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Persian Nights in Houston Texas, Music by DJ Aria
Iranian Films, Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, July 97

The great contemporary Iranian Film Maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Film Festival in Houston at the Museum of Fine Arts

July/August 1997
MFA Films

Series:
Reality is a Prison: The Films of Mohsen Makhmalbaf
July 12-27

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, growing up in an impoverished section of Tehran in the early 1960s, he left school to support his family and became a political revolutionary. As a teenager he was imprisoned for several years by the Shah's secret police for attacking a police officer (an incident recreated in "A Moment of Innocence showing" July 12-13.) Released from prison during the Islamic Revolution, Makhmalbaf gave up political activity and focused on artistic pursuits by founding the Organization for the Propagation of Islamic Thought for like- minded artists. He explains that he discovered cinema at the age of 24 and it changed my vision of the world: cinema cultivates man. Probably the most popular and controversial director now working in Iran, some of Makhmalbaf's films such as Marriage of the Blessed feature clear political messages, while others, including "Time of Love" and "A Moment of Innocence" have been viewed as subversive and banned by the authorities for being too out of touch with the director's earlier religious beliefs. Once believing that film should be used only to teach Islamic values, Makhmalbaf's current thought is that every film should bring something new and fresh into your life. I think that should be the main goal of cinema.

Thanks to Alissa Simon from the Film Center, Chicago whose program notes are excerpted in this calendar. This retrospective was organized by Alberto Barbera, Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, Torino, and Alissa Simon, The Film Center, Chicago, with the cooperation of the Farabi Cinema Foundation, Iran; MK2, Paris; Maani Petgar, and Houshang Golmakani.

Admission is free for all showings!

ShowingStardust Stricken
ScheduleFriday, July 11, 7:30 pm
ByMohsen Makhmalbaf
DirectorHoushang Golmakani
Summary(Iran, 1995, 70 min., subtitled)
Take this opportunity to see this fascinating documentary on Makhmalbaf which illustrates the artist's life with clips from his films that are only slightly more surreal than his own experience. To kick off the summer series, the film features Makhmalbaf speaking candidly about his inspirations, revolutionary fervor, faith, and the changes each has gone through. He takes the filmmaker to the very spot where the key incident of his youth and quick initiation into adulthood occurred: at age 17, as a member of a revolutionary group, he attempted to disarm one of the Shah's policemen, knifing him in the process. Footage of the funeral of Makhmalbaf's wife, who tragically died along with their children in a fire, forces [the audience] to rethink the role of tragedy on the screen. The filmmaker Houshang Golmakani is the editor of Film Monthly, Iran's oldest and most prestigious film magazine.
Pacific Film Archives program notes.

Showing "Nun Va Goldun" (A Moment of Innocence)
Schedule Saturday, July 12, 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 13, 7:00 pm
Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Summary (Iran, 1996, 80 min., subtitled)
Makhmalbaf has taken an incident from his youth 20 years ago when, driven by dissident passion, he stabbed one of the Shah's police officers while trying to steal his gun. (He was jailed and set free only following the fundamentalist revolution in 1979.) Playing himself, the director stars as a filmmaker auditioning actors for the part of the police officer. The actors perform the incident from different perspectives and maintain a straight-faced, comic tone throughout the film. Layering reality with cinematic trickery, Makhmalbaf examines how film and memory shape perceptions. Continuing the witty tradition of Salaam Cinema, A Moment of Innocence surprises again and again, and nothing -- not even the director's own memories -- can be taken for granted.
Toronto International Film Festival catalogue

Showing"NobatE AshgEi" (Time of Love)
ScheduleSaturday, July 12, 9:00 pm
Sunday, July 13, 8:30 pm
DirectorMohsen Makhmalbaf
Summary(Iran, 1990, 75 min., subtitled)
Filmed in Istanbul with Turkish actors, Time of Love was banned by the Iranian censors because of the controversial nature of adultery in Islamic culture. Like The Peddler, this film is structured as a tragic trilogy; it narrates three versions of a woman's extramarital affair, each with a different ending and each with the actors switching characters. In every version of the story, Makhmalbaf plays with the dynamics of the love triangle and the changing roles, causing the meaning of the adulterous act to shift the balance of conventional morality.

