Mehrjui, philosopher of Iranian Cinema (8 December 1939 - 14 October 2023)

System Administrator Tuesday February 20, 2024

Dariush Mehrjui (8 December 1939- 14 October 2023) and Vahideh Mohammadifar, his wife and co-scriptwriter of his latest films, were tragically stabbed to death in the midnight of 14 th of October in their villa, in a suburb of Tehran. We, in Iran, say that we are used to confront everything, any unexpected tragedy, but again and again, we are surprised and even more startled and crazy! Who could believe the most influential filmmaker of Iranian cinema and his wife would become the victims of such suspicious crime! An artist, so lively and energetic at 84, who was writing several scripts and novels, eagerly reading and translating, painting, playing music,… An intellectual, in absolute definition of the word. His films have been chosen among the best of Iranian film history in several polling and no other director’s movies are that much loved and seen by film-lovers, critics and ordinary people.


Iranian filmmaker, Dariush Mehrjui
Iranian filmmaker, Dariush Mehrjui


A true believer as a teenager, he then fell in love with art, music, painting, literature and then his obsession, Philosophy. He moved to US to study filmmaking in 1959 and after a short while, he preferred to shift into philosophy. He published a periodical, Pars Review, in the 60s in California through which he could introduce the new Iranian literature and poetry. He returned home in 1965 and after two years, he his debut feature film, DIAMOND 33, which was a success at the box-office, however, Mehrjui never included this film his career! He was involved in all Iranian intellectual communities in 60s and 70s and became acquainted with many like Gholam- Hossein Sa’edi, a playwright, whose works were the source of adaptations for couple of Mehrjui’s next films, including THE COW (1969), which was banned immediately by the regime of Shah for two years but it was shown at Cannes (1971), Venice (1971) and Berlin (1972) festivals and it was very well received by the audience and critics and formed the NEW WAVE of IRANIAN CINEMA in 70s, together with other filmmakers like Massoud Kimiai, Nasser Taghvai, Sohrab Shahid- Saless, Amir Naderi, Parviz Kimiavi, Abbas Kiarostami, Bahram Bayzai, Ali Hatami, Bahmand Farmanara, Kamran Shirdel and Mohammad- Reza Aslani.

Dariush Mhejui’s film career, according to he himself, has been always influenced by censorship rather than his own wish! After THE COW, he had to make MR. NAÏVE in 1970, however, he then made two other masterpieces, THE POSTMAN (1971) and THE CYCLE (1975) which both were kept in the shelves of censorship for years. He was not able to make any films after such limitations or he had to consider some consideration! He’s always been a suspicious both at the time of Shah and then Islamic Republic, though many believe that Ayatollah Khomeini’s quotation on THE COW, saved the so-called notorious pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema and many of the art filmmakers could continue to make films after the revolution. One should say that, Mehrjui, like majority of intellectuals, were enthusiastically involved in the Revolution and Dariush recorded many demonstrations and events in 1978 too.


'The Cow' (1969) is regarded as the film that ushered in the new wave movement in Iranian cinema.  
'The Cow' (1969) is regarded as the film that ushered in the new wave movement in Iranian cinema.  


Dariush Mehrjui made THE SCHOOL WE WENT TO in 1980 for KANOON, however, this film was banned for 9 years and made Mehrjui and his family to immigrate to France in 1981. Again, he returned home after a while and made a comedy, THE LODGERS in 1987 which turned to be a box-office hit and in the meantime controversial movie, as some hard-liners believed it is a parody on Islamic Republic and he was even threatened to death. Again, the same story and Mehrjui was forced to make another conservative movie, SHIRAK in 1988, a film that the maestro did not like it either. Another turning point if Dariush Mehrjui’s film career is HAMOON (which together with THE COW) are at the top of any film polling in Iran. Though, not well received outside Iran, HAMOON, a psychological drama, is a cult movie in Iranian cinema who has formed a new generation of film fans and even filmmakers in Iran. Mehrjui said that he was under impact of Sadegh Hedayat’s THE BLIND OWL and the character of Hamid Hamoon, played by legendary Khosrow Shakibai, is an archetype for any Iranian cinema fans and all know that Hamid Hamoon is indeed the story of Dariush Mehjui’s himself. Needless to say that Dariush Mehjui has created the highest number of film characters, comparing the other Iranian filmmakers. Following the great success of HAMOON, Mehrjui directed his next film BANOO (The Lady) with Bita Farrahi (lead actress of HAMOON who passed away few days ago!), a free adaptation on Luis Bunuel’s VIRIDIANA which was very overtly a metaphor of the current regime and again was banned for 9 years!! He then started his feministic trilogy, SARA (1993), PARI (1995) and LEILA (1996) and then THE PEAR TREE in 1998, all well received at home and abroad, especially SARA and LEILA. His next films, MIX (2000), TO STAY ALIVE (2002, screened in Cannes), MUM’S GUEST (2004, a comedy) and SANTOURI (2007) which was a very popular film at the time of screening at the Fajr Film Festival, but later again banned and it totally changed the life of the author. The pirated copies of the films were released illegally in Iran and abroad and Dariush Mehrjui’s film career was eventually changed after such shocking experience. He made another five feature films, after SANTOURI, but the films were not that much well received by the critics at home. Dariush Mehrjui was trying to avoid the mad society, like his friend Abbas Kiarostami, resorted to nature and lived in a villa far from Tehran. Though, looking for the reason of life, death and existence, like the characters of all his films, he’s was still optimistic and active. Mr. Nehrjui was an influential filmmaker who has been influenced the cultural development and growth of his society more than any other contemporary artists in Iran.

