime" was screened at the 77th Venice Film Festival, has said the U.S. sanctions on Iran have put a big obstacle in the way of the countries and companies eager to cooperate with Iran in the film industry. He made the remarks in the program "European Union for the Future of World Cinema" held at the Spazio Incontri on Sunday on the margins of the festival. 9/10/20

Sun Children review - Iranian street kids strike gold

Sun Children, by the Iranian director Majid Majidi, gives us a prison-break drama that is escaping to nowhere, and a knockabout school comedy gone horribly wrong. The acting is broad, the plot gears often creak, but it has guts and heart and a grubby, street-smart charisma. It's one of the finest films playing in this year's Venice competition. -Xan Brooks, Guardian 9/9/20

Iranian director calls Venice premiere 'like a new life'

Restricted travel, quarantine and positive COVID-19 tests meant that Majid Majidi's appearance at the Venice Film Festival for Iranian drama "Sun Children" (Khorshid) was an achievement in itself. The film follows the story of Ali and his three friends on the streets of Tehran, as they try to find hidden treasure, digging a tunnel underneath a local charity school for street kids and child laborers. -Louise Dixon, AP 9/9/20

Interview: Composer Aida Shirazi On Music, Success And Her Iranian Upbringing

For centuries, the classical music "canon" has been dominated by European male figures. Times are changing, though, and many diverse voices are finally finding a foothold in the genre - and one need look no further than Davis. Iranian musician Aida Shirazi came to the United States four years ago to pursue a Ph.D in composition at UC Davis. Lately, she's been getting a lot of national attention not just for her music, but also for her role as a co-founder of the Iranian Female Composer's Association. -CapRadio 9/1/20

SGS Summer Film Festival: Chicken with Plums; Discussion with Marjane Satrapi

The Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies and France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies invite you to watch Chicken with Plums from home at a time that works for your schedule, then join us on Zoom for a discussion with the writer and co-director, Marjane Satrapi. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom information. 8/28/20

Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian arrested for working with women

Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian says he is facing trial over working with female singers and dancers. The 30-year-old, who has already been imprisoned twice on charges relating to his music, says he was arrested two weeks ago over his latest project. The album, which is not yet complete, is due to include female vocalists - who are effectively banned in Iran. -Mark Savage, BBC 8/26/20

'Sun Children' First Trailer: Majid Majidi's Venice Competition Drama Charts Child Labor In Iran

The film tells the story of 12-year-old Ali and his three friends. Together, they work hard to survive and support their families, doing small jobs in a garage and committing petty crimes to make fast money. Everything changes, however, when Ali is entrusted to find a hidden treasure underground but must first enrol at the Sun School, a charitable institution that tries to educate street kids and child laborers. -Andreas Wiseman, Deadline 8/25/20

"Carter was so humane": "Desert One" filmmaker on examining the Iran hostage crisis 40 years later

Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple's gripping documentary, "Desert One," provides a new look at the 1980 rescue mission to free the Iran Hostages. The film briskly recounts the history of U.S.-Iran relations, beginning with Imam Khomeini taking power in February 1979. The Shah of Iran left the country, eventually arriving in New York for medical treatment. Later that year, Iranian students, angered by the United States' refusal to return the Shah to Iran, occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and took 52 Americans hostage. -Gary M Kramer, Salon 8/21/20

Ava review - smart teenage thriller amps up the micro-tyrannies

This debut feature by the Iranian-Canadian director Sadaf Foroughi takes what might otherwise be a banal family-drama trope - moody teenage girl with warring parents starts acting out - and turns it into something resembling a political thriller. In present-day Iran, and many other strict societies, a teenage girl who presumes to challenge her parents and teachers is made to feel like a dissident in a police state, forever nursing secrets, forever being questioned and harassed by the authorities... -Guardian 8/19/20

Loris Tjeknavorian wins Books for Peace Awards 2020

Iranian Armenian composer Loris Tjeknavorian, 82, has been selected as the winner of the Books for Peace Awards 2020. He had first received the nomination in May from Iran's Art for Peace Festival, which had nominated him for the 2019 edition of the awards. The winners will be honored during a special ceremony on September 12 in Rome, Italy. -Public Radio of Armenia 8/18/20

