Iranian Filmmakers at LFF: Bridge Over Troubled Border
The BFI London Film Festival is practically the last stop for Iranian films on their annual festival journey, which usually kicks off at Berlinale. This year, thanks to major retrospectives of contemporary and pre-revolutionary Iranian films at Fribourg International Film Festival and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, there has been a joyous feeling of revival in the air, unprecedented since the critical success of Iranian films in the early 1990s.
Even if the retrospectives led to a belated appreciation in Europe of the Iranian New (Wave) cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, there remains much confusion about contemporary Iranian films, and this is reflected in other festival programmes. The BFI London Film Festival – known for offering an up-to-date survey of national cinemas – has shown less interest in Iranian cinema over the last few years, evident this year in the drastically low number of Iranian films being screened. This might be explained in part by two major external factors: 1) After Edinburgh’s special focus on Iran, where many of the better Iranian films of the year were handpicked by the festival, none of the same films had any chance of reaching London. LFF won’t show films premiered at EIFF. 2) The distribution of Iranian films outside of Iran has been disastrous, due to limitations in accessing the international market, the problem of cash transfer, restricted postal services and slow internet services, which rule out any possibility of uploading online screeners.