The inaugural festival presents a selection of acclaimed and award-winning films from one of the world’s most vital and distinguished national cinemas. The festival aims to unite two strands of Iranian film – the classic Iranian art-house genre beloved by cinephiles around the world, and new cutting-edge works by younger Iranian directors. All 10 premieres will screen at IFC Center in Downtown Manhattan. Here’re my picks:
1. Tale of the Sea
Directed by Bahman Farmanara
Taher Mohebi is a well-known writer who, after witnessing a violent murder, breaks down and spends three years in a mental institution. After his release, he is told that things are just as they were before, but his relentless hallucinations make him want to return to the institution.
→ Watch trailer
Showtimes: Thursday, January 10 at 7 pm and 9:40 pm
2. Hendi & Hormoz
Directed by Abbas Amini
On the island of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, according to local custom, thirteen-year-old Hendi is married off to sixteen-year-old Hormoz. Despite the fact that the young couple hardly know each other, they fully enjoy the beginning of their married life together. However, events occur which darken their original joy and lead to unexpected outcomes.
→ Watch trailer
Showtimes: Friday, January 11 at 9:30
Directed by Mani Haghighi
This is a story of Hasan, a blacklisted director, who hasn’t been allowed to make a film in years. His favorite actress, Shiva, is impatient and wants to work only with other directors. His wife, Goli, seems to have fallen out of love with him. His daughter, Alma, is all grown up and taken off on her own. His old loving mother is losing her mind. He might consider casting his attractive stalker, Annie, if only he could make a film.
To make matters worse, Hasan is upset that he is being inexplicably ignored by the serial killer who has been decapitating the country’s best filmmakers. All these frustrations come to a head when, through a series of bizarre misunderstandings, Hasan becomes the prime suspect in the serial killer’s case. Social media is abuzz with false accusations, and Hasan must come up with an ingenious plan to restore his reputation.
4. I Want to Dance
Directed by Bahman Farmanara
Mr. Farzaneh is a lonely, sad writer who has been facing writer’s block for a long time now. After an accident leaves him with the echo of a rhythmic Persian dance song in his head, all he wants to do is dance. But everything thinks he’s gone crazy. His new behavior stirs trouble not only with his family but also with the authorities.
Directed by Kamal Tabrizi
Ghodrat Allah Samadi’s ultimate goal is to become a parliament member, but he has a history of taking arbitrary actions. He decides to negotiat with fundamentalist parties and figures, but no one takes him seriously — until he becomes (in)famous, at which point a reformist party tries to include his name in their parliamentary election list. But when he’s disqualified by the Guardian Council, he begins to take illegal actions and escapes to Turkey, joining the monarchists. Remembering his past though, he feels ashamed and returns to Iran, trying to resume his life.
6. The Home
Directed by Asghar Yousefinejad
When Sayeh’s father dies, leaving behind a will that requests his relatives to give his body to the autopsy room of the city’s medical college, she disagrees with her late father’s demand and refuses to deliver the body to the college agent. As the only child and inheritor, she feels it is up to her to decide what is best – regardless of the authorities or extended family who attempt to get in the way and change her mind.
7. 3 Faces
Directed by Jafar Panahi
Well-known actress Behnaz Jafari is distraught by a provincial girl’s video plea for help — oppressed by her family to not pursue her studies at the Tehran drama conservatory. Behnaz abandons her shoot and turns to filmmaker Jafar Panahi to help solve the mystery of the young girl’s troubles. They travel by car to the rural northwest where they have amusing encounters with the charming folk of the girl’s mountain village. But the city visitors soon discover that the protection of age-old traditions is as generous as local hospitality
8. 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Kiarostami
Directed by Seifollah Samadian
This is a Portrait of an artist, whose exceptional approach to art and life, defined him as one of the most ardent admirers of life itself. The leading aim of this documentary is to share 76 minutes and 15 seconds of undiscovered moments of Abbas Kiarostami’s life and work, in commemoration of his 76 years and 15 days of creative journey. The shots of this documentary are selected out of hundreds of hours of footages , filmed during 25 years of friendship, inside and outside Iran in various occasions: film festivals, photo exhibitions, photography sessions, artistic events, workshops and some unique moments of his daily life.
Directed by Houman Seyyedi
The story of a gang of drug dealers in the south of Tehran who have sheltered countless orphans and troubled kids from the streets. Brothers Shahin and Shakoor lead the gang, but when it collapses they’re thrown into a crisis impacting each other and the rest of their family’s lives.