Iran Threatens Musician With Jail for Encouraging Women to Sing, Dance

Iranian composer Mehdi Rajabian lives with the constant threat of prison hanging over his head. The 30 year old has already been jailed once for his work, but on Tuesday he was taken to court and arrested again over his latest project: an album featuring music from across the Middle East. The album includes songs by female singers and features dancing by fellow Iranian Helia Bandeh. -Newsweek 8/13/20

Iranian Actress Mahchehreh Khalili dies at 44

Actress Mahchehreh Khalili, who is most famous for her roles in the series and movies such as "The Rise of Mokhtar" and "Mask" died from cancer on Friday, August 7. Khalili was born in Tehran in 1977 and had a degree in architecture from Oxford University. She had completed courses at Method Acting college, a school in London that provides acting classes and lessons. 8/11/20

Iran-born actor Sahel Rosa on the hardship and help she had growing up in Japan: interview

There are many examples of children of foreign nationalities falling by the wayside in Japan, after arriving unable to speak the language and then struggling to fit in at school or in society. But Sahel Rosa, 34, came to Japan from the chaotic aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, and went on to become an actor and TV personality. -Mainichi Japan 8/11/20

Expanding the horizons of the kamancheh

German-Iranian Misagh Joolaee was recently recognised for widening the scope of playing the Persian spiked fiddle with the German Record Critics' Award. Mariam Brehmer listened to his new album -Qantara.de 8/7/20

"Just Get Rid of It": Hollywood's Accent Problem

When our culture is better represented, we can spread ideas and change people's opinions, not just about accents, but about people with all sorts of backgrounds. So that down the road, when a child moves here from another country, instead of seeing themselves villainized, ridiculed, or both, they're able to see and hear themselves as the heroes of their own story. -Prem Sai Ramani, Lainey Gossip 8/7/20

What Makes Kiarostami a Modern Master? Start Here

The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami is widely regarded as one of the great modern filmmakers, but if you discovered him at a particular peak of his international recognition - when he shared the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 for "Taste of Cherry" - you might have been baffled. "Taste of Cherry" follows an enigmatic driver who picks up passengers on the outskirts of Tehran. He plans to commit suicide, he says, and needs someone to bury him. For viewers unfamiliar with Kiarostami, watching more than an hour of such conversations was perplexing, even tedious. -Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times 8/7/20

'Sunless Shadows' Review: A Harsh Look at Iranian Women in Prison

Mehrdad Oskouei's documentary brings empathy to a tough subject: women and girls convicted of murdering male family members. -Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, New York Times 8/5/20

Iranian Metal Band Arsames Face 15 Years in Prison for Playing "Satanic" Music

Yet another Iranian band faces prison time for playing heavy metal. Death metal act Arsames were reportedly arrested last month and charged with "15 years in jail for being in a satanic metal band and being against the Islamic government," according to official government documents. -Consequence of Sound 8/5/20

World Artists Welcoming Iran's First International Online Student Puppet Festival

The first 'virtual International puppet theatre festival' started its work on 9th May 2020 by enrolling participants' works on Instagram page of the festival: "We have corresponded with most Iranian students and universities around the world, and fortunately, we have received a great response. So far, more than 30 plays have been submitted to the festival from about 12 countries." 7/22/20

THE FAIRIES: An opera banned in Tehran is released in Amsterdam

The Persian Dutch Network presents a recording which has been banned in Tehran for three decades: an opera based on a famous poem by Ahmad Shamlu, known as the 'Poet of Freedom' in Persia (Iran) Shamlu was an outspoken advocate for freedom of speech in his homeland, which caused serious restrictions to his activities, imposed by both the monarchy and the Islamic regime. Shamlu was given a Freedom of Expression award by Human Rights Watch in 1991. His poems have been translated into various languages. 7/21/20

Yara Shahidi Has Been Preparing For This Moment Since Birth

"A lot of the work that I'm hoping to do is about pointing people toward the organizers and the people on the front lines of this (Black Lives Matter) movement." -Kaitlyn Greenidge, Elle 7/16/20

Kourosh Ahari's Thriller 'The Night' Becomes First U.S.-Produced Film To Receive License For Theatrical Release In Iran

The Kourosh Ahari-directed psychological thriller The Night has landed a license for theatrical release in Iran. This is a historic benchmark for the country's filmmaking community as it is the first U.S.-produced film to receive a license for theatrical release in Iran since the revolution. -Deadline 7/15/20