- Written by Mohammad Atebbai

The 15th Tashkent International Film Festival

System Administrator Wednesday December 20, 2023

Over the years of its existence, the Tashkent International Film Festival, a prominent Central Asian film forum, has undergone several name changes. It was first held in the Uzbek SSR in 1958. The festival became biennial in 1968 under the name Festival of Films of Asia and Africa, and from 1977 onwards, Latin America was included in its title, clearly defining the geography of participating countries. The Festival of Cinemas of Asia, Africa and Latin America served as a platform for cultural dialogue, bringing together the USSR and newly independent post-colonial states that emerged after World War II. According to Rossen Djagalov, an American researcher of the festival’s history as a diplomatic tool, the choice of Tashkent as the festival venue was not accidental. “As the largest city in Soviet Central Asia, combining ancient history and modern industrialization, the Uzbek capital embodied ‘Central Asian modernity.’ Tashkent was supposed to serve as an example of the Soviet model for former colonial societies.” Until 1988, the Tashkent International Film Festival, held under the slogan ‘For peace, social progress, and the people’s freedom,’ contributed to the widespread promotion and distribution of Soviet, Central Asian, and Caucasian films. It also introduced the USSR audience to cinema from developing countries and even unknown regions where the film industry was just emerging. The demonstration of each other’s achievements became a stimulus for the professional growth of future masters of world cinema, further fostering international co-productions, such as ‘Alibaba and the Forty Thieves’ (India-USSR, 1980) directed by Umesh Mehra and Latif Faiziyev, ‘Mera naam Joker’ by Raj Kapoor (India, 1970), ‘The Battle of the Three Kings’ (USSR-Morocco-Spain-Italy, 1990) by Moroccan director Souheil Ben- Barka and Uzbek director Uchqun Nazarov, etc. The festival also became a platform for debates on the development of cinema in new countries and played a role in increasing the number of local film critics and the development of film studies in Uzbekistan. After the disintegration of the USSR, in the early years of Independent Uzbekistan the festival was renamed Tashkent International Film Festival and was held in 1992 and 1997. It was revived only in 2021 under the name ‘Pearl of the Silk Road’, organized by the Agency of Cinematography under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan. 

This year the 15th Tashkent International Film Festival was held in the capital of Uzbekistan from September 29 to October 2.

During the past three years, I had the opportunity to attend the revived film festival in various capacities: as a member of the official Tajik delegation in 2021, as a participant in the pitching session for Central Asian film projects organized by Alliance Francais in Uzbekistan during the Tashkent Film Festival in 2022, and as a jury member for the National Film Competition in 2023. This experience provided me with a multifaceted perspective on the event.

The former Soviet-type of Cinema theatre called earlier ‘Panoramic’ was renovated and renamed Alisher Navoi Cinema Palace, serving as the venue for the festival’s Opening Ceremony, as well as for panel discussions inside the building and under the open sky. Notably, on weekdays, the Alisher Navoi Cinema Palace is used as a Cinema reserved specifically for screening Uzbek films. Another main festival venue is the ‘Uzbekfilm’ Studio, where educational events for the local students of film and mass media departments and fellows of ‘Make a Film in 5 Days’, the intensive competition program, take place. ‘Make a Film in 5 Days’ provides invited teams of young filmmakers from the post-Soviet space with a unique opportunity to make a short film in various locations of the country such as historical landmarks and exotic markets in Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva etc., depending on the script. The festival provides the teams with the local film crew and equipment, but pre-production, filming, and post-production must be completed within 5 days, after which the film is judged by an international jury.

The festival also hosts industry panels where the film professionals discuss relevant issues or make presentations, and where memorandums of cooperation in the field of co-production between Uzbekistan and invited countries are signed. For example, Umesh Mehra, an Indian film director is collaborating with Uzbekistan again on a remake of ‘Alibaba and the Forty Thieves’. Thus, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have launched a joint feature film project about Alisher Navoi and Abdurahman Jami, the classics of the two nations of the 15th century, and other projects. Overall the film festival strives to balance between popular cinema, attracting international film stars, and more artistic cinema. For example, the meeting with Takeshi Kitano, the Japanese film director, was a significant event in 2022, and there was a meeting with Alexander Sokurov, the Russian film director, along with the Uzbek premiere of his recent film ‘Fairy Tale’, banned in Russia in 2023.

Overall, the involvement of Uzbek youth, the local students and festival volunteers, is impressive. In 2022, participants of the festival’s educational program, including workshops and lectures, representing various creative university departments in Tashkent, were given special T-shirts with the name of their creative profession: film director, producer, actor, cinematographer, screenwriter, composer. Additionally, the nearby Tashkent branch of the All- Russian State Institute of Cinematography named after S. Gerasimov (VGIK) serves as another festival venue for the meeting of established filmmakers, actors and students. Alliance Francais has been organizing the ‘Talents of Central Asia’ pitching session in the framework of the Tashkent Film Festival for the second year, selecting the top three film projects that will have the opportunity to be presented to the Centre National du Cinéma et de l'İmage Animée (CNC) in the future. It is an important development given the emergence of a local incubation hub for film projects in Central Asia compared to project markets and international labs in Europe, where only 1 or 2 projects from Central Asia participate annually.

