Danish Filmfest. organizers elaborate on Iran-Denmark cultural coop.
Art and Experience: The Danish Film Festival wrapped up on Saturday night. Running from May 1st to May 4th, the event was held in collaboration between Denmark’s Embassy in Iran and the Iranian Youth Cinema Society (IYCS)- an educational film organization and the major supporter of short films and young filmmakers in Iran which is affiliated to Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
A number of thought-provoking Danish movies were screened in theaters in Tehran, Kashan, Yazd, Isfahan and Shiraz through the event.
To get a clear overview of the cultural cooperation between the two sides, Mehr new agency conducted an interview with the Danish Ambassador to Tehran Danny Annan, Danish Deputy Head of Mission Malte Möller-Christensen, and the Director of International Affairs of IYCS Mohammad Fahimi.
The following is the complete transcript of the interview:
How did you decide to run such a program? Where did the idea come from?
Ambassador Annan: We found quite an interest in Danish movies in various film festivals around the world so we decided to find an Iranian partner. The Iranian Youth Cinema Society was a very good option for our cooperation since they have a regional reach not only in showing the films here in Tehran but also in Isfahan, Kashan, Yazd and Shiraz. We approached them and found it a good opportunity for us to cooperate.
Deputy Möller-Christensen: As the Danish Embassy in Tehran we are not experts in cinema but we have an important role to play in bringing together both experts and the general audience in both countries and to facilitate people to people contact and exchange.
Ambassador Annan: First of all, we focused on general Iranian audiences, and not only the artists circles. We posted the event on social media both in Farsi and in English to get access to the audience. Our Iranian partner organization sent the posters to Iranian universities to find addressees among students there. The audience could have free access to the screenings. They needed no reservations of tickets. People just had to show up.
What criteria were considered in choosing the films?
Ambassador Annan: Our ambition was to show a wide variety of Danish movies in the event: feature films, documentaries, short films and also children movies dubbed into Farsi. The films had both Farsi and English subtitles. We tried to have a broad scope, in fact. Of course, we had to choose the movies that could be screened in Iran but in fact, there are many similarities between Danish filmmaking and Iranian filmmaking in the way they address the social topics.
Advertising the event was mainly done by the Iranian Youth Film society.
Intl. Affairs Director Mr. Fahimi: It was a mutual effort. There was a cooperation between the Danish embassy and our institute but since there were some cultural considerations, we had to do the final selection in terms of cultural appropriateness. The first criteria to us was the quality of the films, they needed to have artistic value. The selected films were artistically valuable ones. We also tried to have a combination of genres; documentary, drama, animation. The target audience also varies from children to young adults and adults. It also included a wide range of tastes from artistic ones, those different from the business cinema of the Hollywood, some of them were much better if you just ask me. Some others were very good documentaries. Actually, the audience could enjoy them artistically and thematically.
Iranian film fans are familiar with some Danish filmmakers and their works. What is the status of Iranian Cinema in Denmark? Is a similar program going to be run in Denmark?
Ambassador Annan: There was a film festival in Copenhagen in 2016, which focused on Iranian movies from back 1960s to 1990s. Asghar Farhadi’ Oscar winner movie has drawn a lot of attention. They have shown ‘Separation’ on Denmark’s television. Danish film-lovers are not unfamiliar with Iranian movies, in fact. But I think that would be interesting if the Iranian embassy in Copenhagen could do a similar initiative there in cooperation with a Danish film institute to run an Iranian film festival in Denmark. Also, recently on February 19, 2019, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, there was a nice film festival in a cinema in Copenhagen.
Intl. Affairs Director Mr. Fahimi: That is something that we look forward to. There is the will from both sides for such an event to take place.
Fajr Film Festival just ended. Did any films from Denmark participated this year or previous years?
Ambassador Annan: Yes. We had two movies in Fajr festival this year (“The Guilty” and “Before the Frost”).
At Fajr festival, we had also Danish theatre groups and musical ensembles in Tehran. In cooperation with Iranian theaters they had some seminars and workshops. I do believe that the Fajr Festival is a very good opportunity for cultural exchange not only between Denmark and Iran but also among other countries participating in the festival.
Deputy Möller-Christensen: From our perspective, Fajr Festival is a very big success here in Tehran.
Has the Iranian Youth Cinema Society done similar cooperation with other embassies in Iran or not?
Intl. Affairs Director Mr. Fahimi: We have done a quite number of similar cooperation with other embassies in Iran but I cannot put my finger on any of them, now. The recent one, I suppose was either Finland or Spain. They have been successful events. The turnout was actually considerable. The audience liked it. The feedback was great. That encouraged us to do similar events. And we are very glad that we have done this event with Denmark. The cooperation of the cultural department of the embassy was great. We are very happy that we are the first institute in Iran which has run a Danish event in Iran.
Is this the first time that you are screening movies in cities other that Tehran?
Intl. Affairs Director Mr. Fahimi: It is the first time that we are screening movies in several cities across Iran simultaneously. We did something before in Tehran and later the same in Tabriz and Kashan, for example. But this is the first time we are doing it at the same time. The good news is that except from Kashan, Shiraz, Yazd and Isfahan, there were some other cities which had applied to host the event. But because it was the first time, we though doing it at large scale, we might not be able to handle it. We then decided to postpone doing same events in a larger scale. Of course, we have done something similar but not with embassies.
How was the festival funded?
Intl. Affairs Director Mr. Fahimi: We tried to run on a low budget, and there were somethings we took care of for example editing the films but actually the main funder of the event was the Danish embassy.
By: Haniyeh Sadat Jafariyeh