Iran film festival a first for Singapore

Recent movies, most of which are premiering here, will also be shown in digital cinema format

The Private Life Of Mr And Mrs M. -- PHOTO: IRANIAN FILM FESTIVAL
Children Of Heaven, a downbeat look at poverty, was a commercial success. -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP
The Hidden Sense looks at a typical middle-class couple, who grow apart over time. -- PHOTO: IRANIAN FILM FESTIVAL

Singapore will hold its first-ever Iranian Film Festival this week, featuring a roster of recent films, most of which are premiering in Singapore. They will also be screened in the high-quality digital cinema format.

Mr Kenneth Tan, chairman of the Singapore Film Society, which is co-organising the festival, said that "in theory we could have taken in any format - DVD and Blu-ray included".

"But for a film festival, you want the best quality," he said. He added that there is a chance that the festival will become a regular event if the inaugural edition is well received.

The festival is supported by Singapore's Ministry Of Foreign Affairs and organised by the Singapore Film Society and Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film. Mr Chew Tai Soo, Singapore's non- resident ambassador to Iran, said he hoped the festival would appeal not just to film buffs but would also "open Iranian movies to a bigger cross section of people".

"Iran is very rich in culture, going back 5,000 years. They are especially good in movies and literature. They are an Asian film powerhouse, and many of their films have won international prizes," he said.

The festival is also supported by the ambassador of Iran to Singapore, Mr Javad Ansari.

The history of film in Iran started in the early 20th century and many of its present cohort have lived in France or elsewhere in Europe and show a distinctly European influence, he said.

"Not all the films have a happy ending. These are not Hollywood films, where it's all sweetness. Think about Children Of Heaven. It's a darker universe. A Separation has children involved and it's about competition by the parents for the daughter, who is caught between them."

Mr Tan added that Singaporeans in general have a good impression of Iranian films because of the commercial success of films such as Children Of Heaven (1997) and A Separation (2011), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2012.

"We are fortunate to have year-round country- themed festivals. But there haven't been many opportunities to watch a lot of Iranian films. So when the idea of an Iranian Film Festival was proposed to us, it was naturally appealing," he says.

The festival will feature eight films, of which only A Separation has never been screened here. "These are film about everyday life, these are everyday stories. I believe they will resonate," he said.


The fascinating, multi-layered drama of a marriage falling apart, A Separation (PG, 123 minutes), winner of the 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Language movie, is here in case you missed it when it had its run in cinemas here two years ago.

But there is much more to Iranian cinema. Seven other films at the festival will make their debut in Singapore.

Iranian cinema encompasses the gamut of genres. A Taste Of Cherry (1997), for example, was a surreal and dark drama about suicide, while Children Of Heaven (1997) was a realistic, downbeat look at poverty.

Most of the films in the festival focus on urban, middle-class couples under pressure from shifting male-female expectations.

The Private Life Of Mr And Mrs M (2012, 80 minutes, PG), like A Separation, features a couple in a rocky relationship. The tension is heightened when she receives a better job offer, upsetting his ego.

When: Friday, 7pm

The Hidden Sense (2012, 90 minutes, PG) is a look at a typical middle-class couple, Amir and Simin. They seem to have it all: Amir is a manager at a well-established company and Simin is a psychiatrist. As time passes, they grow more alienated from each other.

When: Sunday, 2pm

I Am His Wife (2012, 100 minutes, PG) looks at a marriage through the eyes of a young woman married to an insensitive man who sees her as his inferior, intellectually and socially.

When: Sunday, 4.30pm

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