Inaugural event opened in Tehran Monday

JOHANNESBURG — South African and Iranian filmmakers are reaching out to each other and exploring opportunities to work together at Iran’s inaugural South African Film Festival, which opened in Tehran on Monday.

Co-presented by the South African Embassy in Iran and South Africa’s Durban Film Festival, event runs through Thursdayand has included for screening “Yesterday,” directed by Darrell James Roodt; Ian Gabriel’s “Forgiveness”; Khalo Matabane’s “Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon”; Francois Verster’s “The Mother’s House”; and “Tamat,” by Munier Parker.

All five directors are in Iran to present their films, along with Videovision Entertainment’s Anand Singh (“Yesterday”) and Jeremy Nathan of DV8 Films (“Bunny Chow”). Singh said he was “delighted” to participate in this first festival.

“Iran is a great filmmaking country with very talented filmmakers, and we are proud to have distributed a few Iranian films here in South Africa,” Singh said. “The Makhmalbaf family are extremely talented and world-class filmmakers, and I am looking forward to discussing possibilities of joint ventures and of collaborating in future film projects.”

The South African ambassador to Iran, Yusuf Saloojee, whose idea it was to stage the festival, said the embassy viewed the initiative as “important for promoting cultural relations as well as an opportunity to expand interaction between the South African and Iranian film industries.”

Peter Rorvik, director of the Durban Festival, said that since the international promotion of South African cinema was one of the fest’s main aims, it was exciting to be involved in a project which would introduce South African cinema to new audiences, “particularly in a cinema-crazy country like Iran.”

Durban festival manager Nashen Moodley said he would further be exploring his fest’s growing relationship with Iranian filmmaking. Moodley noted that this year’s fest awarded both its film prize (Abolfazl Jalili’s “Full or Empty”) and director nod (Jafar Panahi for “Offside”) to Iranian films.

The Durban Film Festival, the oldest in South Africa, will hold its 28th edition from June 20-July 1.

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