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The Montreal World Film Festival



DAILIES IN FRENCH ENGLISH

The MONTREAL WORLD FILM FESTIVAL (INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF MONTREAL) is the only competitive film festival in North America recognized by the FIAPF.

Montreal ranks among the most prestigious festivals in the world. Filmfestivals.com rates this festival in the top 10

The 2017 Festival edition will run August 24 - September 4

Check our full coverage 2014  full coverage of 2013

 


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Iranian three grand peaces at Montreal FFM

 

by Dejan Nikolaj Kraljacic - Dex (Montreal )

 

Although one of the most successful cinemas in the festival circuit since the mid-1990s, it seems that this year’s MMF offer of Iranian films should undoubtably resonate for a long time.
Obviously, each year we are witnessing more and more courageous Iranian films given the context of their country of origin (absolutely the most restrictive worldwide in terms of censorship, ever!), but, I would say that finally Abolfazl Saffary’s From Tehran to Heaven (Az Tehran Ta Behesht) is a truly groundbreaking achievement.


First of all,  this movie is an ultimate cinematic experience in the vein of ongoing modern aesthetics around the globe, in which dynamic editing and frenetic camera movements suspensefully follow a pregnant heroine in her quest for (painful) truth, after being abruptly abandoned by her husband (who left her only an enigmatic note that he had to go to heaven), and then by all local authorities. Secondly, Saffary’s film (which he also co-wrote) is a highly sophisticated mixture of genres that provide very deep meaning. With reduced, economic dialogue, this, in a way phantasmagoric road movie, successfully blends action (i.e. chase film) and thriller - mystery (protagonist’s determined effort to find out who was actually her husband), resulting in a powerful portrait of completely understandable escalation of the heroine’s paranoia. After she suffered beatings from unknown attackers at the beginning, the movie shows us clearly (rather than speaks up, e.g. during some dinner, which is very common solution in Iranian cinema) severe repression of freedom, especially in relation to the women’s rights, probably more convincing than we have ever experienced before. In favor of my notion that this film is so radical and fresh, are very indicative comments of some of the Iranian filmmakers at this year's Festival who are also fighting for creative freedom in their country, yet every one of them agrees in that From Tehran to Heaven is a too dark vision of the Iranian society. Therefore thanks to Saffary’s skillful genre approach, his expressive directing that even evokes De Palma’s early works (such as the Obsession, 1976), and climax in the western ending in the desert (with some shots in John Ford fashion, i.e. The Searchers, or in Leone's spaghetti), From Tehran to Heaven actually delivers fundamental critique of the society.  

 

In addition, even the most famous Iranian filmmaker ever - Abbas Kiarostami proposes different approaches to film styles, challenging the real meaning of so often seen social dramas. In great American documentary made by Iranian filmmaker Bahman Maghsoudlou - Abbas Kiarostami - A Report, also screened at the festival, Kiarostami gave a true wisdom, which is that social drama, as a genre, does not make any sense nowadays, because our contemporary society has reached the level where people are already well-prepared for all consequences of every personal act in advance, according to the requirements of the law. In other words, there is no room for choice, and therefore for any personal dilemma, i.e. conflict - drama. In focus of Maghsoudlou’s Report is Kiarostami’s first feature that was made just before the Islamic revolution in 1979,  but, at the same time, this documentary actually sharpens the differences between the two opposite regimes. 

 

Finally, a documentary for both, the true film connoisseurs, as well as anyone interested in what is hiding behind a pure cinematic experience (that directly deals with social-ideological-cultural issues), a quite impressive American film made by Iranian Jamsheed Akrami A Cinema of Discontent is certainly of immense importance.

In the words of many filmmakers and stars (starting with internationally best known Jafar Panahi), enriched with a considerable number of clips even from movies that we have not had a chance to see, Akrami’s rather dynamic documentary shows very explicitly a problem of censorship in Iran, and reveals rich palette of devices created filmmakers to avoid it (about 100 films are banned in Iran).

In other words, many artistic, subtle and poetic solutions that made Iranian cinema recognized around the world as the unique one, very often are, more or less proficient, just figures of speech, in attempt to hide "explicit content" (meaning such content as a physical contact between the opposite gender like shaking hands, or a father and his adult daughter farewell hug - only allowed contact is if they are fighting, i.e. beating each other). The film also shows those who were not imaginative enough, so we can find a shot of a woman sitting alone in her apartment while drying her hair with a hair dryer under hijab (?!).

Overall, Akrami’s documentary should be primarily recognized as a warning, raising a crucial question about the perspective of the entire Iranian cinema, especially on the world stage - how long (and to what extent) would their filmmakers be able to create fresh solutions in order to avoid such a brutal censorship, and without repeating themselves?

 

 

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About The Montreal World Film Festival

Losique Serge

The MONTREAL WORLD FILM FESTIVAL (INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF MONTREAL)is the only competitive film festival in North America recognized by the FIAPF.

Montreal ranks among the most prestigious festivals in the world.
2015 Coverage  includes 120 articles and interviews with winning producers and directors. It was provided by Musivision Films, Laurie Gordon Musivision (video interview), Tom Llewellin, Ken Fernandez,  Dejan Nikolaj Kraljacic and Bruno Chatelin

 


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