September 24, 2023

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Exploring life of Kiarostami, Dowlatabadi on silver screen

TEHRAN-Three Iranian movies will be shown at the 28th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) slated for October 4 to 13 in South Korea.

The lineup includes the documentary “Kiarostami at Work” by Kiarostami’s longtime friend and collaborator Seifollah Samadian, the documentary “An Owl, A Garden & The Writer” by Sara Dowlatabadi, and the short film “21 Weeks Later” by Nasrin Mohammadpour, according to the event’s official website. 

A 2023 production, “Kiarostami at Work” is a 76-minute documentary about the late Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, which is directed, edited, and produced by Kiarostami’s longtime friend and collaborator Samadian.

In its first international presence, the film is to be screened at the Wide Angle-Documentary Showcase section of the event.

“Kiarostami at Work” is a documentary showcasing the filmmaker’s boundless passion for work and creativity. The film features images captured by Samadian during their thirty years of friendship and travels together, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of “Shirin” and “Certified Copy” by the late Hamideh Razavi, and “Taste of Cherry” by Bahman Kiarostami. Juliette Binoche, Martin Scorsese, and some others have also shared insights into Kiarostami’s creative works in the movie.

Kiarostami (1940-2016) was honored with the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award the 21st edition of the BIFF three months after his death in 2016. The award is presented to Asian cineastes or organizations that have shown the most outstanding contribution to developing the Asian film industry and culture.

He was one of the most influential directors in the world. He participated in the BIFF as the head of the New Currents jurors in 2005 and as Dean of Asian Film Academy (AFA) in 2010. Showing his special support and affection towards Asian film students, the late director also participated in a workshop ‘Kiarostami’s Film School’, held by the Busan Cinema Center in 2012.

Born in Tehran, Kiarostami studied painting at the University of Tehran and started working as a graphic designer. His first movie “Where Is the Friend’s Home?” (1987) was awarded the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. “Close-Up” (1990), one of his films, was ranked 42nd in British Film Institute’s The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. 

He was the only Iranian filmmaker who won the Palme D’Or, the top prize at Cannes, with his 1997 film ‘Taste of Cherry’, a film to appreciate life in a delicate way based on Iranian values.

An active filmmaker for about five decades, Kiarostami made over 40 films, including features, shorts, and documentaries. In addition to filmmaking, he was also a poet, photographer, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer.

Dowlatabadi’s life on screen

“An Owl, A Garden & The Writer” directed and produced by Sara Dowlatabadi will compete at the Wide Angle – Documentary Competition section of the BIFF.

Exploring life of Kiarostami, Dowlatabadi on silver screen

A production of 2023, the 83-minute documentary is a joint production of Iran, France and Switzerland about the life of Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, 83, who is one of the most prolific Iranian novelists.

In this beautiful, poetic portrait, gracefully crafted by his filmmaker daughter Sara, he reflects on his life throughout the turbulent 20th century.

The film is a highly lyrical and delicate, yet powerful, depiction of a writer of mythical proportions, humanizing him along the way and educating the audience on the Iranian history in the past decades. It weaves together all aspects of her beloved father within a memorable document. Memory is the treasurer of illusions, the force that holds traces of the past in the mind. Sara Dowlatabadi holds the key to that treasure and in her documentary unlocks the valuable contents of her father’s life and soul. 

The film previously won the Works in Progress Post-Production Development Award at Karlovy Vary Film Festival in 2021.

Mahmoud Dowlatabadi is a celebrated Iranian writer known for his promotion of social and artistic freedom in contemporary Iran and his realist depictions of rural life, drawn from personal experience. 

His famous works include “Kelidar,” “Missing Soluch,” “The Colonel,” and “Thirst” among others.

Dowlatabadi is celebrated as one of the most important writers in contemporary Iran, particularly for his use of language. He elevates rural speech, drawing on the rich, lyrical tradition of Persian poetry. He examines the complexities and moral ambiguities of the experience of the poor and forgotten, mixing the brutality of that world with the lyricism of the Persian language. 

Vying for short film award

Representing Iran at the Wide Angle – Asian Short Film Competition section of the BIFF, the short film “21 Weeks Later” directed and produced by Nasrin Mohammadpour will vie for the main award of the section.

The 14-minute film is a 2023 production is about a young woman who has decides to have an abortion while her husband disagrees.

Banafsheh Riazi, Leila Hassanzadeh, Soudabeh Bahraminejad, and Parisa Asgari are in the cast.

The two competition sections are dedicated to outstanding short and documentary films that offer broad cinematic viewpoints and distinct visions.

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), held annually in Busan, South Korea, is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. The main focus of the BIFF is to introduce new films and first-time directors, especially those from Asian countries. Another notable feature is the appeal of the festival to young people, both in terms of the large youthful audience it attracts and through its efforts to develop and promote young talent. 


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