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Persian International Film Festival

Watch 50 years of Iranian cinema evolve before your eyes at the Persian International Film Festival.

Persian International Film Festival

A Special Retrospective Program has been carefully curated to showcase Iranian films spanning five decades, painting a vivid picture of how Iranian cinema and the societies and cultures it has reflected have changed over the years.

From 22 August until 1 September 2013, films from as early as 1969 right through to 2011 will be shown as part of the unique Retrospective Program alongside newer releases in the main program. The retrospective has been carefully chosen by festival directors Amin Palangi and Sanaz Fotouhi, in consultation with Dr. Michelle Langford one of the leading scholars of Iranian Cinema in Australia, to be juxtaposed against recent entrants, to demonstrate how general themes and storylines in Iranian cinema has changed along with the times.

Artistic Director Amin Palangi says the changing Persian cinematic themes have been caused by a general shift in societal and cultural values in the region. “Regardless of the social or political changes and pressures on Iranian cinema, Iranian filmmakers are one of the most influential in the world today.”

“Starting with films such as The Cow (1969) and Bashu, The Little Stranger (1986) to more recent films such as About Elly (2009) or Offside (2008) the diversity of individual voices have been captured through stories from the regions to middle class dramas in major cities which in a sense showcase the transformation of culture and society in the past few decades,” he explains.

The Cow (1969), a film about the bond between a villager and his cow, is considered the greatest and most important film of Iranian cinema history. Made just before the Islamic Revolution, the film showcases great symbolism and realism that would later become a defining characteristic of Iranian cinema. Similarly, Bashu, The Little Stranger (1969) explores the life of a little boy whose family is killed in a village during the Iran-Iraq war and who suddenly finds himself out of his local setting in a social and linguistic context that he does not understand.

These political and societal changes are seen in The Runner (1985), one of the first post-revolutionary Iranian films to attract International and Western audiences, about a young boy who dreams of new horizons after seeing airplanes and tankers come and go. Meanwhile in Two Women (1998), two best friends end up leading very different lives when one is free to become a successful engineer while the other has to deal with the social confines set by her conservative family.

A change in perspective from rural settings to urban settings is seen in About Elly (2009), a film considered to be one of the most grossly successful Iranian films on the international level. Setting new thresholds for other filmmakers, International audiences are now seeing previously unseen aspects of everyday life in Iran by exploring the experiences of young people.

The influence of the international Persian diaspora is explored in Kandahar (2001). Released during a time of great change around the world, the film tells the story of an Afghan journalist who fled from her country to escape the Taliban civil war, only to be faced with the ordeal of returning to help her sister. The film reflects similar themes in the PFF opening night film A Respectable Family (2012), an Iranian film noir about an academic who returns home after two decades in the West to a country he no longer recognises.

Persian films coming out of the region or made by international Persian filmmakers, are no strangers to the international film festival circuit today. Festival co-director Sanaz Fotouhi says the increase in attention to Iranian cinema really escalated in the early 1990s.

“As a region that has experienced so much change and turmoil over decades, it’s no surprise that it has produced such great films over the years,” Fotouhi adds. “Film allows international audiences to catch a glimpse of the everyday lives of Persian people not just in Afghanistan or Iran, but also from their diasporic communities across the globe.”

Not only has the subject matter changed throughout the evolution of Persian Cinema; the styles have also diversified. Close-Up (1990) is considered emblematic of the Iranian New Wave, and brought together two of its key figures, Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Dark humour, as evident in A Few Kilos of Dates For a Funeral (2006), has also become a defining feature. This is contrasted by the whimsical and quite obviously French comedy of the closing night feature Chicken With Plums (2011), directed by internationally acclaimed director and cartoonist Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud.

There are more films on offer at the Persian International Film Festival as part of the Retrospective Program, Short Film program and main program. Recent films shown in the festival will be eligible to win the Audience Choice Awards. Audiences are invited to vote for the ‘Best Feature’ and ‘Best Short Film’. Voters will go into a draw to win a DVD set by Iranian master filmmakers thanks to Madman.

The Festival’s opening and closing nights are a tribute to Persian culture with pre and post film celebrations involving Persian Tea, dancers and the ever popular Persian sweets.

Managed by Palangi Productions, the Festival debuted last year and will screen films at Dendy Cinemas in Circular Quay and Newtown in Sydney.

Stay tuned for more announcements around the Festival.

To see more of the Persian International Film Festival program, for information on other events and to buy tickets go to and

Festival Screenings

Thurs 22 August 7pm A Respectable Family Dendy Opera Quays
Fri 23 August 6.30pm Horn + Before the Burial Dendy Opera Quays
Fri 23 August 9pm The Boxes + My Sweet Pepper Land Dendy Opera Quays
Sat 24 August 2pm Blind Owl Wedding Hall + It’s a Dream Dendy Opera Quays
Sat 24 August 6.30pm Tehran: The 25th Hour + Offside Dendy Opera Quays
Sat 24 August 9pm Broken Smile + Like Someone in Love Dendy Opera Quays
Sun 25 August 2pm Under the Colours + Kahrizak, Four Views Dendy Opera Quays
Sun 25 August 4pm More Than Two Hours + About Elly Dendy Opera Quays
Sun 25 August 6pm Two Women Dendy Opera Quays
Sun 25 August 8pm Needle + From Tehran to London Dendy Opera Quays
Mon 26 August 7pm When the Kid Was A Kid + Fireworks Wednesday Dendy Opera Quays
Wed 28 August 6.30pm Bozkushi Boys + Kandahar Dendy Opera Quays
Wed 28 August 8.30pm Duet + A Few Kilos of Dates for a Funeral Dendy Opera Quays
Thurs 29 August 6.30pm The Cow Dendy Newtown
Fri 30 August 6.30pm Colour of Paradise Dendy Newtown
Sat 31 August 2pm Bashu Dendy Newtown
Sat 31 August 4pm Gilaneh Dendy Newtown
Sat 31 August 6.30pm Turtles Can Fly Dendy Newtown
Sun 01 September 2pm Close-Up Dendy Newtown
Sun 01 September 4pm The Runner Dendy Newtown
Sun 01 September 6.30pm Chicken With Plums Dendy Opera Quays

Where: Dendy Newtown: 261-263 King Street, Newtown; Dendy Opera Quays: Shop 9, 2 East Street, Circular Quay

Tickets on sale at

Opening and Closing Night: $30

Session tickets: Adults $18 / Concession $16

Multi Passes: 6 Pass $90 / 10 Pass $135


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