Iran’s Fajr Fest reveals contenders

23 films will compete for festival's top prize

LONDON- Organizers at the 26th Fajr International Film Festival in Iran have unveiled the list of Iranian features vying for the country’s most prestigious national film prize.

23 films will compete for the top prize, chief among them Majid Majidi’s “The Song of Sparrows,” which has also been selected in competition at the Berlin Film Fest.

Other Iranian films in contention at Fajr are Mohammad Reza Aslani’s “Green Fire,” Hamid Bahmani’s “That Man Came,” Reza Karimi’s “Reflection,” Abbas Rafei’s “Another Birth,” and Farzad Motamen’s “Music Box.”

Bahman Farmanara’s “Familiar Soil,” Siamak Shayeqi’s “Winter Dream,” Rasul Sadr-Ameli’s “Night” and Ibrahim Foruzesh’s “Hamun and the Sea” will also feature in the main selection.

The state-run fest is the most important event on the Iranian film calendar, with its selections often indicating the strength of Iranian filmmaking in any given year.

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Fest unspools this year from Feb. 1-11 with films screened at cinemas across Tehran.

Long a staple of international. film fests, Iranian cinema’s star has waned somewhat in recent years, as local filmmakers complain of bureaucratic delays and restrictions in receiving permits to film and screen their films. Nevertheless, the quantity of films produced every year remains impressive, with an average of 70-80 features.