Documentary "Lift-up" to chronicle life story of Iran's history-making woman weightlifter

Iranian filmmaker Reza Surani is making the documentary "Lift-up" about the life story of Pupak Basami, who is the first woman from post-revolution Iran to compete in an international weightlifting tournament. Basami wrote her name into the history books as the first Iranian woman who participated in the Asian Weightlifting Championships in April 2019. 7/14/20

'Break this taboo': Religious singer Koveitipour's duet with young girl shocks Iran

A well-known religious singer has caused controversy in Iran by releasing a recording of a duet with a 13-year-old girl, which has gone viral on social media. The song, which was first released by Gholam Koveitipour during the Iran-Iraq war, was reprised by Koveitipour and a girl, known as Parichehr, recording their lines separately. -Rohollah Faghihi, Middle East Eye 7/6/20

Can New Spy Thriller 'Tehran' Affect Israeli-Iranian Relations? Its Writer Hopes So

'We present a different, pleasant side of Iran, which no Western series has ever shown,' says Moshe Zonder, the creator of 'Tehran': Moshe Zonder always liked peeking outside and over the fence - and that's not just a metaphor. While working as a young reporter on the local weekly Tel Aviv, he made it a habit to visit Gaza at every opportunity... -Itay Stern, Haaretz 7/3/20

Composer Loris Tjeknavorian creates "memorable" piece in home quarantine

Loris Tjeknavorian, the 82-year-old Iranian composer, has said that he has created one of the most memorable pieces of his life during the home quarantine. Speaking to Mizan on Tuesday, he said, "I have worked on a special piece over the past four months for which I have not selected a name as yet, but it is the outcome of contemplation and mediation during the home quarantine. I believe it will be one of the most memorable works of my professional life." 6/25/20

'The Salesman' Star Taraneh Alidoosti Given Suspended Prison Sentence in Iran

Taraneh Alidoosti, star of Asghar Farhadi's "The Salesman" and one of Iran's most popular female actors, is set to receive a five-month prison sentence on charges of anti-government activism, BBC Persia has reported. -Variety 6/25/20

Apple To Co-Produce Israel-Iran Spy Thriller 'Tehran'

Apple TV+ has come aboard Israel-Iran espionage thriller Tehran, taking the international rights to the series outside of Israel, where it is being broadcast by Kan 11. Distributed by Cineflix Rights, the eight-part series features young Israeli actress Niv Sultan as Tamar Rabinyan, a Mossad computer hacker-agent undertaking her very first mission in Iran's capital, which is also her place of birth. -Deadline 6/17/20

The Art of Persia: A rare glimpse into an ancient world of art and culture

Samira Ahmed and her team, with the help of some amazing drone photography, make a pretty good stab at revealing Iran's fascinating, rich and complex past, a story of successive invasions and empire-building, about which, I imagine, most of us are fairly ignorant. By calling the three-parter The Art of Persia, as opposed to Iran, there's a clear delineation between the country's past and present, its pre-Islamic and Islamic cultures, and the time before and after it became an Islamic Republic in 1979. -Evening Standard 6/16/20

Iranian Actor Mohammad-Ali Keshavarz dies at 90

The legendary actor Mohammad-Ali Keshavarz, famous for his roles in Ali Hatami's hits such as "Mother" and "Hezardastan", has died. He was 90. Born in 1930 in Isfahan, Keshavarz began his stage acting career in 1948 and entered the world of cinema with "Night of the Hunchback" by Farrokh Ghaffari in 1964. 6/15/20

Samira Ahmed: 'Run for director general of the BBC? Maybe next time'

What next for the broadcaster who blew the whistle on gender inequality at the BBC? A groundbreaking TV series on the treasures of Persia, and - if her mum has her way - a crack at Bollywood -Tim Adams, Guardian 6/8/20

Shardad Rohani performing from Tehran's Roudaki Hall

In celebration of Maestro Shardad Rohani's upcoming birthday on May 27, Farhang Foundation is proud to present an exclusive world premiere performance by the Maestro performing his much celebrated composition of Dance of Spring, exclusively for us from Tehran's Roudaki Hall (aka Vahdat Hall), home of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra. 5/26/20

Bani Adam (Children of Adam): World musicians release solidarity music video during pandemic