In 2021-2022, the film festival was a non-competitive film forum for feature films, featuring only panoramic screenings of invited films, while the competition was reserved for short films by young directors and the ‘Shoot a Film in 5 Days’ program. An innovation in 2023 was the reevaluation of the significance of the film festival platform for promoting Central Asian and national feature films. Therefore, separate competitions were introduced for national films and films from Central Asia. Thus, in 2023, the film festival had three international jury panels:

Anne Demy- Geroe (Australia), Co- President of NETPAC, the film critics Gulnara Abikeeva (Kazakhstan), Gulbara Tolomusheva (Kyrgyzstan), Olga Strada (Italy), and I from Tajikistan,  evaluated 15 national films in 5 categories: ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor/Actress’, and ‘Special Mention by the Jury’.

The film directors Ali Khamraev (Uzbekistan), Alexander Sokurov (Russia), Siddiq Barmak (Afghanistan-France), Shukhrat Makhmudov (Uzbekistan), and Khodjakuli Narliev (Turkmenistan) assessed the national and international short film competition program, ‘Making a Film in 5 Days’.

The film directors Krzysztof Zanussi (Poland), Semih Kaplanoglu (Turkey), Irakli Kvirikadze (Georgia), Venice Film Festival programmer Giulia D ’Agnolo Vallan (USA), and Christiane Büchner (Germany), Berlin Film Festival’s Forum programmer, evaluated 11 films from 5 Central Asian republics: three each from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, and one each from Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Due to the program’s extensive nature and the intense work of the international jury, the organizers decided that our jury would watch the films remotely, and announce the winners of the National Competition at the grand Opening Ceremony of the film festival.

The National Competition program aimed to strike a balance between Uzbekistan's arthouse and mainstream cinema. This is explained by Uzbekistan’s long-standing reputation in Central Asia as a hub of Bollywood-style entertaining cinema, supported by numerous independent production houses and dubbing studios, exporting Uzbek mainstream films, particularly melodramas, to neighboring countries such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, the competition program included both arthouse and popular films produced in Uzbekistan over the last 3 years, directed by both veterans and young filmmakers.

These films include ‘Captivity’ by Rashid Malikov, ‘Legacy’ by Hilol Nasimov, ‘Screenwriter’ by Zulfiqor Musokov, ‘School is My Life’ by Ilkhom Muhammadibragimov, ‘Adversities of Life’ by Abdukayum Yuldoshev, ‘I Am Not a Terrorist. The Story of My Death’ by Muhammadali Iskandarov, ‘Wedding in a Day’ by Shokhruh Rasulov, ‘Woman’s Heart’ by Jamila Pulatova, ‘Road to Nowhere’ by Kamara Kamalova, ‘Flight 101’ by Akrom Shahnazarov, ‘Aroma of Melons in Samarkand’ by Ali Khamraev, ‘Baron-2’ by Rustam Sadiyev, ‘Peri’s Gift’ by Farhod Mahmudov, ‘Women’s Fate’ by Dilmurod Masaidov, and ‘Abdulla Oripov, singer of Independence’ by Muzaffar Erkinov.

After reviewing the entire program, our jury decided to commend the film ‘Road to Nowhere’ by Kamara Kamalova as the ‘Best Film’. It is an intimate story set in Bukhara’s mahalla (city district), portraying a clash between traditionally accepted behavior and new morals. The film unfolds slowly, with a reflexive and, at times, autobiographical texture, as the director made the film at the age of 84, sharing the outlook of the aged protagonist. Despite the film’s produced on state funds, it maintains an independent treatment. This award highlighted the heroic contribution of Kamara Kamalova, who remained the only female film director working in Uzbek cinema for a long time.

The award for ‘Best Director’ went to Ali Khamraev, a veteran of Uzbek cinema, for his 2021 film ‘The Aroma of Melons in Samarkand’, a nostalgic atmospheric narrative about the twists of life in this ancient city, revolving around the protagonist who builds a memorial monument in honor of his father missing in World War II. The ‘Best Actor’ award was posthumously given to the lead actor of the film ‘Flight 101’ Hoshim Arslonov, who played a pilot embarking on his last flight before retirement. Rano Shodieva, a renowned Uzbek actress, was honored with the ‘Best Actress’ award for her performance in the female-driven film ‘Women’s Fate’, directed by Dilmurod Masaidov. The jury granted a special prize to the film ‘The Screenwriter’ by Zulfikar Musakov, in which there is an interplay between reality and imagination. The film contains autobiographical elements, revealing the challenges of creating the film the author truly desires. Our jury decided to recognize films by young filmmakers alongside veterans of cinema and, therefore, established two Jury Special Mention Diplomas. The recipients were the film ‘Abdulla Aripov: Singer of Independence’, directed by Muzaffar Erkinov, the film interesting as a product of post-independent Uzbekistan, reflecting on its culture, state-building, and the hardships that evoke the rise of national identity. Another Jury Special Mentions was awarded to the film ‘Adversities of Life’ directed by Abdukayum Yuldoshev, the film somehow similar to ‘The Aroma of Melons in Samarkand’, that touches on the theme of ‘mahalla’, a fundamentally Central Asian collective neighborliness around which residents gather not only to solve relevant daily issues but also to become a social force resisting the city’s wrong renovation.

In addition to competitive programs, the presentations of world cinema with the participation of delegations from 52 countries  were conducted. About 20 cinemas in Tashkent and other cities of Uzbekistan were involved, showcasing around 50 domestic and 100 foreign films.  One of the festival’s strengths deserving appreciation is the broad popularization of films from the world panorama section under the title ‘Kinokaravan’ (Cine-caravan). This is especially important for Central Asian cinema in a situation where the regional films find it challenging to secure regional distribution. In 2021-2022, each official delegation was directed to various cities in Uzbekistan for a few days to screen their films in regional theaters, a tribute to the tradition of the Tashkent Film Festival of the Soviet era. For example, the Tajik delegation had the opportunity to explore ancient cities such as Kokand, Fergana, Margilan . Other delegations could visit Bukhara, Navoi, Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya, Khorezm, and Karakalpakstan. Thus, coming to Uzbekistan allowed them to immerse themselves in the regional culture of the country. Local hospitality was expressed through the presence of famous actors and figures from Uzbek cinema accompanying these delegations, facilitating dialogue.

