20 Oct 2021, 16:29

Tehran short film fest opens, with shot at Oscars for first time

  TEHRAN, Oct 20, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Tehran's International Short Film Festival

opened this week, for the first time as an Oscar-qualifying event, giving
winning entries a shot at an Academy Award.

  The festival jury has members from the Islamic republic as well as Italy,
Japan, France and Austria.

  The festival, now in its 38th edition and running until Sunday, earned
qualification this year as a gateway to Hollywood's annual awards showcase.

  The event "was added as a qualifying festival in the Short Films categories
this year," the the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed.
"And it is the only current qualifying festival in Iran."

  The designation came despite high tensions between Washington and Tehran,
which have had no diplomatic relations since 1979, before the festival began.

  This year's showcase also coincides with efforts to resume negotiations on
reviving Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and other world
powers, with the goal of ending a punishing sanctions regime.

  "I am both happy and proud of the qualification of our festival," the
event's president Sadegh Moussavi told AFP.

  "It's a big success of cultural diplomacy," he said with a smile. "We think
that culture and art can have a status more prestigious than politics."

  Tehran's festival has been a springboard for the big names of Iranian
cinema, including Asghar Farhadi, a two-time Oscar winner, Bahman Ghobadi and
Reza Mirkarimi, said festival spokesman Mansour Jahani.

  - Censorship accusation -

  Moussavi said Tehran's application to the Academy was initially rejected
because its entrants are not required to pay fees.

  "We replied that our country was under sanctions and therefore it is
impossible for those who want to present their films to pay registration
fees," he said.

  Tehran is the only short film festival without such fees among about 130 in
the world which are Oscar eligible, Moussavi said. Following recognition by
the Academy, this year's festival competition received more than 6,400
entries from 128 countries -- 2,000 more than last year.

  Five Iranian films and 58 from abroad were selected for the grand prize and
the winner will be presented to the Academy for possible Oscar nomination.

  The selections upset some young Iranian directors whose films were not
accepted, and led to accusations of censorship, including from film-maker
Farnoush Samadi.

  "It is my duty to write to the Academy to protest this censorship,
injustice and non-professional actions of the Tehran Festival," Samadi said
on Instagram.

  On the same social media platform Ali Asgari, a director, said that as a
member of the Academy he "will not vote for a film pre-selected by the Tehran
Short Film Festival in order to support all the film-makers whose films were

  Moussavi denied the accusations, saying that "there was no censorship on
our part. We received 1,500 films from Iranian film-makers. We have to make a
choice using as criteria the themes and quality of the film."




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