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Moira Jean Sullivan


Moira Sullivan is a member of FIPRESCI and Alliance for Women Film Journalists. She writes for three venues:

 


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11th Iranian Film Festival in San Francisco screens new film by Sherin Neshat, Iranian filmmaker in exile

The 11th Iranian Film Festival for Iranians living in the San Francisco Bay Area will showcase a collections of new films, documentary and short films 22-23 September. It is the first independent film festival outside of Iran that presents the work of Iranians around the globe.

Each year since 2008, outstanding films have been screened and international Iranian guests have appeared to discuss their films. Last year, guest of honor (live video) was Iranian filmmaker and film scholar Bahman Maghsoudlou from NYC, author of Grass: Untold Stories about the making of the silent documentary Grass (Iran 1925) directed by Merian C Cooper, Ernst Shoedsack and Marguerite Harrison. The film was about the Bakhtiari migration in search of grass from Angora to their lands in Persia.

Maghsoudlou's documentary Razor's Edge: The Legacy of Iranian Actresses was screened at the festival, o\an outstanding document about pre-revolutionary actresses. The Iranian-American director has also made a documentary on the late Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.

One of the important centerfolds this year is a film by Shirihin Neshat, an Iranian filmmaker/artist living in exile in New York, on the legendary Egyptian vocalist Oum Kulthum (1898 -1975) - Looking for Oum Kulthum (22 September). The narrative reveals the journey of Mitra, a filmmaker (Neda Rahmaniamaking a film on Kulthum. Neshat's film premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in the official section of the "Venice Days" section.  As Neshat reveals, Kulthum was working in a male dominated business. Her legacy shows that she managed to exercise control over her career and received national honors. Beloved by the Egyptian people, a period of national mourning followed her death.

Neshat, in addition to being a flmmaker , made an extensive study of photographs entitled "Women of Allah Series (1993-1997). She studied in the US in the late 1970's  but was unable to return home to Iran due to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Neshat has also done video installations which have has been shown at venues such as the Venice Biennale. Her films have been selected for festivals in Venice, Cannes, Locarno, San Francisco, Tribeca and Sundance.

 

Another centerfold piece at the festival this year was also at the 70th Venice Film Festival in the official selection of the Orrizonti division, Ali Asghari's Disappearance (22 September). The film which has won awards in Atlanta, Singapore and Stockholm is about a young couple who run into complications while attempting to seek medical attention. Due to regulations and the need for secrecy from their families, they encounter difficulties getting the assistance they need.

 

 

A  new film by Daryush Yari Hunting Season (2018) concerns a woman who is about to perform in a concert abroad who must return home to Iran to save her daughter. Yari has made several documentaries since the 1990s. Screening 22 September.

 Also worthy of mention is Under the Smokey Roof by Pouran Derakhshandeh (2017). A prolific filmmaker since the 1970's, Derakhshandeh has made multiple documentaries and narratives. Her work has been selected at international film festivals and has been celebrated in several retrospectives of her work including Locarno, Bombay, Bangledesh and South Korea.

Under the Smokey Roof was nominated for several awards at the Fajr International Film Festival in Iran. The film concerns Shirin (Merila Zare'i), a housewife who is is facing a crisis in her family with her children and husband, a treatment that sheds light on life in modern Iran. Screening 23 September.

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