Showing "Salaam Cinema"
Schedule Saturday, July 19, 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 20, 7:00 pm
Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Summary (Iran, 1995, 75 min., subtitled)
Made as a celebration of the centenary of cinema, Salaam Cinema is Makhmalbaf's record of his audition process for the film. The director places a newspaper advertisement in Tehran asking for 100 actors and actresses for a new film; one thousand application forms are printed but 5,000 people show up at the audition. A riot results and the rest of the film concentrates on the applicants' auditions. It seems nearly everyone wants to be a movie star; some believe they look like Paul Newman or Marilyn Monroe, although none resemble either star. As with many Iranian films, Salaam Cinema blurs the line between illusion and documentary, passing back and forth between fact and fiction.

Showing "Ruzi Ruzegar, Cinema" (Once Upon a Time, Cinema)
Schedule Saturday, July 19, 9:00 pm
Sunday, July 20, 8:30 pm
Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Summary (Iran, 1992, 100 min., subtitled)
Set at the beginning of this century, Makhmalbaf's tenth feature tells the story of a Persian monarch who opposes the new medium of cinema. A Chaplinesque character introduces the movies to the court and the king falls completely in love with the on-screen heroine. The king's passion is so intense that he gives up his harem and kingdom to become an actor so that he may be with his new love. Makhmalbaf's previous struggles with censorship is reflected in the story's conflict between authority and artistic freedom.

Showing "Dast-forush" (The Peddler)
Schedule Saturday, July 26, 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 27, 7:00 pm
Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Summary (Iran, 1987, 95 min., subtitled)
Like Time of Love, The Peddler utilizes the three chapter treatment of the same subject matter: this time the focus is on the social and economic problems of the poor, urban dwellers of post-Shah Tehran. Makhmalbaf explains that the first story depicts the birth of man and his emergence upon the scene of existence, the second episode covers man's journey through life, and the third tolls the knell of his departure from the world.In the first tale, a couple attempts to have their daughter adopted to ease their poverty. The middle story centers on an unstable young man who lives with his crippled mother. The last section reflects the influence of the American gangster film genre by introducing a peddler suspected of betraying his fellow smugglers. Although all three stories feature downbeat themes, the filmmaker uses gentle humor to weave his tale of humanity.

Showing "Arusi-Ye Khuban" (The Marriage of the Blessed)
Schedule Saturday, July 26, 9:15 pm
Sunday, July 27, 8:45 pm
Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Summary (Iran, 1989, 75 min., subtitled)
A kind of Iranian Born on the Fourth of July, The Marriage of the Blessed is an unsettling examination into the legacy of war and its effect on a journalist/news photographer. Haji has been traumatized by an explosion during the war with Iraq and is tormented by nightmarish visions; he is released from the hospital into the care of his fiance and her relatives. Increasingly obsessed with the starving millions in Africa and the situation in Lebanon, he collapses while having his marriage registered. His fiance's family wants to cancel the wedding, but she stands by Haji, while he return's to his job as a news photographer. The couple's personal saga as they challenge both the authority of their parents and that of the state is just the beginning of Makhmalbaf's film, which some view as an elegy to a generation that suffered while others profited from the war.
1992 Toronto International Film Festival catalogue

Houston, Texas

  • Iranian Film Festival

    Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas - 713-639-7515 (Phone)

    ZinatSept 14 and 15
    PariSept 14 and 15
    JourneySept 21 and 22
    JarSept 21 and 22
    Blue-VeiledSept 28 and 29
    Yellow CanarySept 28 and 29

    Houston, Texas

    EventAsheghaneh Magazine's Anniversary Celebration
    PerformersViguen, Leila Forouhar, and Kamran Hooshmand (opening act)
    For more info. Call: 713-722-0100
    Date & TimeSaturday, September 6th, 9:00 p.m. - 2 a.m.
    LocationJ.W. Marriott Hotel, Houston, Texas
    Admission$25 advance, $30 door
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