By Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet

“Cylinder” qualifies for Oscars at Tehran festival amid claims of “extravagance”

October 25, 2021 - 18:24

TEHRAN – Iranian drama “Cylinder” qualified for Academy Awards consideration by winning the 38th Tehran International Short Film Festival’s grand prix Sunday evening as the Cinema Organization of Iran’s director sharply criticized organizers for “promoting extravagance and aristocracy.”

In this movie directed by Amir Pazirofteh, a teenage boy, regardless of his interest and talent in soccer, must obey a father who is obsessed with money. The father prevents his son from going to the football competition by any means. Eventually, after a consistent struggle, the match day arrives and the boy decides to reach the final match in any way possible with the help of his friend.

The award ceremony of the festival, which qualified a film for the Oscars for the first time this year, was attended by Mohammad Khazaei, the new director of the Cinema Organization of Iran, who stormed out of the ceremony following his heavy criticism of its extravagance.

The award ceremony was organized at the conference hall of the library of Iran Mall, a luxury shopping and entertainment center located in the western part of Tehran. The center was also a sponsor of the event.

During the closing ceremony, several managers of the Iran Mall delivered speeches advertising their center.

Khazaei accused the Iran Mall of misuse of festival for advertising its activities and left the ceremony in protest at the act.

“I would suggest to the managers of the Iran Mall that they launch an independent festival of their own,” quipped Khazaei, addressing the Iran Mall managers scornfully in his brief but stinging critique before abruptly walking out of the ceremony.

“I would ask the managing director of the Iranian Youth Cinema Society [the main organizer of the festival] to maintain the honor, prestige, independence and friendliness of the festival, which has been shaped with the help of promising, young filmmakers,” he said.

Following Khazaei’s premature departure, host Mohammad Soluki announced that the managing director of the Iran Mall is prepared to launch the center’s own independent festival.     

Afterwards, the ceremony continued with the honoring of other winners of the festival.

“Beyond Is the Day” by Polish filmmaker Damian Kocur was selected as best short fiction.

The film tells the story of Pawel, a simple man who works on a small river ferry close to his village in Poland. He spends most of his day taking the villagers to the other side of the river. Every day looks the same, but one day he notices somebody traversing the river by swimming. This person is Mohammad, an immigrant from Palestine. There is finally somebody Pawel can talk to.   

Iranian filmmaker Yaser Talebi’s “I Won’t Remain Alone” won the award for best short documentary.

In this documentary, an elderly disabled couple living in a small village in the northern part of Iran faces an unfathomable tragedy when their youngest son falls into a coma after an accident. Defying the Islamic traditions of burial, overcoming problems of red tape, and turning devastation into hope, the parents agree to donate their son’s organs. Five years after their brave decision, a film crew visits them and records their slow path of reconciliation with death – or rather, their acquaintance with eternal life.  

The award for best short animation went to the Chinese-French co-production “Step Into the River” directed by Weijia Ma.

It is about Lu and Wei, two young girls who live in a village nestled on the banks of a river. As the one-child policy has led some families to drown baby girls, they both have a special relationship with this river which looks like a cradle of tragic stories.

“Identification” by Jean-François Comminges from France won the best experimental short award.

A jury composed of Lia Beltrami from Italy, Sebastien Simon from France, Shoko Takegasa from Japan, Virgil Widrich from Austria and Abolfazl Jalili from Iran selected the winners. 

Photo: Director Amir Pazirofteh (C) receives the grand prix for his drama “Cylinder” at the 38th Tehran International Short Film Festival from Iranian House of Cinema director Manuchehr Shahsavari (2n R) at Tehran’s Iran Mall on October 24, 2021.

MMS/YAW

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