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House of Cinema’s Managing Director talks about the 2009 Cannes Film Festival



House of Cinema’s Managing Director talks about the 2009 Cannes Film Festival

On the final days before the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival, Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpour announced the names of the delegates dispatched by the House of Cinema to this festival, and also reported that the House of Cinema will have a stand at the festival this year.  According to ISNA news agency, he emphasized that part of the objective behind attending international festivals is to maintain the connection which is imperative for us; otherwise we will fade out of the international cinema community before we know it.
The Muslim Filmmakers Convention did not make it in time for the 2009 Cannes Festival.
Referring to the two House of Cinema initiatives for the attendance of Iranian filmmakers in the Cannes Festival, House of Cinema’s Managing director said to the ISNA reporter: “First among the initiatives we had as our priorities was to hold the Muslim Filmmakers Convention at the 2009 Cannes Festival. The idea needed serious considerations so that we could work it out in a well versed manner. In addition, the Cinematic Department of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance needed to be in full knowledge of everything concerned, so that we could eventually reach an agreement on all aspects.”
He continued: “Cinematic Department believed that we must give the idea some more thought and do some feasibility study at this year’s Cannes Festival, because such a convention might have certain consequences.”
Asgarpour pointed out: “The observations that are made in our society about the Cannes Film Festival and the sort of relationship between the Cannes Festival and the Iranian Cinema makes the issue a little sensitive, which is why the idea of holding the convention this year was not approved by the Cinema Department. We will of course follow up the idea, provided we can do some more expert research on the issue before the next Cannes festival.”
He further added: “We will go through the preliminary stages at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, so that if the opportunity comes up to put the plan in action in another festival or venue, we will be prepared to move ahead and carry it out the plan.”
Our second initiative for this year’s Cannes Festival was partially realized.
Referring to the second initiative of the House of cinema for 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Asgarpour maintained: “Our second priority plan, which was partially realized, was to make it possible for Iran Cinema Celebration and Fajr Film Festival winners to attend international film festivals, such as Cannes Festival, as do our colleagues and experts at the Cinematic Department of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and its affiliates and the Farabi Cinema Foundation, who regularly attend the Cannes film Festival every year.”
He admitted: “We have this initiative on agenda for other international festivals as well, so that we can keep up with all other film festivals that are regularly held, keep the international relations of the Iranian cinema going, and have some of Iran Cinema Celebration and Fajr Film Festival winners attend these festivals.”
Referring to the approval of the Cinema Department to realize House of Cinema’s second initiative, Asgarpour said: “This year, we were given the opportunity to invite the winners of Iran Cinema Celebration in the categories of best film, best director and best screenwriter to attend the 2009 Cannes film Festival as the guests of the Cinematic Department. 
House of Cinema will have a booth at Cannes Film Festival.
Referring to the House of Cinema’s booth at the Iranian cinema’s pavilion, Asgarpour said: “Naturally with a booth at the festival, some of the board members of the House of Cinema should be there to introduce the organization and its activities. Therefore, two board members will go to Cannes, in addition to the award winners which I mentioned before.”
He added: “With the exception of Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association’s former president Mahboubeh Honarian, who will be in charge of the Iranian Cinema section, other colleagues will attend the event in two separate groups. We have divided the festival into two five day parts, and each group will attend one.”
He explained: “The first group, which was consisted of award winners Mr. Basheh-Ahangar and Mr. Gohari, board member Mr. Razzagh Karimi and Ms. Mahboubeh Honarian, left for Cannes last night. The second group, which will fly to Cannes for the second week of the festival on the return of the first group, includes the producer of Iran Cinema Celebration’s best film “Child of the Earth” Mr. Miralaie, director Mr. Farmanara (he was invited but I can’t confirm that he will accompany the delegation), and board member Kamran Maleki, who will also be in charge of media relations.” 
On what will be offered at the House of Cinema’s booth, Asgarpour told ISNA: “We will present comprehensive information on the House of Cinema, motion picture guilds, active production and distribution offices and influential people in the Iranian cinema in the forms of English brochures and catalogues, also CDs of special House of Cinema events including the visit of the Oscar Academy members and so on.” 
He also said: “We sent text messages to all film producers, informing them that we are prepared to introduce their films at our Cannes booth, and fortunately we had a very good response on that. Of course there are other booths including the Farabi Cinema Foundation and some other private and semi-governmental institutions who will be presenting films under their contracts, but we have announced that we are prepared to present any film which has been made by the members of the House of Cinema.”
Asgarpour will attend the FIAPF General Assembly in Cannes
On his participation in the FIAPF General Assembly in Cannes, Asgarpour said: “The General Assembly of FIAPF will be held at Cannes, and House of Cinema is an official FIAPF member, so I will attend the assembly as the representative of the House of Cinema. During the assembly, members will vote for the next president and vice presidents. I was invited to be a candidate, but we haven’t had a serious presence at FIAPF so far –we’ve been a member and we’ve had a representative, but had no special output. At any rate and keeping everything in mind, we should first build up the necessary documentation for such a position, and complete our data on the board member candidacy; we shouldn’t do something just for the sake of appearance. We should consider the situation from all aspects. Anyway, the proposition for my candidacy has been made, and we should wait and see what decision we will make on the issue by the May 17 general Assembly.”
We shouldn’t go to any extremes on either side.
On the complaints made about the attendance of some directors and officials at the Cannes Festival since last year, Asgarpour told ISNA: “We should be careful not to go to extremes on either side. Just recently we noticed that as a result of such comments and complaints, a couple of booths which were supposed to be there at the 2009 Cannes Festival have concluded that to cut back in expenses, they should cancel their attendance, and apparently they have done so, which was not the right thing to do.
We should have a noteworthy presence at the world events.
Asgarpour stressed: “We should attend this event, which is one of the biggest film festivals of the world, on a noteworthy level, but we should be mindful of all aspects of the issue. Furthermore, those with some level of authority, and I specifically mean the governmental management in cinema, should do what they can to realize the communication of experiences through different channels. For example, we should not forget the necessity of the international presence of filmmakers and those who can come up with news outlooks. Otherwise, there will be no valid excuse for the whole event or project in the public view.” 
Asgarpour further specified: “Part of the objective behind attending international festivals is to maintain the connection which is imperative for us; otherwise we will fade out of the international cinema community before we know it. Another part of it goes back to the selection of movies, which should be done for national festivals or public screenings. All and all, since a specific time last year there has been a certain kind of media atmosphere in our society. Apparently, the lack of a proper balance between the volume of directors who should have attended and our cinema officials added fuel to the marginal disputes until some people now think they should go to the opposite extreme and not attend the Cannes Festival at all.”
It would be a better statement to make a film about the Persian Gulf.
On the proposal to object the distortion of the name “Persian Gulf” at the Cannes Festival, House of cinema’s Managing Director believes: “That’s a good move, but I did not quite understand the mechanism, and how this objection is going to be made. However, I believe making a film about the Persian Gulf would be a better statement to show the feelings of the art community.”


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