Art and Experience: Teresa Cavina, born in 1958, the Italian festival programmer and an expert in script evaluation, who has worked as a programmer of Locarno, Venice and Roma International film festivals is now in the 34th Fajr International Film festival as a member of the Jury for the Panorama of Films from Asian and Islamic Countries (Eastern Vista). The public relations of the 34th FIFF has an interview with her and asked about her view on the Asian cinema and Iran’s in particular.
As a jury member, how do you evaluate the festival so far?
Well, I just started yesterday. We have watched 5 movies so far, two films yesterday and three for today. So, we can’t say much as of now. I can say when you are a member of a jury, you are not looking for the best movie in the world. In fact in every film festivals, movies are competing against each other, therefore only at the end of competition it turns out which one would be the best.
Was there any Iranian movie among the ones you’ve seen so far?
No, nothing yet. The movies I’ve watched was from Kazakhstan, China and Taiwan.
Considering your resume, we know that you are familiar with the Asian cinema and their culture, what can you tell us about the cinema of that area, especially Iran?
I am a festival programmer, so I’m very familiar with Asian cinema and Iranian Cinema in particular. I’ve watched a lot of Iranian films before, but I have never got to judge an Iranian film as a Jury member. I have been the director of programing in Budapest International Film Festival for seven years and I also had the same position for Locarno, Venice and Roma film festivals.
The first person who actually introduced me to the Iranian Cinema was Amir Esfandiari, almost seventeen years ago and then he invited me to several annuals of Fajr film festival. We met in Cannes, I was the programmer for Locarno film festival in that time, he brought me 2 or 3 Iranian movie tapes, as you know movies was available in VHS at that time. And when Fajr started to present information in multi-linguistic program, I started to come here to Tehran and I was very grateful for that, and it was like a door from Iranian Cinema opened for me. Another person who introduced Iranian cinema to me was Katayoun Shahabi. She’s really active in terms of promoting the Iranian Cinema to the world.
Nowadays introducing and advertising the Iranian Cinema to the world is much easier, because of social networks and the media improvements. You are pursuing Iranian Cinema, what is your idea about the current Iranian cinema comparing with the past?
. I think this is a very easy question to answer. Comparing those areas does not make sense. There are good films and bad films and that’s it. A good film speaks for itself and a bad film doesn’t communicate with audiences. Any film could be made for commercial purposes or in an artistic way. You can stick those kind of label to them, but finally a good film, no matter what kind of purposes or massages that is trying to convey, as I said speaks to the audiences.
When I’m saying a movie is good, it means that there are some invention styles, some creativity. Let’s take the cinema as everybody knows it, like American franchises. When people are confronting this kind of cinema for the first time and when they watch the first part, they are attracted to it because there is something new about these films. And then when they watch the second, the third, the fourth or the fifth sequel, it is getting boring for them, because it is following the same structure and the same module.
We can take Asghar Farhadi as an example, his movies are very intellectual and there are different layers in his movies. You can stay in the surface and enjoy just what’s happening or you can go deep inside and there are so much sophisticated stuffs that you can find out. Coming to FAJR festival before, I’ve watched many good films, even including some social comedies that all set in Iran and in a way all of them are significant movies.
Regarding Asghar Farhadi movies, I can say he is very successful because he knows how to make better social dramas and maybe even comedies. He shows lot of social problems such as temporary marriage, divorcing and then children problems. Things which you always can see in Iranian movies, and it seems probably the film maker was considering the movie for local audiences. But from an international point of view, Kiarostami movies have been more succesful, because they are more philosophical. But now it’s like people know more about Iran and therefore Asghar Farhadi’s social dramas can be better understood. Maybe nowadays a social drama set in Iran that was made fifteen years ago is easy to access for international audiences.
But you know that there is a severe international media-hype around Iran that is not very realistic. Don’t you believe it effects International perspective of view about Iran?
Well, you forget that there is so many Iranian people living outside Iran and they are good messengers for Iranian culture, so my answer to that question is no. I believe that they are very cultivated people. Iranian people has an international reputation of being cultivated and very sophisticated people. In the other side of the Persian Gulf, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I’ve seen films from Contemporary Iranian film makers that also was screened in London and Paris. So there are lots of respect for Iranian culture and artists since a long time ago. Before I started to get to know Iran, I always considered Iran as a part of the international community. A nation full of culture and history. I did my study at the University of Venice and there were a lot of Iranian people studding architecture there, and not only there but everywhere, like Iranian community in United States, Iranian are represented cultivated people as well. And as Iran is opening the door to the world, its reputation is getting bigger and bigger and the rest of the world is ready to get involved more with Iran and its culture. In my country, when I told other people that I’m going to participate in an Iranian Cinema festival, everyone was envying me and they wish they had the chance.