Have been familiar with Iranian Cinema before coming to the festival?
Yes, we received submissions from Iran like all over the world for our festival because Astra is an international festival. Actually, before I came, we have archive all the Iranian films also interesting experience to watch them. I also have many scenes from Iranian cinema in my head but I couldn’t remember the names of the directors, because for twenty years is really hard to remember while I can recall some scenes and story of them but I still could remember the two film which won awards during these years in our festival.
What does make Iranian cinema special for you?
Of course, I know there is a very specific and nice tradition in Iranian cinema. I knew it from my film studies and I never kind of went to it very deeply. However, from the films which we received and also to the two films awarded in our festival, I can say that Iranian documentaries has specific way of making which is related not just to the topics- which they are very different- but sometimes because of their approach and this is appreciated for me.
I hope the festival helps you to pursue Iranian cinema more than before.
For sure, it will. Programming and curating documentary films in general requires to know the reality. In this scenes, curating documentary films means curating reality so it is very necessary if it is possible for us to travel and get much more out of the specific human reality; for example the Iranian society even if not even, a week because it is not enough but for me. I can tell you something that happened for me during last two days. I have to wear scarf because of the Islamic rules and I received very positive vibes and effects like it makes me sensitive to many things that it wouldn’t be if I didn’t wear scarf. I’m really focused on things like religious stuffs in public spaces. I can show you the photos, which I took. I’m sure that if I didn’t wear scarf, I couldn’t see many places I visited like praying rooms around in the public spaces. They are not like the ones in Western Europe but I was without scarf there was no chance for observing them and I wouldn’t be attentive. In many other details was the same, If I wasn’t here I couldn’t get familiar with these simple details of the existence and Iranian society and life.
Therefore, it seems that you are having a good experience.
I’m very content and glad, also honored to be invited here. I feel great. I couldn’t imagine the size of the festival. I realized that coming here is like coming out of our western bubble and throwing to another world. It is something absolutely fantastic and discovering.
You told me that your festival is on its 26th edition, it means the double age of our festival. How do you compare them?
Eventually I think Cinema-Verite festival is very mature in 13 years. I feel it is one of the most important artistic events in Iranian society. It seems that the festival is a good platform for ideas, emotions, which are happening now in this society and put up for public. I feel that it is much attention on this event and there is a lot of energy and hope of many people to say untold stories and to the people. This is the role of these kinds of festivals. It is very important the existence of such events. For me the size of the festival and the work of organizers were surprising. You know, holding a festival in this size and level is very hard. It is not just about artistic issues; it is about sponsors, states, audience and many other things. It is very hard to keep everybody in balance and satisfied and in the context of Iran I can imagine that it must be harder because of so many regulation which hard to keep it. We have started Astra festival in 1993 after three years that communism has fallen in our country; it was hard time so we are all sensitive to all these things, and we totally understand the hardship in organizing the festivals as such big events.