Zurich Film Festival to Feature Iranian Cinema

Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

The Swiss fest will feature work from Iranian directors such as Jafar Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami and Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi.

Perfectly timed to coincide with the historic talks between the U.S. and Iran, the Zurich Film Festival has chosen Iran as its guest country for this year's event and will be celebrating the work of great Iranian directors.

The fest will focus on such acknowledged Persian masters as Taste of Cherry director Abbas Kiarostami (winner of Cannes' Palme d'Or), Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) and Jafar Panahi, whose latest feature, Taxi, won the Golden Bear in Berlin earlier this year.

The conflict between art and politics will be in focus — not least because Iranian directors work under one of the world's most restrictive regimes and censorship is strict and oppressive. But Iranian filmmakers have always managed to find a way.

Panahi, for example, has succeed in producing film after film despite being officially banned by the state from making movies. 

In addition to highlighting the stars of Persian cinema, Zurich will feature up-and-coming talents who are departing from traditional Iranian drama and experimenting with genres.

These include filmmakers such as Shahram Mokri, whose feature debut Fish & Cat, a one-take horror movie, won the Orizzonti award in Venice in 2013, and Hooman Seyedi, who claimed Pusan's New Current Award last year for his visually spectacular gangster drama 13.

The Zurich tribute will also include a selection of Iranian short films.

The 11th Zurich International Film Festival runs Sept. 24-Oct.4.