In addition to the competitive film screenings, the film festival featured a program of about 40 Turkic-language films. These screenings, along with the presentation of the Golden Star Award for contributions to strengthening cultural ties in Turkic world, were organized by the International Organization of Turkic Culture (TÜRKSOY).

In 2023, as part of the Tashkent Film Festival, the 115th anniversary of Khudaybergen Devanov, the first photographer and founder of Uzbek cinema, was celebrated. In 1908, he conducted the first documentary filming and public demonstrations of cinema in Khorezm. In connection with this, a cinema named after Khudaybergen Devanov was ceremoniously opened in Khorezm, his homeland.

Returning to the annals of cinema, one recalls the train that was captured in the first documentary shots. The Tashkent Film Festival also has its own train, ‘Afrasiyab’ (named after the legendary Samarkand king), which traditionally, even in the Soviet period, transported festival guests to Samarkand and Bukhara. And this time too, about 300 festival guests were smoothly and organically transported from Tashkent to Samarkand on this train. The Closing Ceremony of the film festival took place in Samarkand at the Silk Road Samarkand tourist complex, designed by Babur Ismailov, the talented contemporary Uzbek artist. The structure of the Eternal City (another name for the Silk Road Samarkand complex) itself resembled a revived fairy tale of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, and the amphitheater stage reminded of the observatory of Ulugh Beg, a historical monument of Samarkand from the 15th century.

At the Closing Ceremony, the results of the ‘Cinema of Central Asia’ Competition were announced, a program that can be called the highlight of this year film festival. To this day, no Central Asian film festival has a stable competition program intended exclusively for feature and documentary films from Central Asian countries. This is largely explained by the fact that not many feature-length art films are produced in the region and in individual countries.  The programmers usually face risks collecting these films, thus balancing the programs with films from nearby and distant foreign countries. Several years ago, the Eurasian International Film Festival (Kazakhstan) focused on films from Central Asian countries, later the Dushanbe International Film Festival (Tajikistan) attempted to present a program of feature films from all Central Asian countries, but it has not been held since the pandemic. Therefore, for the development of cinema, it is significant that the Tashkent Film Festival of this year introduced a Central Asian competition. For example, Krzysztof Zanussi, the Jury Chairman, noted one of the merits of this festival, stating that it ‘…allows to discover films that are otherwise difficult to see. Central Asian films are not available in Europe, we don’t see them, and at the festival, we have the opportunity to get to know the authors and their works’.   The winners of the Central Asian film competition were the films ‘Sunday’ by Uzbek director Shokir Kholikov (Best Film), ‘Steppe’ by Kazakh director Maxim Akbarov (Best Debut), ‘Brothers’ by Kazakh director Darkhan Tulegenov (Best Director), ‘Teaching Ademoka’ by Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Jury’s Special Prize), and Kyrgyz actress Taalaikan Abazova, who played in the film ‘Esimde’, was awarded the prize for ‘Best Female Role’. The ‘Best Male Role’ was awarded to the Kyrgyz film ‘Smell of Wormwood’ by Aibek Dairbekov.

Summing up my impressions of the 15th Tashkent International Film Festival, it’s worth noting the strong aspects of the film forum. These include the engagement of a vast number of students and young people in workshops and public talks, regional screenings of international film program, and the promotion of Central Asian films (both in competition and in panoramas). These films are often intentionally dubbed into Uzbek for the local audiences, allowing them to finally see movies from neighboring countries. For the second consecutive year, the pitching event ‘Talents of Central Asia’, organized in collaboration with Alliance Francais, stands out. This event could become the first step towards establishing a Tashkent Film Market in the framework of the International Tashkent Film Festival in the coming years, continuing the cultural Silk Road legacy.

Written by Sharofat Arabova

Asian Winners in Cannes

System Administrator Saturday July 15, 2023

The 76th Cannes Film Festival has come to an end. NETPAC board member Ed Lejano noted that five out of ten awards were given to Asian films. In general, in the Main competition, 3 out of 21 films were submitted from Asia, 6 out of 20 in Un Certain Regard, 5 out of 19 in Directors' Fortnight, and 1 out of 7 in Critics' Week. Certainly Asian films demonstrate the power and diversity of Asian cinema, despite the fact that there were not so many Asian films - 15 films out of 67 in the four official programs of Cannes.

NETPAC meeting at Cannes this year for a catch up at the Iranian Independents booth.
NETPAC meeting at Cannes this year for a catch up at the Iranian Independents booth.


Monster by Kore-eda Hirokazu won The Best Screenplay award, which was presented to Yuji Sakamoto. Seventy years later, we have a new version of Rashomon: the story of a teenager at school is told from three points of view: his single mother, who believes that her son at school is being terrorized by a teacher, from the point of view of that teacher - a kind person in essence and through the eyes of the boy himself who lives in the wonderful world of his fantasies and hobbies. Truth does not exist, there is only a point of view. Ruichi Sakomoto wrote a wonderful music for the film - it was his last work in the cinema.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan competed seven times in the main competition of Cannes. Also, like Hirokazu, he was awarded the Palme d'Or in 2014 for the film Winter Sleep. His new film, About Dry Grasses, is a slow, mediatic film about a teacher at a school who is accused of pedophilia. The film won The Best Actress: award for Merve Dizdar, who played a teacher with one artificial leg who the protagonist tries to care for. 

