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PASSIONATE PERSIA

Mon Dec 15,2008

Iran’s Ever-Reliable Cinema Once Again Fresh and Fantastic at DIFF 2008

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is a rich source of the best in international film, and fans of Iran’s ceaselessly productive and always interesting cinema industry can count on finding Persian film gems at DIFF 2008—including a film with a Dubai connection.

Morality and family life concern director Majid Majidi,  whose award-winning The Song of Sparrows is Iran’s entry for the 2009 Academy Awards. Innocent Karim works at an ostrich farm outside of Tehran,  leading a simple and contented life until he is blamed for the loss of one of the birds. He heads to the city, but as he becomes accustomed to urban life,  its corrupting influences begin to erode his decent and humble nature. It is up to those closest to him to restore the values that he had once cherished.

Nader Davoodi’s touching documentary Aref Squared, partially set in Dubai, will catch the attention of UAE audiences. Davoodi was intrigued by Tehran taxi driver Bozorgmehr’s dream—to meet and sing with his pop idol, Aref, a pre-revolution Iranian singer—and decided to help him realize it. They travel to Dubai, where Bozorgmehr has three days to make it happen. Will the star-struck hero fulfill his fantasy? Or will he become adrift in the city where anything seems possible, returning to Tehran with nothing but a broken heart?

A suspenseful debut feature from thriller from director Ramtin Lavafipour, Aram Bash Va Ta Haft Beshmar (Be Calm and Count to Seven) is a thrilling ride among the smuggling villages located along Iran’s coast. Motu, one of the dozens of young men retrieving stashes of contraband along the beaches at night, faces mounting pressure from potential police attacks and the death of his father. As the only breadwinner for his deceased father’s wife and children, he must decide whether his lawless existence will continue to provide for his new responsibilities.

In ground-breaking Iranian director Manijeh Hekmat’s Se Zan (3 Women), three generations of women examine the search for one’s roots in an uncertain world. Middle-aged Minoo is afraid for her missing daughter, Pegah. Pegah is speeding out of the city when she stops to pick up a hitch hiker who will have a profound effect on her life. Meanwhile,  Minoo’s ailing mother clings to a precious old rug as her last link to her past.

A Lebanon-France co-production set in Iran, directed by Lebanese Sabine el Gamayel and produced by Algerian-French DIFF Honouree Rachid Bouchareb, Niloofar is the story of a 12-year old girl who goes to great lengths to educate herself. She disguises herself as a boy in her bid to learn to read and write, which will only remain a successful plan as long as her growth into a woman can be hidden for as long as possible.

An emotionally poignant short film by director Houman Seyedi, 35 Metriye Sathe Ab (35 Metres from the Water) depicts moments of connection and beauty between unlikely lovers who risk scandal and intrusion by pursuing their emotions.

The Dubai International Film Festival will run from December 11 to 18, 2008.

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