16th February- Persian International Film Festival

In this episode of Something Else Maren caught up with Amin Palangi and Sanaz Fotouhi, directors of the first Persian International Film Festival that opens at Dendy Opera Quays next Thursday 23rd February. The festival aims to challenge concepts and misconceptions about the term ‘Persia’ and showcase contemporary films from Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

‘I find myself to be quite connected to the land that I was born in… I  consider Australia home, Sydney especially so, and what I’m hoping now just share a bit of that background with the non-Persian communities here.’ – Amin Palangi

Amin Palangi is a director, writer and producer and Screen Culture Producer at the Information and Culture Exchange at Parramatta where, among other things, he mentors young filmmakers. He’s the founder of Palangi Productions, he’s made features, shorts and documentaries in Afghanistan, Iran and Australia and he’s a PhD student at ANU.

Still from Opium War, Seddiq Barmak, 2008

‘We’ve lived in the West and the East, I think we have the chance to bridge that gap. It’s always like a negotiation for us and this film festival has boiled from that need to create that in-between space that both Amin and I feel we’re a part of.’ –Sanaz Fotouhi

Sanaz Fotouhi is a producer at Palangi Productions and is completing her PhD thesis on post-diasporic Iranian writers in English at UNSW. Her thesis covers concepts of ‘unhomeliness’ expressed in Iranian expatriots writing in English in English speaking countries. She’s produced documentaries in Iran and Afghanistan.

Still from Released, Amir Parsamehr and Peyman Naeimi, 2011

‘Short films [in Iran] do not need to get these permissions, or approval from the government… they get screened at film festivals. Film festivals have screening rights to screen anything basically, but those films don’t end up in cinemas.’ – Amin Palangi on the difference in censorship of short films in Iran as compared to features.

Amin, Sanaz and I delved into topics of ancient Persian culture, contemporary Iranian and Afghani cinema, intercultural dialogue, censorship, and what it’s like to be a husband and wife filmmaking team. We also talk about the recent first ever Iranian Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Separation’, yet to open in Australia, which will be screening as part of the Persian Film Festival next Sunday. That day they’ll also be premiering an exclusive ‘The Making Of A Separation’ and holding a panel discussion on Iranian cinema at the State Library of NSW.

Still from the exclusive Making Of A Separation, featuring Asghar Farhadi, dir. Seyyed Vahid Hosseini

‘There’s a lot of fear of the unknown at the moment, and countries Iran and Afghanistan are quite at the centre of that and hopefully the festival will start a dialogue around those issues.’ – Amin Palangi

The festival opens Thursday 23rd February with feature by Tina Gharavi ‘I Am Nasrine’, accompanied by short films ‘Delete’ (Kazem Mollaie) and ‘Going’ (Salem Salavati). Check out the Persian International Film Festival website for more information on session times, tickets and other events, they also have a facebook page and a twitter feed under @PersianFilmFest .

Download this podcast through iTunes by opening ‘Advanced’, ‘Subscribe to Podcast’ and pasting this URL into the dialogue box: http://www.cpod.org.au/feed.php?id=308

Don’t forget to tune into 89.7FM at 6pm next Thursday for more alternative arts and culture news, interviews and revelry.

-Maren (twitter)