The third Asian prize was also given to actor -  Koji Yakusho for The Best Actor in Wim Wenders' Perfect Days. We remember him very well from the films Eel by Imamura, Babel by Iñarritu and other films. The film was shot in Japan, and just as Wim Wenders once made a film about an Angel over Berlin, so now it’s about an Angel over Tokyo. The hero Koji Yakusho cleans public toilets in the morning, and the rest of the time he observes the beauty of life - just pure zen.

The fourth and fifth prizes went to Vietnamese directors, which, in my opinion, speaks of a new status in the world of Vietnamese cinema.

The Best Director award went to Tran Anh Hung for the French film The Pot-au-Feu, starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel. All critics noted that this is an ideally made film, externally it is about cooking, but internally about love that breaks hearts. Tran Anh Hung has already received such high awards as the Golden Lion of Venice for Cyclo, the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for The Scent of Green Papaya, but the victory at Cannes once again confirmed his high directing level.

The Golden Camera for Best Debut Film was awarded to the Vietnamese film Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell directed by Pham Thien An and screened in the Directors' Fortnight program. Set in the wild and obscure landscapes of Vietnam, this is a stunningly beautiful film about a man named Thien who carries the body of his bride who died in a motorcycle accident to Saigon.

That’s all about the winners. But I also would like to note the Mongolian cinema, which made a breakthrough this year and was shown for the first time in Cannes. Zoljargal Purevdash’s If Only I Could Hibernate  a participant of the "Un Certain Regard" program. A story about how in a poor family a mother with her youngest child leaves to work, and the remaining four children themselves survive in a cold yurt in winter. At the same time, the film has a lot of humor and light.

Written by Gulnara Abikeyeva

Asian highlights from the 76th Cannes Film Festival

System Administrator Saturday July 15, 2023

On Wednesday May 17 at 7pm, Kore-eda Hirokazu's Monster made its world premiere in competition, to thunderous applause. The film's narrative structure uses numerous flashbacks. The originality of this narrative caught the eye of the jury, who awarded the screenplay prize to Sakamoto Yuji, the film's screenwriter. 

On Thursday May 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Critic’s Week, Jordanian director Amjad Al Rasheed's Inchallah a boy was screened, a beautiful portrait of a widow who frees herself from the guardianship of men thanks to her fierce willpower. The Israeli-born Palestinian actress Mouna Hawa, who has already made a name for herself in Maysaloun Hamoud's In Between, gives a remarkable performance.

At 2.30pm, Wang Bing's Youth (Spring) is presented in competition at the Grand Théâtre Lumière. This is the first part of Wang Bing's 3:32-hour documentary on the work of young Chinese textile workers. The length of the work is a trademark, a signature of the great Chinese documentary filmmaker.

At 3pm on Gray d'Albion beach, on the initiative of the CNC and KOFIC, the official launch of the France-Korea Film Academy took place. Kim Dong-ho, co-founder of the Busan Film Festival, was named president of this institution, which will strengthen ties between French and Korean film professionals. The academy will have three components: training, culture and industry.

The various presidents of film institutions in ASEAN member countries were also present. They were invited to discuss future co-production projects. 

At the end of the working session, Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak presented the insignia of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres to KOFIC President Park Ki-yong on behalf of the French Republic. 

During the drink of friendship, representatives of the various government bodies present, notably the FDCP (Film Development Council of Philippines), were able to talk with those present, who were particularly attentive to Asian cinema.

At 5:30 p.m., as part of Cannes Classics at the Salle Buñuel, the 1947 Record of a Tenement Gentleman by Ozu Yasujiro, produced and restored by Shochiku and distributed by Carlotta Films, was screened. The screening was attended by Wim Wenders, the most "Ozuian" of Western directors, and was introduced by Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival.   

The evening of Thursday, March 18, 2023 was rich in events celebrating Asian cinema: at 7pm La Mongolian Cinema Night, at the Croisette Beach, proving the vitality of Mongolian cinema, followed at 8:45pm by Taiwan Cinema Night at Long Beach and finally from 10pm onwards by the Wang Bing evening on the Arte boat. 

On Friday May 19 at 11am in the Salle Buñuel, as part of Cannes Classics, festival-goers were treated to a little gem of Indian cinema, Ishanou - The Chosen One by Aribam Syam Sharma.

At around 12:30 pm, the QCinema luncheon at Long Beach, hosted by Liza Dino and Ed Lejano, brought together the great family of Asian cinema to share moments of fraternal, gastronomic and cinematic conviviality.

At 2.30pm, at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the latest masterpiece from Turkish cinema master Nuri Bilge Ceylan, About Dry Grasses, was screened in competition. This powerful work followed in the footsteps of Erden Kiral's A Season in Hakkari, Eric Rohmer's Ma night at Maud’s, and Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry us, confirming Nuri Bilge Ceylan's undeniable talent, reaching the pinnacle of his art, that of the Nemrut Dag.

At 4pm, the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Meeting was held in the Iranian Independents Riviera stand at the Marché du Film. It brought together a number of members of this international organization present in Cannes, including KIM Dong-ho, co-founder (Korea), Mohammad Atebbai, vice-president (Iran), Ed Lejano vice-president (Philippines), Martine Thérouanne, board member representing Europe (France), and Gulnara Abikeyeva (Kazkahstan).

