Visits from two renowned filmmakers, Iranian American Shirin Neshat and Iranian Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, highlight the second edition of
Views from Iran
, presented by the Walker Art Center from April 9–30. The series includes themes of challenging conventions and saving face (About Elly); fighting patriarchy (Women Without Men and We Are Half of Iran’s Population); struggling with drug addiction (Mainline and Tehroun) and illegal immigration (Heiran); and negotiating a vibrant underground music scene (No One Knows About Persian Cats). Together the films reveal seldom-seen aspects of a country that captures headlines daily.
Visiting artists in the series include New York-based Neshat, whose work was first exhibited at the Walker in 1998, introducing with collaborator Shoja Azari the premiere of her film Women without Men (April 16 and 17, 7:30 pm), winner of the 2009 Venice Film Festival Silver Lion for Best Director; and Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, one of the most prominent women directors working in Iran today. Bani-Etemad will introduce screenings of Mainline (Khoon bazi), her film co-directed with Mohsen Abdolvahab (April 23, 7:30 pm), and the premiere of her latest work, We Are Half of Iran’s Population (April 24, 7:30 pm), a documentary about women’s hopes and demands for the 2009 presidential election. The director will also lead a master class on capturing authenticity in film (April 23, 2 pm). Views from Iran features premieres of Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly (Darbareye Elly), Iran’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2009 Academy Awards (April 9, 7:30 pm); Shalizeh Arefpour’s Heiran (Heiraan), about the challenging relationship between an Irani and an illegal Afghani immigrant (April 25, 2 pm); and Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats (Kasi az gorbehayeh irani khabar nadareh), a drama spun from Tehran’s underground rock music scene (April 30, 7:30 pm). Other programs include Nader T. Homayoun’s Tehroun (April 28, 7:30 pm), which won the 2009 Venice Festival’s audience award; and the Mack Lecture Views from Iran with Laura Secor (April 13, 7 pm), featuring a discussion with the freelance journalist who has covered Iranian culture and politics for the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Rolling Stone, among other media outlets.
All events are in the Cinema. All films are in Farsi with English subtitles and are $8 ($6 Walker members). Tickets can be purchased by calling the Walker box office at 612.375.7600 or online at walkerart.org/tickets.
Cinephile’s Special: See all 5 films for the price of 3 for $24 ($18).
VIEWS FROM IRAN
Friday, April 9, 7:30 pm
About Elly (Darbareye Elly)
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Farhadi has garnered acclaim for his dramas involving the middle class, a group overlooked in recent Iranian cinema. In this taut, pulse-quickening thriller about the costs of deception, a group of old college friends go for a holiday at the Caspian Sea with newcomer Elly in tow. A mysterious disappearance shatters the mood and relationships. Winner of the Silver Bear for best director, Berlin Film Festival; Best Narrative Feature, Tribeca Film Festival; and Iran’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. 2009, video, 116 minutes.
Tuesday, April 13, 7 pm
Mack Lecture: Views from Iran with Laura Secor
For nearly a decade, freelance journalist Laura Secor has covered Iranian culture and politics, including last year’s contentious presidential election, in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and other publications. Her work reaches beyond sound bites and pundits to connect with everyday individuals in Iran as they struggle to be understood outside their country. Secor brings updates from Iran as well as commentary and insights that provide context the Views from Iran film series.
This lecture is made possible by generous support from Aaron and Carol Mack.
Friday and Saturday, April 16 and 17, 7:30 pm
Women Without Men
Introduced by director Shirin Neshat and collaborator Shoja Azari
Post-screening conversation with Walker film curator Sheryl Mousley
The Walker first exhibited New York–based Shirin Neshat’s work in 1998—the same year she won the Venice Biennale’s prestigious Golden Lion prize for her video pieces—and her first major U.S. solo exhibition was presented in 2002. She returns with her feature film debut, an adaptation of the novel by exiled Iranian writer Shahmush Parsipur. Set in Iran during its infamous 1953 CIA-backed coup, the film follows four women from different social classes as they take refuge in a metaphorical orchard. Through striking visuals and magic realism, Neshat plumbs the depths of their personal tragedies. “Filmed in haunting muted hues, the women’s individual journeys are compelling, and the broader themes of the tensions between religion and secularism and between tradition and modernity have never felt more relevant” (British Film Institute). Selected for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, the 2010 New Films/New Directors series, and winner of the 2009 Venice Film Festival Silver Lion. 2009, 35mm, 95 minutes.
