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Accueil du site > Interview-Portrait > Cinema Verité Iran ; Festival Directors (14 octobre 2008)

Cinema Verité Iran ; Festival Directors


In the north of Tehran, somewhere on Gandhi street, the heart of young Iranian cinema beats. When you get out of a taxi, you just follow your ears and walk through the gate of the Documentary and Experimental Film Centre. Past the janitor into a small garden, you find yourself in front of four storeys of creativity. Not only the Cinema Vérité festival is organised here, but there is also a funding, a production and a distribution department. You might run into the Head of International Affairs Massoud Bakhshi or the Head of Doc Market Shirin Naderi on the second floor. The office of Mohammad Afarideh, director of DEFC and Head of Festival of Cinema Vérité, is two sets of stairs up.

This year’s festival has 17 different sections and will screen 280 films from 84 countries. It’s only the second edition. Can you explain how Cinéma Vérité has been expanding so rapidly ?

Mohammad Aferideh (MA) - Last year the first festival came out of a necessity to the society. Four years ago some producers started asking for a festival and we began to organise special screenings. Now, one of our goals is to introduce young filmmakers to the knowledge of documentary film, but actually the festival is for everyone.

What was the platform for documentary film in Iran before Cinema Vérité ?

Massoud Bakhshi (MB) - TV was long the only window. This is one of the reasons why Mr. Afarideh started DEFC 5 years ago, to broaden the visibility. A big problem is that there aren’t enough theatres in Iran. More theatres are under construction, but most of them are for more commercial ends.

MA - There’s a fight between documentaries and the commercial films that rules the market. Still when a society gets more educated, it develops a need for more documentaries, which can be a mirror for the shortcomings and problems of that society.

How difficult is it for the festival to be a mirror of Iranian society ?

MB - We know what the limits are of this country in transition and we have to take things step by step. Modern gets mixed with traditional at a rapid speed. We must be very careful so we don’t loose our opportunities and must be conscious of our future.

Why do you call the festival ‘Cinema Vérité’ ?

MB - In Farsi Vérité is ‘harirat’, which means ‘the truth’. Many films at the festival deal with new aspects of reality, like for example Recycle by Mahmoud Al Massad.

MA - The festival name is not indented to only point to the ‘Direct Cinema’ genre. We chose the name for the diversity of genres in the program. Since Iran is a multicultural country – with 64 languages – a new genre comes with every culture. But the general tendency is the poetic documentary thanks to the thousands of years of poetic tradition in Iran. Our filmmakers are the new poets !

MB - In the national section there is a lot of poetic films. The filmmaker Jorgen Leth, who is also a poet, is going to talk about the celebrated Persian poet Roudaki here.

What is your ambition for this festival ?

MA - Our biggest responsibility the first year was to warn the State and the press of the need of this festival. And we did achieve to get documentary out of the fiction shadow and put it into the sun. Now people see it as an independent genre.

Shirin Naderi - A lot of interest has come from other countries to be part of the Doc Market that is connected to the festival, through our promotion at other festivals. Around 20 countries and about 45 companies will be represented at the market. There will be a forum for production. It is an opportunity for the Iranians and the international guests to meet.

MB - I would like to add that making this festival is not just transferring knowledge and images. A more fruitful result is feeding the need of a young society. With this festival we would like to make Iranian people more conscious of the world. There is a lot of discussion here about local and national affairs, but we are living in a small world, so this is a mistake. We want to bring the world to the people.

Maartje Alders

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