By Manijeh Rezapoor

Iranian cinema straightforward in story, deep in concept: Marios Piperides

June 12, 2019

TEHRAN – Cypriot director and producer Marios Piperides says Iranian films are very simple in their stories and deep in concepts.

“Iranian films are very good and deep. They have straightforward stories and plain production, but are deep in concept,” the filmmaker told the Tehran Times in an interview held at the Embassy of Cyprus in Tehran on Wednesday.

“You may think it is easy, but it is very hard to make these kinds of films,” he said. “This is what makes Iranian cinema unique.”

“I think that is why the Iranian films can attend major international festivals and win main awards,” he speculated.

The filmmaker said that he mostly knows major Iranian film directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi and Asghar Farhadi through their films screened at international festivals such as Cannes.

Cypriot director Marios Piperides talks to the Tehran Times at the Embassy of Cyprus in Tehran on June 12, 2019. (Mehr/Shahab Qayyumi) 

Piperides is in Iran to promote his 2018 comedy drama “Smuggling Hendrix” during the European Film Week underway in seven Iranian cities. The film was screened at the Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran on Tuesday.

The film tells the story of Yiannis, a fading musician, who is planning to leave crisis-ridden Cyprus for a better life abroad. His plans are put on hold when his dog Jimi runs away and crosses the UN buffer zone that divides the “Greek” from the “Turkish” side of the island. 

“Smuggling Hendrix” is Piperides’ first feature film as a director. He has already directed two short films and a documentary, but he is mostly known as a producer.

He said that he received very useful feedback from the screening of his film screening in Tehran.

“We had a workshop followed by a question and answer panel after the screening. There was a nice discussion and the cinema was full,” he noted.

He also said that the political portion of the story was mostly interesting for the audience as was the dynamics between the two communities.

“The workshop also centered on topics such as coproduction and producing films in Europe as compared with film productions in Iran,” he mentioned.

Piperides said that Cypriots should come and visit Iran. “This is how they can learn about the country and get to know the people,” he remarked.

Ambassador Petros Nacouzis, also present at the interview, said that Cypriots, while not aware of the current conditions in Iran, are somewhat familiar with the people of Iran because many Iranian families own homes in Cyprus.

“They know of the people but the problem is that the exchange of visits is not reciprocal. Cypriots do not come here; they think it’s dangerous since they lack proper knowledge,” the ambassador said.

Cypriot Ambassador Petros Nacouzis (C), Iran and Cyprus Friendship Association director Mohammad Janpas (R) and his colleague Hanif Ghaffari pose at the Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran on June 11, 2019.

He proposed that a documentary about the natural beauties of Iran and about its people could better introduce Iran as a great country.

“The richness of the culture of the country and its ancient civilizations will have an impact on the people who come to visit here,” he said.

“There are so many exhibitions, so many photographers, and so many artists here. You can see many impressive buildings in the city as well,” he added.

“We have to show how Iran really is. I think we have to show Cypriots the country from different perspectives,” he remarked.

Regarding expansion of cultural relations, the ambassador said that the embassy would support any cultural activities initiated by the Iran and Cyprus Friendship Association located in Tehran.

The association is planning to screen two Iranian movies in Cyprus in the near future on order to promote Iranian cinema in the country, however, the names of the films have not been announced as yet. 

The ambassador further noted that his country is a desirable location for the film industry due to its natural attractions.

He said that his country officially launched a neighborhood named Olivewood in 2018 to promote itself internationally to investors.

“The olive tree in Cyprus has a meaning, and there are many very old olive trees, and oil production is well known in the country, while the olive tree also symbolizes peace. Olivewood has a very bright future,” the ambassador concluded.

The European Film Week has been organized as a collaborative effort between Iran’s Art and Experience Cinema and the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC).

Kish Island and several cities including Babol, Isfahan, Kerman, Mashhad and Tabriz are hosting the festival simultaneously until June 17.

RM/MMS/YAW

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