A music video inspired by Persian poet Sadi's famous poem "The Sons of Adam Are Limbs of Each Other" has been released with the voice of Iranian vocalist Alireza Qorbani in collaboration with several Italian singers and overseas musicians during the pandemic. The music video has been released to promote the message of peace and friendship, the Italian theater and cinema actress Pamela Villoresi has said in an introduction to the music video. 5/20/20

Finally, a Stage for Female Composers From Iran

Growing up in Iran, the composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh was surrounded by the sounds of traditional Persian instruments like the santour and tar. She found herself, however, drawn to the piano. But one element remained consistent across traditions: Virtually all the music was composed by men... Together with her fellow Iranian composers Anahita Abbasi, 35, and Aida Shirazi, 33, Ms. Nourbakhsh set out to change that. In 2017, they founded the Iranian Female Composers Association, known as I.F.C.A., which is dedicated to supporting female composers from Iran through programming, commissioning and mentorship. -Ryan Ebright, New York Times 5/19/20

VIDEO: Tehran Choir performs John Rutter's "For the Beauty of Earth"

The Tehran Choir by conductor Mehdi Qasemi has released a video in which its members perform British composer John Rutter's "For the Beauty of the Earth" during the home quarantine in the battle against the spread of COVID-19. Several musicians from the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, Iran's National Orchestra as well as musicians from several other countries have collaborated in this project 5/14/20

VIDEOS: Iran's National Instruments Orchestra Pays Tributes to COVID-19 Healthcare Staff

With the aim of expressing appreciation for the medical staff from around globe, the Iran's National Instruments Orchestra performed "The Avicenna Suite" by maestro Farhad Fakhreddini. The work has been recorded and edited by cell phone at home. 5/1/20

Prolific prisoner, revisited visionary, revered record store

We might be chafing at the stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 crisis, but Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi has for years endured a similar but far graver confinement and made the most of it. In 2010 an Iranian court punished his outspokenness with a six-year prison term, later reduced to house arrest, plus a 20-year ban on making movies. -Peter Keough, Boston Globe 4/30/20

Coronavirus: Iran's female singers familiar with restrictive measures

The current quarantine is nothing new for Iranian women musicians - they've been restricted from performing in public since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Singer Massy Ahadi explains how they come to terms with it. -Deutsche Welle 4/29/20

Golshifteh Farahani: Who Is This Iranian Born Extraction Actor?

Did you happen to binge on Chris Hemsworth-starrer Extraction this weekend? The action-thriller has been garnering love in India not just for the Indian cast and kinetic cinematography, but for Iranian-born actress Golshifteh Farahani. Extraction delivers exactly what it promised it would - dramatic dialogues and mayhem. In between all the stunts and violence, Hemsworth's (who plays Tyler Rake in the film) handler and primary contact Nik (aka Golshifteh Farahani) makes an appearance. -She The People 4/29/20

'Untiemly' wins award at 2020 Kansas City FilmFest International

Iranian feature 'Untimely', directed by Pouya Eshtehardi, has won the 'Best World Cinema Feature' at the 2020 edition of the Kansas City FilmFest International in the United States. 'Untimely' is about a young private, Hamin, doing his military service in a watchtower in the borderline of Iran and Pakistan. Up in the watchtower, Hamin reviews the past years and the things that happened to him and his sister since their childhood. 4/20/20

AP PHOTOS: In Iran, isolated musicians perform from rooftops

With performance halls closed and many isolated in their homes as a result of the Mideast's worst virus outbreak, Hosseini and other Iranian musicians now find performance spaces where they can. That includes rooftops dotted with water tanks and littered with debris, empty front porches and opened apartment windows. Their music floats down on others stuck in their homes, fearful of the COVID-19 illness the virus brings. -Ebrahim Noroozi, AP 4/16/20

Popular Iranian TV Series Criticized For 'Unforgivable' Scenes Reminiscent Of Shah-Era Shows

Until recently, the Iranian television series Paytakht (Capital) was praised for promoting state policies -- including Tehran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- while also attracting viewers who usually watch satellite TV for entertainment. But Paytakht has recently been accused by hard-liners of being manipulated by Iran's enemies for perceived immoral content and scenes that resemble those from prerevolutionary hit shows banned under the country's strict theocracy. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 4/12/20

