The constant arrests and impediments of its filmmakers hasn’t stopped Iranian cinema from soaring to greater heights.
After the showcase of Iranian cinema at Berlin, Cannes and Karlovy Vary, Venice has five films from the country, two of which are in competition, reports Variety.
What’s more? Leila Hatami, star of Cannes festival jurist Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Separation’, is a member of Venice’s main jury panel.
“We have never received so many submissions from Iran, and many of them are good,” says Venice chief Alberto Barbera, quoted by Variety.
He notes that “the paradox is that this is happening at a time when the Iranian regime is among the most rigidly conservative and repressive in the world,” and is responding to uprisings sparked by the country’s harsh economic conditions by re-incarcerating directors such as Jafar Panahi, whose latest film “No Bears” launches from Venice, fellow dissident filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, and others “who try to freely express their opposing points of view.”
According to Variety, Barbera calls Panahi’s ‘No Bears’, which interweaves two parallel stories where the lovers face hidden obstacles, including the force of Iranian superstition and the country’s power dynamics, “his best film in a decade,” noting that “it’s not a political film. It’s actually a romance.”
Panahi and Rasoulof in a statement issued at the fest from Tehran’s Evin prison said the “hope of creating again” is a “reason for existence.” They also underlined that “independent cinema reflects its own times. It draws inspiration from society. And cannot be indifferent to it.”
“Somehow there is more potential in suffering,” says Iranian auteur Vahid Jalilvand, speaking from Tehran, whose third feature ‘Beyond the Wall’ premieres in competition at Venice. His first two films, ‘Wednesday, May 9’ and ‘No Date, No Signature’, previously played in the fest’s Horizons sidebar.