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The International Reception of Iranian Cinema, 2000-2013
February 5, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST
Dr. Anne Démy-Geroe teaches Asia Pacific cinema at Griffith University. An inaugural member of the Nominations Council for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, a Vice President of NETPAC, and a Co-Director of the Asia Pacific Screen Lab, Anne was the inaugural Director of the Brisbane International Film Festival from 1991 to 2010 and co-Director of the Iranian Film Festival Australia from 2010 to 2017. She has a Ph.D. in the area of Iranian cinema and is the author of Iranian National Cinema: The Interaction of Policy, Genre, Funding and Reception published in 2020.
Iran became a cinematic “hotspot” on the international festival circuit from the mid 1990s; after 2000, when the industry was showered with the Golden Cameras, Leopards and Lions of Cannes, Locarno and Venice, Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi headed a list of directors from a cinema that no international film festival could think of omitting from its programme. The September 11 attacks further boosted interest in Iranian cinema as the most interesting national cinema in what was suddenly a topical region. The rise of what was known domestically pejoratively as the “festival film” impacted significantly on content as filmmakers scrambled for international distribution. Western festival interest was reinvigorated after the contested 2009 Iranian elections, when cinema was transformed into a cultural marker, and compounded by the arrival of bright new star, director Asghar Farhadi with About Elly (2009). The 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for A Separation catapulted Iranian cinema into the consciousness of a broader general public, although unfairly for Farhadi, his win was inextricably intertwined with the concurrent political situation. This presentation, based on my experience as a festival director, will focus on tracing a politically contextualized history of the reception of Iranian cinema in the West through the gatekeepers, the international film festivals, from 2000 to 2013, and will also briefly examine the response from the Iranian government, a slate of films made to combat this interest.