The Iranian Film Festival of Australia Kicks Off This November


The Iranian Film Festival of Australia (IFFA) invites audiences to celebrate the resilience and creativity of Iranian cinema in this year’s Festival taking place in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth from 16 Nov to 13 December.
Forced to pause in 2022 in response to the recent social and political changes in Iran, the festival this year returns with a remarkable program of thought-provoking, heart-warming, and award-winning feature films and documentaries showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of Iran and demonstrating that the unwavering spirit of storytelling shines brightly despite challenging times.  Thirteen films will be presented, including eleven Australian premieres and both the 2023 UK and the 2024 Iranian official entries for the Academy Awards, as well as six award winning shorts. A late addition to the program is a retrospective honouring acclaimed director Dariush Mehruji who was tragically killed last week.

Festival Director Armin Miladi said: “The 11th Iranian Film Festival Australia (IFFA) carries extra significance this year. Against the backdrop of Iran’s evolving landscape and challenges, we’ve shifted our focus to films about filmmaking, particularly highlighting the burgeoning underground cinema movement in Iran. Amid bans and societal divides, a new wave of underground and independent cinema has emerged, demonstrating the resilience of Iranian filmmakers. IFFA spotlights this resilience, featuring five films that showcase the innovative approaches of filmmakers who overcome obstacles. We invite you to join us and experience the diverse facets of Iranian culture and cinema, from emerging talents to the legacy of iconic masters, offering an unfiltered perspective on Iran through the lens of its tenacious filmmakers.”

Opening this year’s festival is The LOCUST, written and directed by Faeze Azizkhani and winner of this year’s Global Award at the South By Southwest Festival.  Hanieh is a forty year old woman who has written a film script based on her own life. Now she is faced with the judgment of the others who call her ’bastard’ The film stars Pegah Ahangarani who has now left Iran and Hanieh Tavassoli who was temporarily detained this year because of her political remarks on social media but has recently been released.
Closing the Festival is WINNERS, written and directed by Hassan Nazzer. The UK official entry for the Oscars, the 2023 multi-BAFTA nominated film has won multiple awards including the Edinburgh Film Festival Audience Prize. In a small provincial Iranian town, the children work hard to support their families. One day nine-year-old Yahya and his friend Leyla find a precious statue. Sharing a passion for cinema, Yahya’s boss decides to help them find the owner.
Iran’s controversial official entry for the 2024 Academy awards is THE NIGHT GUARDIAN, directed by Reza Mirkarimi Due to drought, Rasoul has left the village. He is glad to find a job as a night guardian at a complex under construction. In the deserted construction site, something wrong is going on. In the strange circumstances around him, Rasoul finds himself trapped…

Two documentaries honour Iranian filmmakers who inspire audiences worldwide.
SEE YOU FRIDAY, ROBINSON which had its world premiere at the Berlinale in 2022 is a splendid ode to the correspondence between two cinema greats Jean Luc Godard and Ebrahim Golestan who passed away earlier this year. Director Mitra Farahani’s film presents an insight into the role of the artist in the 20th and 21st centuries, with nothing less than razor-sharp insight and humour.
KIAROSTAMI AT WORK is a documentary showcasing Abbas Kiarostami’s boundless passion for work and creativity. The film features images captured by director Seifollah Samadian during their thirty years of friendship and travels together, including behind-the-scenes footage of ‘Shirin’, ‘Certified Copy’ by the late Hamideh Razavi, and ‘Taste of Cherry’ by Bahman Kiarostami. Juliette Binoche, Martin Scorsese, and some others have shared insights into Kiarostami’s creative works.
ZAPATA directed by Danesh Eqbashavi is the story of Shahrzad, a young writer, tries to help her cousin, Amir, who struggling to raise money for his next film. She decides to film the different stages of their daily lives through her cellphone. But Amir puts his own life, Shahrzad’s and the film they are making, on a course of unexpected events. Zapata Premiered in Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2023.
In DARK MATTER, nominated for Proxima Award at 2023 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, written and directed by Karim Lakzadeh, an actor and actress are brought together during a casting for a mainstream film. They don’t get the roles, so they decide to make their own film instead. The pair become a threesome when they get hold of a cameraman and director named Ziya, and the enchanting adventure can now begin. A burglary (the movie has to be financed somehow) marks the start of not only the shoot, but also a joyride, a game and a celebration of friendship and film. Dark Matter is a latter-day nod to the French New Wave and likewise a highly contemporary piece that reminds us why films are both a joy to make and to watch.
In Vahid Jalilvand’s gripping psychological thriller, BEYOND THE WALL, a near blind man hides a terrified mother from the police after a protect turns into a riot. The film was nominated for Best Feature film at the 2022 Venice Film Festival.
A late addition to the program is a newly restored version of Dariush Mehruji’s multi award winning  THE COW. In a small village in Iran, Hassan cherishes his cow more than anything in the world. While he is away, the cow mysteriously dies, and the villagers protectively try to convince Hassan the cow has wandered off. Grief stricken, Hassan begins to believe he is his own beloved bovine. Neorealism, surrealism and mysticism meld in this groundbreaking, deeply moving Iranian New Wave film.  THE COW was funded by the Iranian government, yet was immediately banned after completion due to its negative portrayal of rural Iranian poverty. The film was smuggled to the Venice Film Festival in 1971 where it won the FIPRESCI or critics’ prize. The film will screen with a never seen before ‘ behind the scenes of making The Cow’.
Dariush Mehrjui was an Iranian filmmaker and a member of the Iranian Academy of the Arts. Mehrjui was a founding member of the Iranian New Wave movement of the early 1970s. His second film, The Cow, is considered to be the first film of this movement. Most of his films are inspired by literature and adapted from Iranian and foreign novels and plays. On 14 October 2023, Mehrjui and his wife were found stabbed to death in their home in the city of Karaj, near Tehran.
In solidarity with our Iranian friends and filmmakers, this edition of IFFA is dedicated to the unwavering passion for cinema that persevered through trying times.

Bookings can be made through presenting cinemas or via the IFFA website

The Iranian Film Festival of Australia 2023 screens in the following locations:
Sydney 16 – 22 Nov, Dendy Newtown
Canberra 17 – 19 Nov, NFSA ARC cinema
Melbourne 23 – 29 Nov, Cinema Nova
Brisbane 30 Nov – 6 Dec, Elizabeth Pic Theatre
Adelaide 1 – 3 Dec, Mercury Cinema
Perth 7 – 13 Dec, Luna Cinema Leederville

Press Release

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