Screenshot before the screening, Photo: Payam Razi

A Glimpse of ÍRÁN:CI

by Marisa Sittheeamorn

Are you ready for a week packed to the brim of the best that Iranian and Afghan cinema has to offer?

Fasten your seatbelts as one of the world’s biggest celebrations of Farsi-speaking cinema outside the region, ÍRÁN:CI, heads into its ninth edition. Since its inception in 2012, the festival has amassed over 35,000 visitors, screened more than 200 films, and served as a launching point for countless international co-productions between Iranian filmmakers and the Western world. The festival is organized in collaboration with Farsi Cinema Center, and advances FCC’s mission to promote and connect leading and emerging voices of Farsi-speaking cinema with the rest of the world. It is FCC’s first and home festival.

While the festival has grown to include musical and theatrical performances, educational workshops, and an expanding industry program, it has turned into one of the most treasured showcases for art and culture lovers in Prague, Brno, and Bratislava every year. Drawing in the industry’s most revered stars, such as Siddiq Barmak, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, and Leila Hatami, the festival has become a crucial part of Czech Republic and Slovakia’s cultural calendar.

Gearing up for its ninth edition, the festival teamed up with the newly-opened Screenshot in Prague to host a lively warm-up to the festival earlier this month. Owned by Iranian filmmaker, Payam Razi, Screenshot provides lovers of arthouse cinema a cosy and artistic escape to celebrate film, art, music, and fine cocktails. The bustling event showcased one internationally-acclaimed feature, one breathtaking documentary, and nine sensational shorts.

Following a screening at Screenshot, Photo: Payam Razi

Cinema lovers flocked to Screenshot’s intimate hideout day after day to experience the handpicked selection of films from the eight previous editions of the festival. Amir Youssefi’s 2004 feature, Bitter Dream was a big hit and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Saturday offered two shorts blocks which showcased the region’s most celebrated shorts from the past decade, including, Retouch (Mazaheri, 2017), Marziyeh (Hajiha, 2017), The Road is Closed (Vahid Hajilouie, 2011), The Old and Doleful Ballad of Asmar’s Rainy Afternoon (Barzegar, 2000), AniMal (Ark, 2017), Under the Colors (Monsef, 2012), Duet (Danesh, 2014), Like a Good Kid (Vazirdaftari, 2018), and A Moon in Wane (2017). Kamran Heidari’s documentary Dingomaro (2013), rounded out the event, leaving viewers mesmerized and ready for more.

In the months leading up to the new year, ÍRÁN:CI has been hustling to put together another round up of boundary-breaking films from the Farsi-speaking region. As 2019 comes to a rapid close, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the festival’s 2020 program very soon.

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