Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Century of Korean Cinema, from Bologna to London



A slightly longer version of a note written for the catalogue of London Korean Film Festival 2019.


"There is a grave and learned air about the city, and a pleasant gloom upon it," wrote Charles Dickens of the city of Bologna, "that would leave [a] distinct and separate impression in the mind, among a crowd of cities." Grave and learned? Maybe. Gloom? Never, or shall we say Mr Dickens didn't get there in time for Il Cinema Ritrovato's evening screening in Piazza Maggiore? He would have loved Luis Buñuel's Los Olvidados which was seen this year by some 4,000 viewers.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Filmfarsi Chat with Toby Miller


Toby Miller interviews me for his Cambridge radio show on the movies. The occasion is the screening of Filmfarsi at Cambridge Film Festival on October 22 and 23. He has posted a transcription of the interview on TAKE ONE website:

Toby Miller: How did you decide to shine a light on the movies of Filmfarsi?

Ehsan Khoshbakht: Before I began my career in writing and working on film, my background was in architecture and urban design, and it was this background that actually initiated the Filmfarsi project. I decided to look at the use of modern architecture in Iranian popular films from before the Revolution. As I began to watch this period of Iranian cinema I realised that people outside Iran really didn’t know much about them.

Toby: And where does the term Filmfarsi originate from?

Ehsan: Filmfarsi was coined by one man in 1953 – the same the year as the coup. Amir Houshang Kavousi – educated in France and very interested in Art-house cinema – came up with term knowing that in Persian if you merge two words the result, as with Filmfarsi, is something that means neither Film nor Farsi (Persian). So it was a derogatory description by somebody who saw themselves as an enemy of Iranian popular cinema. But what I try to do in my documentary is show that the word today couldn’t be something entirely negative. What began as a way to make fun of Iranian commercial filmmakers is now rather something which describes a cinema which ran parallel to the Iranian art-house cinema we know as the New Wave.