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Iranian Cinema (12th Annual Celebration)

  • By Judy Lin Eftekhar
  • Published Jan 1, 2002 8:00 AM

Since 1990, the UCLA Film and Television Archive has assembled a series of extraordinary new films from Iran. The 12th Annual Celebration of Iranian Cinema, running through Sunday, February 10, continues to chart the post-revolutionary ascendance of one of the most vibrant national cinemas in the world today.

"This year's program is particularly compelling with its exploration of everyday Iranian life, gender issues and the heated political situation in Iran and its neighboring countries," says Cheng-Sim Lim, who curated the program.

Produced in a country where creative restrictions on filmmakers are rigorous, these films nevertheless succeed in providing a rare window into the lives of ordinary people in a part of the world that remains mysterious to many. While individually divergent in style and theme, Iranian films have long captured the imagination of international festival audiences, elevating a concern for the daily struggles of ordinary people to cinematic epiphany.

Upcoming films, all in their Los Angeles premieres, are in Farsi with English subtitles. They include:

Gol Chador Directed by Amir Ali Abdollah Zadeh A documentary. A would-be mother desperately seeking someone to take care of her unborn baby encounters an assortment of people, resulting in moments of both levity and dread.

My Name is Rocky Directed by Bahman Mobasher The courtroom camera bears heartbreaking witness to the growing population of runaway girls and young women in Tehran, painting a shocking picture of a hopeless generation of young Iranians caught in a purgatory of familial pressures and social restrictions.

Under the Skin of the City Directed by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad Restlessness and discontent brim over in the visceral new film by leading Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (Nargess, the Blue-Veiled). Centered around a strong-willed matriarch, this gritty drama about a working-class family struggling to get ahead in Tehran weaves an emotionally complex quilt of an urban Iran in the throes of change.

Tabaki Directed by Bahman Kiarostami A charming short, in a slyly understated style, about professional mourners in Iran.

To Have or Not to Have Directed by Niki Karimi Acclaimed Iranian actress Niki Karimi steps behind the camera for this deceptively simple documentary about childless couples in a society where infertility can seriously threaten a marriage.

Shrapnels in Peace Directed by Ali Shah-Hatami A harrowing study, with an anti-war stance, of two boys who eke out a threadbare existence scavenging scrap metal from abandoned battlefields on the border between Iran and Iraq.

Going By Directed by Iraj Karimi The first feature by a noted Iranian film critic, Going By follows four cars traveling from Tehran northwards to the Caspian Sea. The quartet of stories renders the journey as a meditation on life and death.