“History of Film Festivals” at Kanoon Iranian London

Posted by By at 20 May, at 12 : 08 PM Print

“History of Film Festivals” at Kanoon Iranian London

On Friday evening of May 20th at 7 pm, Kanoon Iran, The Center for Preservation of Iranian Culture and Art in London, had another program with Dr. Bahman Maghsoudlou. The subject was the history of film festivals and the Iranian short film’s current role in them.

The program began with Dr. Ghassemi, the director and founder of the Kanoon, seizing the opportunity to honor the eminent scholar Iraj Afshar, who had passed away a few weeks earlier, and then introducing Mr. Maghsoudlou as his guest for the third time at the Central Library, Kensington Town Hall in London.


The auditorium was filled to capacity; even with the addition of extra chairs and the willingness of some attendees to sit on the floor, they still had to turn away people at the door. Later Dr. Ghassemi said that of the almost thirty years of monthly programs by eminent Iranians from around the world, the night was the second most crowded in its history.


Maghsoudlou spoke briefly about the history of film festivals, from initial events to their development as a world scene. He then spoke about the first Iranian shorts to be featured in festivals, all three by Feri (Mostafa) Farzaneh, a graduate of the IDHEC Film School (1957) in Paris, who received prizes for all three of his first short films: Iranian Miniatures (Venice, 1959), Cyrus the Great (Cannes, 1961) and The Woman and Animal (Locarno, 1962).

This opened the door to more short films by Iranian filmmakers participating in international festivals, notably works by Ibrahim Golestan, Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Faroughi Qajar, Hajir Daryush, Houshang Shafti, and Khosrow Sinai in the ’60s, and Sohrab Shahid Saless, Abbas Kia-Rostami, Manouchehr Tayyab, Naser Taghvai, Parviz Kimiavi, Amir Naderi, Ali Akbar Sadeghi, Mohammad Reza Aslani and Kamran Shirdel in the ’70s.

Maghsoudlou told of how he was founder and curator of the first Iranian film festival at the Bombay Cinema in New York in 1980-1981, which showed both short and feature films from Iranian filmmakers. The festival was so successful that Andrew Sarris, the great film critic, wrote about it in his weekly film criticism in the Village Voice (September 1981, December 1981). It was also written up in Variety, among other notable magazines.

Maghsoudlou then spoke about the second Iranian film festival he had established in New York, the International Short Film Festival: Independent Films on Iran, founded with the Ziba Foundation in 2007. (Click www.nyisff.com) There then followed a screening of the five films that had garnered awards at that festival: Shahrokh Babhrololumi’s The Season of Soil (Gold Prize), Hamy Ramezan’s Just Waiting (Best Fiction), Naser Zeraati’s Underneath My Father’s House (Best Documentary), Hassan Solhjoo’s Fish Talking (Special Jury Prize), and Alireza Darvish’s What If Spring Does Not Come? (Special Jury Prize).


The screening continued with a showing of Bahman Ghobadi’s Life in Fog, a 1998 IFVC production that set a record by winning prizes at more than fifteen international film festivals, the most in the history of Iranian cinema.

After an enthusiastic response from the audience, Dr. Maghsoudlou talked briefly about how this small group of filmmakers along with a number of their colleagues had established the basis of Iranian cinema that, after the revolution in the ’80s and the 90s, has resulted in a flourish of Iranian cinema at all film festivals.


As per tradition, a question and answer period followed and the audience was served tea, coffee and pastry provided by Kanoon Iran. Interestingly enough, the usual group of monthly members who attend this gathering at the library were joined by many new and young faces on this particular evening. Among the distinguished attendees were Dr. Esmail Khoei, Masoud Behnoud, Effat Mahbaz, Dr. Sabetian, and many journalists and reporters.
Andrew Sarris, Village Voice, September 23-29, 1981
Andrew Sarris, Village Voice, December, 23-29, 1981
Variety, Wednesday, September 9, 1981

Four reports on this event, from Kayhan, a weekly newspaper in London, and Roozonline.com, are below:
Kayhan London, Thursday June 2, 2011, Lecture by Dr. Bahman Maghsoudlou
Kayhan London, Thursday June 2, 2011, Honoring Iraj Afshar
Roozonline, Goftegu, Thursday June 16, 2011
Roozonline, Sharh, Thursday June 16, 2011

Photos by Adom Saboonchian



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