Saturday May 20, 2023 at 11 a.m. in the Salle Debussy's Un Certain Regard section, Chinese director Wei Shu Jun presents Only The River Flows, his elegantly shot new crime film. His sense of ellipsis lends added force to his subject. His previous film, Ripples of Live, was selected in 2021 for the Directors' Fortnight.

At 12.45pm, at the CNC meeting on the Gray d'Albion beach, Madame Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak outlined the measures taken by her ministry and the CNC to defend cinema as part of the ongoing defense of the French cultural exception. 

The CNC meeting provided an opportunity for the entire profession to meet up again, in particular to review the distributors taking the risk of releasing Asian films in this post-Covid period.

The remainder of the day was devoted to a series of events offering the opportunity to meet key players in the cultural life of cinema in the Near and Far East: at 4pm, the Arab Cinema Center's awards ceremony, organized by critics from the Arab world, Maghreb and Mashreq, at Plage des Goéland; at 7pm, the El Gouna Festival evening, Yalla Boat, Port Pierre Canto; at 8:30pm, Philippine Cinema Night at Ma Nolan's Irish pub; and at 9:30pm, Korean Movie Night, Plage Vegaluna.

On Sunday May 21, 2023 at 11am in the Salle Debussy, Anthony Chen's long-awaited new film, The Breaking Ice, was screened. This magnificent film, which focuses on the Korean minority of Chinese nationality, contains many cultural keys which unfortunately seem to be understood only by connoisseurs of Asia, and are unlikely to be understood by a large proportion of Western audiences. This sensitive and beautiful film shot in North China, close to the North Korean border, by a director from Singapore, is astonishing and deeply moving.

At 1pm, we meet with Chinese documentary filmmaker Jin Huaqing, whose latest film Dark Red Forest has won awards at numerous international festivals. This feature-length documentary is the fruit of four years' patient and lengthy filming. It offers a glimpse into the daily lives of some 20,000 Buddhist nuns living in the Yarchen monastery in the highlands of Tibet. Jin Huaqing is the author of numerous hard-hitting documentaries on life in China. He has won nearly sixty awards at film festivals around the world. He's a director to watch and encourage.

At 4.15pm, in the Salle Debussy, Mongolian director Zoljargal Purevdash's first film, If Only I could hibernate, will be screened, in selection for Un Certain Regard, competing for the Camera d'Or. This refreshingly funny film will delight young and old alike.

The evening will be packed with meetings at AFCAE's Lucky Time and Marché du Film's Fantastic Fanatic Mixer Party, not to mention Diaphana Distribution's meetings, the 15th anniversary party of the Institut Français' Fabrique de Films and the team party for Anthony Chen's The Breaking Ice.

Monday, May 22, 2023 at 11:30 a.m. screening as part of the quinzaine des cinéastes of Blackbird, Blackbird, Blackberry  by Georgia director Elene Naveriani. The film portrays a single woman in the harsh rural Caucasus. 

Then, still at the Quinzaine des cinéastes, the 3:02 long film by the Vietnamese director of Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, a road movie steeped in mysticism and impeccably photographed, which earned its maker the Camera d'Or.

Tuesday May 23, 2023, screening of the Iranian film in selection at Un Certain Regard Terrestrial Verses by Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami, a hard-hitting film recounting nine slices of daily life in Teheran.

On the same day, the Cannes Première screening of Takeshi Kitano's Kubi took place. This costume film depicts the historical incident of Honno-ji, a vassal of Oda Nobunaga, who revolted and drove the famous warlord to commit hara-kiri in Kyoto in 1582.

In the evening, at 8.45pm, the festival directors' dinner took place at the Café des Palmes in the Palais des Festivals, at the invitation of Iris Knobloch, new president of the Cannes Festival, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate. As usual, it provided an opportunity for fruitful exchanges between film festival directors from all over the world (Washington, Melbourne, Toronto, Venice, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Istanbul, Vesoul, etc.), and with the new director of the Cannes Film Market, Guillaume Esmiol.

On Wednesday May 24, 2023, at 11am, Kim Chang-hoon's Korean film Hopeless at Un Certain Regard had the unfortunate taste of déjà vu in Korean cinema. At 6:30pm, at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, Tran Anh Hung's The Pot-au-Feu reconciled Asia and the West through gastronomy. This film can be seen as the Westernized version of A la verticale de l'été. As Tran Anh Hung so aptly and beautifully put it, "Cannes allowed me to make the Vietnamese language, my native tongue, and the French language, my adopted language, heard".

Thursday May 25 at 4pm at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, Wim Wenders, with Perfect Days, demonstrated that a Westerner could be even more Japanese than the Japanese. 

Friday May 26, 2023, 11:30 am, Théâtre Croisette, Quinzaine des cinéastes, Hong Sang-soo, with In Our Days proved once again that he is the most "Rohmerian" of Korean directors.

Also in the Directors' Fortnight, Agra by Indian director Kanu Behl, paints a very neo-realistic picture of Indian society.

Saturday, May 27, 2023, closing ceremony at 8.30pm. Before the Palmarès, the last screenings and at 3:30 pm, the Ecumenical Jury Prize for Perfect Days by Wim Wenders, with Japanese actor Koji Yakusho. 

The Cannes Film Festival is the place to meet or meet again as many personalities as possible in the shortest possible time, in order to build future projects.