What an Iranian film about a leper colony can teach us about coronavirus

In the autumn of 1962, the celebrated Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad made what would be her first and last film. Regarded as a precursor to the Iranian new wave and now considered a classic, The House Is Black is a documentary about the members of a leper colony near the city of Tabriz in northwest Iran. Despite having been filmed nearly 60 years ago, and focusing on a small group of people suffering from a particular condition, it has found new relevance in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, having much to say not only about the current situation in Iran but also to those in self-isolation and/or suffering, regardless of location. -Joobin Bekhrad, Guardian 4/6/20

Iranian Filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei Awaits a Prison Sentence in Quarantine

Three days before the announcement of the coronavirus coming to the city of Qom in Iran, I organized a one-day documentary-film workshop in which more than 80 people participated. My hotel was right in front of the Fatima Masumeh holy shrine. Early in the morning, around 4 a.m, pilgrims who had come from different cities began shouting loudly in the corridors as they prepared for pilgrimage. After class, I went to the shrine, and some of my students accompanied me; -Mehrdad Oskouei, as told to Bilge Ebiri, Vulture 4/3/20

In Iran, Coronavirus Is Suffocating an Already Strained Experimental Music Scene

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, the devastation it leaves in its wake is, for the time being, incalculable. In addition to the rising deaths, there are overloaded medical facilities, widespread layoffs, and countless impacts on everyday life: weddings on hold, kids home from school, festivals postponed, nightclubs closed until further notice. The ultimate effects of the disease are likely to be as much cultural as they are economic. -Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork 3/25/20

At Saudi music festival, Iran rivalry takes the stage

Exile Iranian musicians critical of religious hardliners in Tehran converged this month to perform in the most unlikely locale: Saudi Arabia. Taking place amid heightened tensions between the regional enemies, the event was promoted as cultural dialogue but also allowed the kingdom a subtle dig at Tehran, with Saudi-owned MBC Persia airing the concerts for Iranian viewers. -Reuters 3/18/20

Cartoonist Jamal Rahmati uses Shahnameh characters to make animations on defeating coronavirus

has used characters from Persian poet Ferdowsi's magnum opus, the Shahnameh, to make an animation series named "The Seven Adventures of Coronavirus". "Rustam and Zakariya against Corona", the first part of the seven-episode comedy series, was released on Saturday. 3/15/20

European Film Community Protests Mohammad Rasoulof's Imminent Arrest

Figureheads from the European film industry have gathered to protest the imminent incarceration of Iranian film director Mohammad Rasoulof, whose film "There Is No Evil" won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale, which he was unable to attend because of a government ban on travel. -IndieWire 3/10/20

'Radioactive' director Marjane Satrapi reveals why she chooses not to work with US producers

Iranian-French filmmaker Marjane Satrapi, the first woman to be nominated for an animation Oscar with her film Persepolis, has called for more female role models on screen. "Women are half the population of the world so half the stories should be about us, but that's not the case," she said to an audience of rising writers and directors at the Glasgow Film Festival on Friday. "And the stories that are made about women have us as the cheated-on girlfriend or old and looking for love." -Screen Daily 3/9/20

Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Renowned Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof Summoned to Prison

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) strongly condemns the Iranian judiciary's decision to put internationally acclaimed filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof in harm's way by summoning him to prison when thousands of prisoners are being released to prevent coronavirus transmissions. "Yet again we're witnessing the cruel lengths judicial officials will go to stifle peaceful criticism of state policies," said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi. "Filmmakers and free speech advocates everywhere should loudly call for this absurd sentence to be rescinded." 3/5/20

Iranian Instrument maker Zolfaqar Beitaneh picked as Living Human Treasure

The South Khorasan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (SKCHTHD) has selected dotar maker Zolfaqar Beitaneh as a Living Human Treasure. The 58-year-old master, who lives in Ferdows, South Khorasan Province, has also skills in crafting a kind of reed flute, which is used in the folk music of Khorasan. 3/4/20

Banned Iranian Director Mohammad Rasoulof Wins Top Prize At Berlin Film Festival

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival for his film titled There Is No Evil, which he made despite being forbidden to do so by the government in Tehran. Rasoulof was not present at the February 29 ceremony to receive the Golden Bear award for the film, which tells four stories loosely connected to the use of the death penalty in Iran and dealing with personal freedom under tyranny. 3/1/20

