Since the Fajr International Film Festival (FIff) is among the FIAPF-accredited film festival, participation in it brings credit to international cineastes.
This new record opened a new chapter for the festival and brings new opportunities.
Iran Daily conducted an exclusive interview with the festival’s deputy director, Amir Esfandiari, to learn more about the FIff inclusion in FIAPF, and holding this year’s festival in both virtual and in-person versions after a one-year hiatus.
The full text of the interview follows:
IRAN DAILY: Please explain how the 38th film festival is held after a one-year hiatus?
ESFANDIARI: As organizers of the festival, we faced serious challenges in holding the festival during the COVID-19 pandemic, because holding a festival is not a simple task and requires a lot of bureaucracy.
Last year, everything was planned for holding a festival in-person. We had invited about 500 foreign guests and all the films were scheduled to be screened, but we did not expect the spread of the coronavirus to create such a terrible situation. At first, we thought we would be able to run the festival with some months’ delay, but the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country deprived Iran of this possibility.
Since we could not accept a two-year interruption in holding the festival, there were some arrangements to hold the gala this year. Thus, it was supposed to be held in any way possible and we proposed three plans for having the festival in the days of the coronavirus: In Plan A, we decided to hold the event with a limited number of participants (one-fifth of the usual number of foreign guests), and just invite key individuals and jury members (considering the fact that we need to have judges in six different sections). Plan B was to hold the event in hybrid form. In Plan C, it was predicted that the festival would be physically canceled and all sections would be held virtually. At the end of the day, we implemented Plan B, which is both physical and virtual.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of holding the festival in both virtual and in-person versions?
In the 38th edition, the film market section, which is related to the presentation and distribution of Iranian films and cinematic productions, is being held virtually. We organized the online screening of 85 Iranian short and feature films in this section. All arrangements to purchase these cinematic products are made in online chat rooms.
With the virtual holding of this section, the registration in workshops has increased tenfold over the previous editions; those who could not use the festival’s opportunities due to long distances took advantage of this possibility. Therefore, the challenges that COVID-19 created for us in holding the festival also had some advantages, especially in cyberspace.
Please explain how FIff was included in FIAPF?
The inclusion of FIff brings credit to the festival, since FIAPF ranks the festivals of the world, and now we are among the top sixteen. There are about 10,000 film festivals across the globe, and the inclusion of Fajr on this list is very influential in welcoming great cinema experts to participate in the FIff.
What are the criteria for selecting works to be screened at the Fajr festival?
The Fajr festival focuses on successful films and works from all over the world. However, it has a regional perspective, and if anyone wants to see a film about regional issues and the surrounding countries, the best option is the FIff. For example, some countries in our region, including Oman and Kuwait, do not have a major film industry; however, because of the regional perspective of the FIff, we cover their films, even though they may not have outstanding works.
On the other hand, this festival has a special view on presenting and introducing Iranian films to foreign audiences, who are mostly film experts, festival presidents, and international cinematic figures.