The Middle East Now festival will present a film program “Focus on Iran”

At this edition of Middle East Now, the highly anticipated event held once a year in Florence, Italy, Iranian cinema occupies a special place in the festival’s programming.

Among the titles enjoying their Italian premiere is the feature film To imagine (2022, pictured above) by Ali Behrad, his first feature presented this year at the Cannes Film Festival as part of Critics’ Week. In the film, a taxi driver falls in love at night with a woman he can’t have, played by star Leila Hatami, whose appearances always make a movie a hit. It’s a dream tale that tells a love story that plays with fantasy and imagination.

Also from Iran, two beautiful short films, including the award-winning documentary the doll by Elahe Esmaili (2022), in which a 35-year-old father accepts the marriage of his 14-year-old daughter, a decision that triggers a heated confrontation in the family in the face of very different perspectives and shared values ​​between them. Also barter by Ziba Karamali and Emad Araad (2021), which stars Parsa, a thirteen-year-old boy, who tries to hide a secret from his father, making it a shortened Farhadi-style thriller.

The closing film of the festival will be World War III by Houman Seyedi, a film which won the first Orizzonti Prize in Venice at the beginning of September. The film also won Best Actor at Venice’s Mohsen Tanabandeh, its acting unconventional, and was selected as Iran’s submission for this year’s Oscar race.

Shakib (Tanabandeh) is a day laborer who finds himself catapulted onto a movie set. The film chronicles the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler during World War II. When the actor who plays Hitler dies suddenly, he is replaced by Shakib, who strangely resembles the Führer. Soon the directors themselves turn into dictators, ready to do anything to achieve their goals and unwittingly turn Shakib into a monster. The film will be screened at Middle East Now in the presence of director Houman Seyedi and distributor Mohammad Atebbai.

Among the special events running alongside MENow’s film program is “Bound Narrative: A Photobook Library” curated by Lebanese Roï Saade and hosted at the Museo Novecento. One of the precious books on display will be ‘Zanjir’, an imagined written and photographic conversation between UK-based Iranian artist Amak Mahmoodian and Persian princess and memoirist Taj Saltaneh. In ‘Zanjir’, Amak Mahmoodian draws on images from the 19th century king’s collection housed in the Golestan Archives in Tehran and photographs she took in Iran to explore feelings of loss and separation from family and the homeland. Through memories and dreams, ‘Zanjir’ mythologizes absence and presence. The present which continually exists in the past, and the past which continually exists in the present.

About Debra D. Johnson

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