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The Wasteland directed by Ahmad Bahrami
The Wasteland directed by Ahmad Bahrami

The 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF45) will highlight the works of a new generation of filmmakers from Iran and Italy this year. HKIFF45 will feature eight films by talented and innovative filmmakers in a curated section entitled Iranian New Cinema.

Following the footsteps of masters such as Kiarostami, Makhmalbaf, and Farhadi, Shahram Mokri confronts the ghosts of Iran’s troubled past while reflecting on the power of cinema in Careless Crime. In their dystopian thriller, District Terminal, Bardia Yadegari and Ehsan Mirhosseini pass comments on anxieties brought on by the global pandemic.

Ahmad Bahrami won Venice’s Orizzonti Best Film Award for crafting The Wasteland, a bleak and haunting drama of a world hell-bent on destroying itself. While Firouzeh Khosrovani’s Radiograph of a Family, a deeply personal documentary that reflects Iran’s opposing cultural identities, was the winner of Best Feature-Length Documentary at IDFA.

Demonstrating the uncompromisingly creative force of female Iranian filmmakers, Farnoosh Samadi’s 180o Rule and Mahnaz Mohammadi’s Son-Mother offer vivid portraits of women struggling against stale social norms in a totalitarian regime. Reza Dormishian joins in to expose the myriad obstacles women face in contemporary Iran with No Choice. Completing the section is Hidden, a shining example by maestro Jafar Panahi of how a short film can trigger fascinating contemplation of sexism and oppression in a novel way.

HKIFF45 will also present works by emerging Italian filmmakers showcasing creativity and innovation worthy of association with maestros such as Rossellini, Antonioni, and Fellini. Headlining the selection is Daniele Luchetti’s The Ties, which opened the last Venice Film Festival, a gripping marriage-in-crisis drama that critically examines familial bond. For Pietro Marcello’s lyrical rendition of Jack London’s novel Martin Eden, Luca Marinelli was named Best Actor at Venice. Bad Tales, a compelling urban fairy tale, won the D’Innocenzo brothers, Fabio and Damiano, a Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 2020 Berlinale.

2016 Berlinale Golden Bear winner with Fire at Sea, master documentarian Gianfranco Rosi returns with Notturno, a powerful observation of human resilience in a war-torn region. Nicolangelo Gelormini and Carlo Sironi, two invigorating and inspired young filmmakers, also impress with their debut features, Fortuna – The Girl and the Giants and Sole, respectively.

Besides nurturing local talents, Italian collaboration with the international community of filmmakers also contributes to some remarkable works featured in HKIFF45. Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy, the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Venice, is his long-gestating retelling of the infamous Dreyfus Affair. Inspired by neorealism, Iranian master Mohsen Makhmalbaf transposes his empathetic exploration of poverty and social issues to Italy in Marghe and Her Mother. Woody Allen’s Rifkin’s Festival, his latest homage to cinematic arts, and Andrey A. Tarkovsky’s Andrey Tarkovsky. A Cinema Prayer, a powerful eulogy to his father, are also indebted to Italian cinema’s support.

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