NETPAC goes to Danang

System Administrator Saturday July 1, 2023

Da Nang, Vietnam, held its first edition this year, Danang Asian Film Festival (DANAFF) (9 – 13 May, 2023). Finally the legislation in Vietnam was changed at the beginning of 2023 – the new Law on Cinema permits the establishment of festivals such as Danang. And NETPAC was proud to be a supporting organisation. As part of this NETPAC members were invited to submit films for selection. Selected were World War III (Iran) and Muru (from New Zealand). Furthermore the two Presidents were invited, Bina Paul selecting to chair the Netpac jury and Anne Demy- Geroe to present at a half day industry seminar on The Japanese Experience, comprised of prominent Vietnamese and Japanese industry figures and chaired by Philip Cheah. 

NETPAC Co-Presidents Bina Paul and Anne Demy-Geroe at Danang Asian Film Festival (DANAFF) (9 – 13 May, 2023)
NETPAC Co-Presidents Bina Paul and Anne Demy-Geroe at Danang Asian Film Festival (DANAFF) (9 – 13 May, 2023)

The festival’s goals are to encourage new Vietnamese and Asian cinema talents through two competitive sections, Asian Film Awards and Vietnam Film Awards. Over these two sections winners in 2023 included documentary Children of the Mist by Vietnamese director Ha Le Diem for best film; Kavich Neang from Cambodia for best director for While Building, Saim Sadiq and Maggie Briggs from Pakistan for best screenplay for Joyland. Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling was named best actress for her role in the Vietnamese drama Glorious Ashes. The NETPAC Award for Best Vietnamese Film went to Memento Mori: Earth directed by Marcus Mang Cuong VU.

Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling in Glorious Ashes directed by Bui Thac Chuyen
Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling in Glorious Ashes directed by Bui Thac Chuyen

Mohsen Tanabandeh with his best actor award and the special jury award for the film, “World War III” at DANAFF in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang. Directed by Hooman Seyyedi, the film was Iran’s submission to the 2023 Oscars. Danang was almost a repeat of Venice -Tanabandeh had already been honoured with the Orizzonti Award for best actor at the 79th Venice International Film Festival and “World War III” had won the Orizzonti Award for best film.

However there was perhaps a particular resonance in the Danang win. The film is about Shakib, a homeless day laborer who has never recovered from the loss of his wife and son in an earthquake years ago. He works on a construction site which is to become the set for a film about the atrocities committed by Hitler during WWII and he himself will have a role. Danang was where, at 9.03am on 8 March 1965, 3,500 US marines disembarked from their landing crafts and waded on to Vietnam's shores, becoming the first American ground troops to arrive in the country for what the Vietnamese call the American War.

Mohsen Tanabandeh in World War III directed by Houman Seyyedi
Mohsen Tanabandeh in World War III directed by Houman Seyyedi
Memento Mori: Earth directed by Marcus Mang Cuong VU.
Memento Mori: Earth directed by Marcus Mang Cuong VU.














Bina Paul: I Am An Argumentative Editor

System Administrator Thursday March 23, 2023
Well, I think the starting point of one of the early films I did was a very important cult film, which you can find on the internet now, called “Amma Ariyan” by John Abraham. Two or three things about that film. One is, of course, it's 35 years old now, but it's one of the most revered films in India. Secondly, the process of making, actually we formed a collective, we collected money.

Supriya Suri's Interview with Muhiddin Muzaffar (Director of the NETPAC Award winning movie Dov)

System Administrator Wednesday May 4, 2022

How did you get into filmmaking? Please tell us something about yourself and your background. 

I entered the cinema through the theatre. I was an actor in our local theatre called Kanibadam, named after Tuhfa Fozilova. After working for five years, I decided to do a theatre director course. I graduated with honors and became a director. We successfully staged performances at international festivals. 

I once calculated how much time and effort we spend on preparing for a performance (4-5 months of rehearsals), and how many viewers we will have (maximum 3000). On balance, the first outweighed the second. I wanted to attract more viewers, and cinema was more suitable for this purpose. That's why I started making my films about ordinary people, their problems, moral dilemmas, and about human values. I initiated the opening of my film studio in the Sughd Region with state support. I shot ten films in ten years, mostly full-length feature films, but also some documentaries, a short film and even a TV series. Thereafter, I did the higher course in direction at All-Russian State University of Cinematography named after S. A. Gerasimov (a.k.a. VGIK). Our film Fortune is my thesis. Usually, for a student, a thesis is his first film. Even though I've made 10 films so far, I still feel like a student. Because after studying, I understood a lot, set the high bar for myself and began to create my best film to date - Fortune.

Muhiddin Muzaffar
Muhiddin Muzaffar


Fortune seems a rather difficult film as a first feature since it is set in historical context. How did you choose the subject? 

I already had my own small team of people who went through fire and water with me. We have developed our own thinking and we understand each other completely. I had experience behind me, so I boldly began to realize my old dream - to show the world of my childhood. For me, this is a very personal film. The story of my family was the inspiration for this film. That little boy who rides on the back of the old man is essentially me. 

How long did you take to write the screenplay? Tell us about your writing process.

My faithful co-author of the script, Bakhtiyor Karimov, and I have been writing and finalizing the script for two years.

As a director, whom did you take inspiration from for this film? 

We took inspiration from the works of the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore -  The Legend of 1900 and Cinema Paradiso. We loved the mise-en-scene, the acting, the drama of the male characters and the atmosphere of sad but good nostalgia in his films.

What was your process of conceptualising your shots, mood, overall feel and vision? Do share your journey as a director. How did you work with the actors and cinematographers and how long did you spend on pre-production?