Iranian filmmakers: Successful despite censorship

Directors from Iran face strict state restrictions, but they nevertheless manage to creatively bypass them. These 10 filmmakers' works have obtained international critical acclaim despite the obstacles. -Deutsche Welle 2/27/20

Iran's Mohammad Rasoulof on His 'There is no Evil' As 'Resistance,' Exclusive Trailer

Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof, whose sixth feature "There is no Evil" screens in competition at the Berlinale, is one of his country's most prominent directors even though none of his films have screened in Iran where they are banned. In 2011, the year he won two prizes at Cannes with his censorship-themed "Goodbye," Rasoulof was sentenced with fellow director Jafar Panahi to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for alleged anti-regime propaganda. His sentence was later suspended and he was released on bail. -Nick Vivarelli, Variety 2/21/20

Iranian musicians release "Requiem for UIA Flight 752"

A group of Iranian musicians has released a song online in commemoration of the victims of a Ukrainian jetliner, which was hit unintentionally by Iran last month. Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian is the composer of the song "Requiem for UIA Flight 752" recorded at the Rad No-Andish Art and Cultural Institute in Tehran. 2/16/20

Lights, camera, revolution: Iran's military makes films

While the theocratic state once sought to win over hearts and minds with street posters of martyrs and long speeches by clerics, it is now putting its money into reality shows, comedies, documentaries and feature length films... Films such as the Oscar-winning A Separation were mostly funded by private individuals or foreign money. Falling state television viewing figures, particularly among young people, have convinced the guards it is time to deliver a more nuanced message. -Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times 2/14/20

PERFORMANCE: The Story of Nowruz comes to life in San Francisco in March 2020

The production "The Story of Nowruz" describes the unique celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of the Persian new year. From exciting and ancient Zoroastrian soul-cleansing rituals, to the good luck charm and beauty of the "Table of the Seven S's," the performance depicts traditions of inspiration, rebirth, renewal, and hope through traditional choreography, original scoring performed by a live 22-piece orchestra, and professional actors in a first-of-its-kind stage production. 2/13/20

The Bleak Humor of Tehran's One and Only Standup Comic

During my three years as a journalist in Tehran, from 2016 to 2019, I visited many places where it felt as though I was passing through a membrane, leaving behind the Islamic Republic for a place of personal freedom. A place where headscarves became no more than fashion accessories and Western culture became something to discuss rather than set on fire...Ali, who was then in his early thirties, looked supremely confident as he walked onto the small stage, grinning broadly, like the Cheshire Cat on MDMA. -Eric Randolph, NY Review of Books 2/10/20

Iranian actors call on Rouhani to allow cinema legend to come home

Iranian actors are calling on President Hassan Rouhani to allow legendary Iranian actor Behrouz Vossoughi to come home from self-exile in the United States, but the requests on behalf of the iconic actor have fallen on deaf ears. With more than 90 cinematic and television films, Behrouz Vossoughi is arguably Iran's most versatile actor. At the age of 82, he still has many fans across the country - most of whom are currently raising their voices to ensure the model-turned-actor-turned-exile comes back to Iran after 40 years in the United States. -Rohollah Faghihi, Al-Monitor 2/7/20

Popular Iranian Rapper Tataloo Released From Detention In Turkey

Popular Iranian rapper Tataloo has been released from detention in Turkey a week after being arrested by police amid concerns that he could be deported to Iran. Tataloo, whose real name is Amir Hossein Maghsoodloo, posted a video on February 3 on his Instagram page, which has nearly 3 million followers, in which he is seen leaving what appears to be a detention center in Istanbul, where he had been held in recent days. -RFE/RL 2/4/20

"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness" wins grand prize at Sundance Film Festival

"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness" directed by Iran's Masud Bakhshi received the "World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic" award at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday February 1st, 2010. Filmmaker Massoud Bahkshi brings aesthetic energy and dramatic intensity to a story that unfolds over a few hours and almost entirely within the studio. 2/3/20

Concert: Niaz Nawab, Erwin Khachikian & Rana Farhan to perform in San Francisco on February 28, 2020

Diaspora Arts Connection (DAC) presents Niaz Nawab, Erwin Khachikian, and Rana Farhan Live in San Francisco on Friday, February 28, 2020. After successful performances in Canada, the trio will perform their songs with Karmandan and Steven Toub. Join us for an evening of music and community. 2/3/20

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