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Report of the Iranian Motion Picture Delegation at the LA-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - Day 3


Visits to Getty Visual Arts Museum and the first of Los Angeles, and the screening of “Journey to Hidalou” were the programs for the third day of the Iranian moviemakers’ trip to the US.

In 1983, American millionaire J. Paul Getty, opened a museum in his own name as an art and cultural center, much like what Haj Agha Hossein Malek did when he established the Malek National Museum and Library in Tehran. The collections of this museum include photographs, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, sculpture (busts, heads and abstract forms), drawings and paintings.

The museum’s architecture, which is consistent with its history, was awarded to and accomplished by the winner of a competition between American architects. The beautiful landscape of the East Garden with its variety of flowers is reminiscent of the Iranian garden architecture.

The painting collection of the Museum exhibits many priceless works of art from the 18th and 19th centuries, including works of Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne. At the photograph collection of the museum, 250 works of the recently deceased Irving Penn, mostly with the subject of works and crafts, are on exhibition. Architecture professor Ms. Shokooh accompanied the Iranian visitors as their guide during the conducted tour of the museum.

The visit to Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and the field of numerous rows of crosses, crescents and stars of David in memory of the American soldiers killed in Iraq was a high point of the third day’s program for the Iranian motion picture delegation. A project conceived and carried out by the American anti-war soldiers, the display of signs that had been placed in the sand just north of the Santa Monica Pier was a moving and poignant site that drew the attention of all spectators. Next to each religious sign, portraits of Iraqi civilian victims and fallen American soldiers were placed in neat rows on the sandy beach, creating a somber and compelling tableau.  

The last part of the day’s program (Sunday October 11th) was the screening of Mojtaba Raei’s “Journey to Hidalou” at the UCLA movie theater. Before the movie started, independent producer of American motion pictures William Horberg said how delighted he was that he could make the trip to Iran early this year, and added: “For us, this trip opened a window to a better understanding of Iran.” 

The screening of the film began at 19:30 and was followed by a Q&A session moderated by William Horberg, who first appreciated the powerful concept of Raei’s film and asked him where he got the idea for writing the script.  Raei said in response that it wasn’t such a difficult task, considering the spiritual teachings and mystical elements in the Iranian culture, and this script was personal perceptions from Molana (Rumi) and Attar’s ideologies. Horberg then praised the acting of Parvaneh Masoomi (Habibeh) and Homayoon Ershadi (main character’s brother in law), and then asked Raei what he had tried to say with this film. Raei said the conceptual essence of the film was paying attention to religion’s shell and core, and added: “Imitating the practice of religion without paying attention to its essence and core will hurt the person and those around him alike, and that’s all the message I wanted to convey.” He was later asked how he became a filmmaker, and he told a little story in answer: “I was an assistant cameraman during the Iran-Iraq war, and one day at the site of a heavy battle I lost contact with the cameraman and find myself in a minefield covered with casualties, and I somehow found the courage to shoot the first plan with an 8mm camera of a soldier who, having lost one hand in a mine explosion, was raising the other one in a V sign.”  Raei then said he believed films are generally made in two categories of great and bad, and then William Horberg came up with his own categorization, saying films are divided in 4 groups: Good films that make money and good films that don’t, bad films that make money and bad films that don’t. Horberg asked Raei if he intentionally insisted on making this film in three episodes like the “Birth of a Butterfly”. Raei replied: “This was not my initial intention, but the complexity of the script forced me to adopt the same approach.”

The Q&A session concluded at 22:00. 


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