When we began filming, we did not have most of the promised money in hand. But we turned a blind eye to everything and started filming, getting into debt (which we still have to pay off)! We found a town where all the young people had left to work in other countries. Only the old people remained. Much has been preserved in the town from the earlier times: tablets, signs, a post office building, an old factory nearby, a railway and abandoned houses. It was the perfect place to create the atmosphere we needed. Also, some very kind local people helped us in everything, even played as extras (later we arranged a special show for them). Difficulties arose regarding the search for old cars, but even here they offered help. It turned out that old cars were perfectly preserved here. We bought a brand new Moskvich from a local collector, looked for costumes and props, consulted the older generation, borrowed photographs from albums. 

A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)
A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)


Which camera is the film shot on? 

We decided to shoot such an ambitious film on ARRI. In the studio "Tajikfilm" there was such a camera, but another director was using it.  And we have already begun our work. We rented another ARRI camera and started filming with it. Then we received a camera from "Tajikfilm". 

What were the challenges you faced while shooting the film? 

The biggest problem was casting. We travelled to all the theaters in the country, trying to find new talent. The fate of an actor is unenviable in our country. Few films are being made. There remains the theatre, which almost no one goes to. I have worked in the theatre and I know every professional actor in the country. Almost all of them have acted in my films. In this case, it so happened that after we had approved an actor for the role, he told us that he had been offered another role abroad, with a good fee. Two actors died after their roles were confirmed. We decided to smooth out all the shortcomings, using the actors’ potential to the maximum. One of the lead actors broke his nose on the tracks, but he was still happy that we filmed such a difficult scene. Poor actors...

What was the crew size? 

We have a small team  of less than ten people, everyone has to deal with several tasks at once. 

You were the director as well as the producer for the film. How did you manage both tasks? 

Since I am the head of a state-owned film company, during filming I can be asked to attend meetings or write reports. I look for sponsors for our projects myself, I convince the owner of the house where we were allowed to shoot that we would return the house to him safe and sound, I go to another city to pick up the actors; along the way I buy food for the crew, and I also have to see where I can find military men with real automatic firearms. I request my acquaintances to lend me money for a while to cover expenses.  As you know, such multitasking is not good for creativity. This is the case with all members of the film crew. Each person does the work of two and receives a small salary. Those who felt it was not profitable for them, left. Only the enthusiastic ones remained. That's how we live. But no one loses heart, everyone believes that he is doing something important, believes he is contributing to the development of culture.

A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)
A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)


How did you go about raising finance for this film? What was your budget? And how do you plan to recover the money?  Will this film be released in theatres or on OTT in your country? 

For me, Fortune was an important statement. I am interested in the topic of lost generations, of people who cannot realize their potential owing to circumstances beyond their control. I consider this to be a great tragedy in a person's life. Our film talks about such people and about how not to repeat this. There were few viewers in Tajikistan. We barely paid back the invested funds and are now gradually paying back our debts. We want to find a suitable streaming service and make new films with the money we earn. We priced such a complex and costly project at $100,000. Now imagine what we could do if we had a million. Tajikistan is an amazing country with fantastic landscapes, mountains, steppes, deserts, springs, mountain villages, ruins of ancient cities, abandoned industrial towns, colourful people and a rich history. Our task is to inform the world about all this.

Can you tell us little bit about the situation of cinema in your country? 

In Soviet times, cinema and theatre were well developed in Tajikistan, and people often visited them. But then the Soviet Union collapsed and a civil war began. There followed a period of restoration. That's why people were not up to it. Now things are calm, life has begun to improve. But over these 30 years, the culture of going to the cinema and theatre has disappeared. Young people watch Netflix on their smartphones, while older people buy pirated DVDs (which may include eight or more films) for a couple of cents at the local bazaar. In other words, the older people do not care about the quality of the film. They just want them cheap.

What is your next project about? 

The success of Fortune helped the team to become more self-confident, and attracted aspiring directors and screenwriters to the company. We are already seeing their first steps in the cinema. I managed to write two scripts during post-production and now I'm working on them. They will also be about ordinary people who are looking for their place in this world.

How does it feel after winning the NETPAC award at the festival?

The NETPAC Festival is the sixth festival where our film has been shown and the first where we have won. I won't forget that feeling when I sat next to award nominees who had a film budget of millions of dollars, when we had only $100,000. Someone had a premiere in Cannes, someone was on the Oscar shortlist. And here I am, sitting with wonderful directors in the same row ... For me, this was already an award, and the victory in the nomination was a complete surprise for me. When I got on stage, I couldn't find the words, so I just thanked everyone.

We participated in three festivals in different states of India (there are several more to come), and in each we were warmly welcomed and supported. We want to thank all the organizers for the opportunity to show our work in a country with a rich cinema history, and for the high appreciation of our film. We believe that everyone who watches the film will like it and that everyone will find an echo of their story there.

A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)
A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)


Edited by Dr. Latika Padgaonkar





NETPAC strongly condemns the war that the Russian State has launched against the people of Ukraine

System Administrator Monday March 7, 2022
NETPAC strongly condemns the war that the Russian State has launched against the people of Ukraine. As a film community we believe and support communication through art and ideas. Blood and violence never yield results. We support independent persons in  the Russian Cinema community who are raising  their voices against this aggression. 


Supriya Suri's Interview with Muhiddin Muzaffar

Director Muhiddin Muzaffar (1) 2 Min

1. I entered the cinema through the theatre. I was an actor in our local theatre called Kanibadam, named after Tuhfa Fozilova. After working for five years, I decided to do a theatre director course. I graduated with honors and became a director. We successfully staged performances at international festivals.


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