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Kamyar Mohsenin • Director de relaciones internacionales, Fajr International Film Festival

"Nuestro papel en el cine mundial crece cada día"

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- En inglés: El director de relaciones internacionales del Fajr IFF, Kamyar Mohsenin, explica cómo el certamen ha tenido una utilidad crucial en el desarrollo del cine iraní

Kamyar Mohsenin  • Director de relaciones internacionales, Fajr International Film Festival

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

Founded in 1982, the Fajr International Film Festival (FIFF) is Iran’s largest annual film festival, held in Tehran. It is an event that celebrates cultural exchange, showcases the creative achievements of highly acclaimed filmmakers and pays tribute to quality local and international films. Since its beginnings, the Fajr International Film Festival has played a vital role in the development of Iranian cinema. The gathering’s manager of international relations, Kamyar Mohsenin, talks to Cineuropa about the origins of the festival and where it is headed.

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Cineuropa: What are the objectives of the festival and its market?
Kamyar Mohsenin: Over the years, the objectives have changed. The first year, we wanted to have a platform where we could showcase Iranian movies. The international competition started in 1998, and it was also the first edition for our film market. At the first edition, there were only Iranian stands, and festival programmers and buyers were coming to see new Iranian films. Afterwards, the market became a platform for international companies, and for a few years it was a huge market with more than 100 stands. Then we separated our film festivals – we now have a national film festival in February and an international film festival in April. When we decided to separate the festival, we had a different goal: we had been thinking that there were no special showcases for films from our region. In several Arab countries, there are festivals that showcase Arab films, but then the movies from Central Asia are completely ignored. Other important markets and festivals, like Dubai and Anatolia, have either reduced their activities or have disappeared. The main objective of our initiative was to bring together film productions and film professionals from our region: the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Anatolia.

Do you feel that cinema can help to build better relationships between countries? Can culture succeed where politics fail?
Culture comes before diplomacy and politics. We use cultural diplomacy to showcase Iranian culture and history. We are trying to be a good bridge between us and the rest of the world in the fields of culture and cinema. We need to sponsor festivals and events that excite and motivate the people of the world to visit Iran. Our aim is to maximise our dialogue with the world. Our first step must be an important regional cinema centre, and then move on to the world stage. Every day, our role in world cinema is growing. More and more, the government is investing in cinema, and collaborations with European and foreign companies are becoming more common.

You do not show big American blockbusters, but you have a large number of people coming to the screenings. How did you manage to get such a big audience?
We have a fan club, and most of the people are members of it. We have approximately 25,000 members in our fan club, and they are all in love with European cinema. Before organising the fan club, we had around 2,000 people, but now we have 25,000, which is really satisfying.

Does Fajr play a role in the promotion of Iranian films?
I think so. You can see that some of the movies that are screened at Venice come from this very film festival. They are shown here and are then selected for bigger festivals.

Can you tell us more about the film market and its evolution?
Firstly, we have expanded the market screenings. Our aim is to provide Iranian films for international buyers and distributors, as well as introducing these movies to other international festivals. In this section, each film is only screened twice, and the screenings are not open to the general public so that they can still have their proper premieres and enter other film festivals.

Secondly, we created a video library with more than 500 shorts, animations, and documentary and feature films by Iranian and foreign filmmakers. These movies are available to distributors, filmmakers and international guests alike.

We also promote our neighbouring countries, like Kazakhstan. They have a stand at the market, and they can easily present their films to the buyers and festival programmers who are here. The market is becoming extremely important not only for Iranian films, but also for movies from our region.

What do you think about the evolution of Iranian cinema in the last ten years?
Something really special is going on: the Americanisation of Iranian films. It is not my cup of tea, but producers are trying to stage action films and some mainstream comedies. I think for the film business and for the industry, it is necessary and useful to have such films produced and released in Iran.

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