Visiting Artist: Rakhshan Bani-Etemad
“A force to be reckoned with in contemporary cinema.” —British Film Institute
The most prominent woman working in film in Iran today, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad was born in Tehran in 1954 and got her start directing documentaries for television. This focus on realism flows through her films, which incorporate an ethos of social and political consciousness. Her extensive filmography of both documentaries and narratives has shifted over more than 20 years from social satire to personal films, many with a focus on the condition of women in contemporary Iran, which she calls “a society full of contradictions.” Her work has been recognized at the Fajr, Karlovy Vary, and Locarno international film festivals, and her films Our Times and Gilaneh have been screened at past Women with Vision festivals.
Friday, April 23, 2 pm
Master Class with Rakhshan Bani-Etemad
Strategies for capturing authenticity on film are revealed in this 90-minute master class, which will focus on shooting “undercover” in city environments with hidden and disguised cameras.
Friday, April 23, 7:30 pm
Mainline (Khoon bazi)
Directed by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad and Mohsen Abdolvahab
Introduced by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad
A bride-to-be relapses with her heroin addiction. To get her clean before the wedding, her mother takes her on a harrowing road trip to a treatment center near the Caspian Sea. In a race against time and amid family strife, Mainline shows the brutal uphill battle toward recovery. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, the film features striking cinematography by Abbas Kiarostami’s director of photography, Mahmoud Kalari. 2006, 35mm, 79 minutes.
Saturday, April 24, 7:30 pm
We Are Half of Iran’s Population
Introduced by director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad
Made a mere three months before the contentious June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, this documentary provides an extraordinarily intimate and timely look at the country. Bani-Etemad filmed a diverse coalition of women’s rights activists discussing their opinions on pressing contemporary issues, then had three of the four presidential candidates view the footage (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad declined her invitation), which includes women demanding that Iran ratify the United Nation’s 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 2009, video, 42 minutes.
Sunday, April 25, 2 pm
Directed by Shalizeh Arefpour
During the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, about 3 million Afghans—mostly illegal immigrants—entered Iran. Seventeen-year-old Heiran falls in love with one of them, despite her family’s strident opposition, and the obstacles and challenges facing them threaten to overwhelm the couple. Arefpour’s feature film debut incorporates a lush score and cinematography, and features the last performance by acclaimed actor Khosro Shakibaei. Produced by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad. 2009, 35mm, 88 minutes.
Wednesday, April 28, 7:30 pm
Directed by Nader T. Homayoun
A villager tries his luck at a new life in “Tehroun,” Iranian slang for the capital, only to find his dreams quickly quashed amid the city’s crime and poverty. Despite a noirish, gripping story rife with prostitution, gangs, child-trafficking, and drug smuggling, this captivating debut also has a humanistic core typical of Iranian cinema. Winner of the 2009 Venice Film Festival’s audience award and selected for the 2010 edition of New Films/New Directors. 2009, 35mm, 95 minutes.
Friday, April 30, 7:30 pm
No One Knows About Persian Cats (Kasi az gorbehayeh irani khabar nadareh)
Directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Spun from Tehran’s underground rock and heavy metal music scene, this drama is based on the true story of a musical duo imprisoned for playing banned music. Their efforts to organize an illicit farewell concert and also obtain black market visas push them further underground. Vibrant performances by rap group Hichkas, jazz-inspired Rana Farhan, and electric blues band Mirza set the tone of this “love/hate letter to Tehran itself” (Screen Daily), which won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes. Afterward, back in Iran, the director was arrested. The film’s co-writer and producer, journalist Roxana Saberi, also spent time in prison in April 2009 on charges of espionage. 2009, 35mm, 101 minutes.