From left (the judges) – Actor Davood Rashidi, director Ebrahim Hatamikiya, scholar Hasan Bolkhari , director Majid Majidi, director Rasool Sadramoli awarding Leila Hatami the award for best leading actress (2008)
The annual Farj Film Fesitval is right around the corner. Fajr is the biggest cinematic event of the year which takes place during the annual celebrations for the anniversary of the revolution.
Every year, we get the Fajr program with excitement and then get ready to stand there in the mile long lines for tickets (pictured below @ Palestine Cinema – 2007). What makes Fajr exciting is that movies get a first screening there to participate in the competition, and then are given a wider release throughout the year. For many movie lovers in Tehran, Fajr is always an event to look forward to, despite the limitations and despite the fact that each year, at least one much anticipated movie is banned right prior to its screening day.
One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is a ticket to Fajr. Lucky doctors for instance, get them as tokens of appreciation from patients sometimes.
But this year, in cultural circles everywhere, you can hear the same conversation: to boycott or not to boycott?
So far, a number of notable actors and directors have declined to join the judges panel, citing other commitments.
Asghar Farhadi (director): In Serbia to participate in a film festival
Ezatollah Entezami (actor): illness
Fatemeh Goodarzi (actress) : travel (although she later said that her plans had changed and she would be serving as a judge)
When one of my favorite directors ever, Dariush Mehrjui was interviewed by Chelcehragh magazine and asked if he would be willing to serve as a judge this year he said: “of course not! I served as a judge years before, when things were better. A festival that is as poorly done as this one, needs judges to match. Really, this festival is so awful that we should not even waste our time speaking about it.”
When asked if he thought boycotting the festival might harm the movie industry and artists he said: “the festival has nothing to do with the work of these artists. These artists and cinematographers will do their own work and make their own movies.”
Chelcheragh: “What then is the purpose of the festival?”
Mehrjui: “Nothing. A group of people will gather in a room and applaud themselves and give themselves prizes.”
Director Kambozia Partovi was also interviewed by the same magazine and asked about the festival: “this years festival is not even worth mentioning. It’s better to remain silent and let it pass.”
I think another issue this year is that the Ministry of Culture is changing the way judges are selected.
The only quandary is that some other very notable directors including Hatamikiya and Molagholipour are rumored to attend. In a very smart move, the ministry has also released the ban on Hatamikiya’s much anticipated movie, The Color Purple (yes, let’s hope the story is more original than the name) thus insuring long lines at the box office.
We’ll have to see if that indeed turns out to be the case.
Should the festival be boycotted?