Arts / Persian movies in the reel world

A scene from the festival's opening night movie, Asghari Farhadi’s Cannes winner, "The Salesman".

A scene from the festival’s opening night movie, Asghari Farhadi’s Cannes winner, “The Salesman”.

A HUGELY successful, contemporary film festival founded by a Canberra-raised film director and ANU graduate is coming to town at last, in its 5th year of operation.

The Persian International Film Festival gives access to Iran’s sophisticated cinema as well as works by Persian-speaking filmmakers from the global diaspora, including Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Husband-and-wife team, director Amin Palangi and manager Sanaz Fotouhi, say the aim is partly to shift views and misconceptions in Australia and, to that end, the line-up of seven feature films, seven shorts and three documentaries includes Cannes debut prize-winner “Nahid” by Iranian female filmmaker Ida Panahandeh, in which a young divorcee is thwarted in her intention to marry the man she loves.

Palangi and Fotouhi have secured as the opener Asghari Farhadi’s Cannes-winner “The Salesman”, in which a young Tehrani couple are forced to move into a new apartment where incidents linked to the previous tenant will dramatically change their lives.

Cannes debut prize-winning documentary “Nahid”.

Cannes debut prize-winning documentary “Nahid”.

By joining with the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, they’ll also have Iranian director Majid Barzegar to talk after the screening of his recent films “A Very Ordinary Citizen” and “Parviz”.

The selected films focus on ordinary people in the here and now, but there is also a tribute to the late pioneer of Iranian “New Wave” cinema Abbas Kiarostami, who died in July, having made more than 40 films.

Amin Palangi is well-known as part of an all-artist family in Canberra, where he was schooled. After completing a PhD in film studies from the ANU, he took out an MA in scriptwriting from AFTRS.

His debut feature documentary “Love Marriage in Kabul” was a finalist at the Walkley Awards and won a swag of other accolades, including the Audience Choice Award at Sydney Film Festival.

It is hardly surprising, then, that he has made highly original docos central to his festival, again focusing on ordinary people. In Moein Karimoddini’s film “Atlan”, a young man trains his favourite horse for a grand race in a northern Iranian province, but the horse has other ideas.

“Cinema Verité” is the name of Tehran’s documentary film festival. In this festival, whether factual or fictional, it’s all verité.

Persian Film Festival, September 30 to October 2. Program and bookings at

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