'Encounters' and 'Separation' bookend sprocket opera

L.A.’s Noor Iranian Film Festival, started by Siamak Ghahremani five years ago with the aim of fostering a better understanding of the culture and heritage of his country among Americans, has an important mission in a U.S. election year.

“Iran is a hot topic,” Ghahremani said. “President Obama wants to deal one way, Romney another. We, as an organization, don’t want to change any (voter’s) mind, but we owe it to Iranians around the world to let people know a little bit about our heritage.”

To that end, the fest, which opened Friday with “A Very Close Encounter,” will unspool “The Iran Job,” “Bedrooms,” “Bitter Milk” and “Love Crimes of Kabul.”

“It’s still very difficult to get films out,” he said. “Some filmmakers didn’t get permission to get their films to festivals outside Iran.”

The jury comprises thesps Tony Plana, Behrouz Vossoughi, Navid Negahban and Kristoff St. John plus scribe Homa Sarshar. Among those attending will be “Close” star Anahita Nemati, who missed the opening because the Iranian government delayed her passport.

Event closes Wednesday with Oscar foreign-language film winner “A Separation,” followed by an awards ceremony at the Skirball Center.

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