Art and Experience:

The 2021 Fajr International Film Festival has announced the names of 15 movies that are participating in the International Competition section.

According to the Secretariat of the annual event, the documentary films are as followed:

Brother’s Keeper (Turkey)

Director: Ferit Karahan

Cast: Samet Yıldız, Ekin Koç, Mahir Ipek, Melih Selçuk, Cansu Fırıncı, Nurullah Alaca

Synopsis

Strict rules prevail at a remote boarding school in the mountains of Anatolia where Turkish teachers educate gifted Kurdish pupils from the surrounding area. Once a week, the boys are allowed to shower and, like everything else here, the process is monitored. One night, twelve-year-old Memo asks his friend Yusuf if he can sleep in his bed. But, afraid of gossip, Yusuf refuses. The next morning, Memo is sick and cannot attend class. The school’s heating has broken down and the icy winter’s day takes its course. Memo’s condition worsens. He is no longer responsive and Yusuf is only allowed to talk when prompted. Gradually, the events of the previous night are revealed. Ferit Karahan’s finely spun drama illuminates a microcosm marked by poverty and fear. Surrounded by snow and frost, the emotional coldness which prevails between teachers and pupils in this authoritarian educational institution becomes almost physically tangible.

Magic Mountains (The Netherlands)

Director: Urszula Antoniak

Cast: Hannah Hoekstra, Thomas Ryckewaert, Marcin Dorocicski

Synopsis

Lex (Thomas Ryckewaert), a Dutch writer of popular novels, has money and fame but no peace of mind since Hannah (Hannah Hoekstra) left him years ago. Lex wants to end the relationship in a symbolic gesture and asks her to go with him to the mountains for a last climb together. Voytek (Marcin Dorocinski) a professional mountain guide, is hired to take the two to the remote starting point and leave them there. But Voytek senses that Lex is unstable and refuses to leave Hannah alone with him.

The Pass (Japan)

Director: Takashi Koizumi

Synopsis

A beautiful samurai film from Takashi Koizumi (Assistant to Akira Kurosawa, “After the Rain”) about a samurai who leads his country to fight against the new regime with honor and dignity.

Should the Wind Drop (Armenia)

Director: Nora Martirosyan

Cast: Gégoire Colin, Hayk Bakhryan, Arman Navasardyan, David Hakobyan, Vartan Petrossian, Narine Grigoryan

Synopsis

Frenchman Alain, an international auditor, has come to assess the airport in a self-proclaimed republic in the Caucasus, with a view to approving its reopening. Edgar, a local boy, wanders around the airport, involved in a strange trade. The man and the child end up meeting one another.

Human Factors (Germany)

Director: Ronny Trocker

Cast: Mark Waschke, Sabine Timoteo, Jule Hermann, Wanja Valentin Kube, Hassan Akkouch, Isaak Dentler,Daniel Séjourné, Hannes Perkmann, Marie Rosa Tietjen, Steve Driesen

Synopsis

Jan and Nina travel with their two children to their weekend home on the Belgian coast to find some peace and quiet. But this is ruined by a mysterious break-in when the family arrives. Afterwards, Nina has a bloody nose and Zorro, their son Max’s pet rat, has disappeared. What happened? None of them is able to give the police a clear description of the intruders. Back in Germany, the successful advertising agency that this bilingual couple runs together becomes the target of a paint bomb attack. Jan had previously made the single-handed decision to take on the election campaign for a political party with populist tendencies – a move that goes against everything Nina holds dear.

Helene (Finland)

Director: Antti J. Jokinen

Cast: Laura Birn, Johannes Holopainen, Pirkko Saisio, Krista Kosonen, Eero Aho, Jarkko Lahti

Synopsis

Year 1915. Helene Schjerfbeck is a forgotten artist living in the countryside with her elderly mother. Years have passed since her last exhibition, and Helene has continued to paint only for her own passion. Everything changes when an art dealer discovers Helene and her 159 amazing paintings and wants to organize a large solo exhibition. However, the most important moment in Helene’s life is brought on by her encounter with amateur painter Einar Reuter, who is a passionate admirer of Helene’s art. He becomes Helene’s confidante and the unfulfilled love of her life. Inspired by true events, HELENE describes the life of Finland’s most acclaimed painter Helene Schjerfbeck between 1915-1923.

Natural Light (Hungary)

Director: Denis Nagy

Cast: Ferenc Szabó Tamás, Garbacz László, Bajkó Gyula, Franczia Ern, Stuhl Gyula, Szilágy Mareks, Lapeskis Krisztián, Kozó József Barta, Aivars Kuzmins, Liene Kislicka

Synopsis

World War II, occupied Soviet Union. István Semetka is a Hungarian farmer who serves as a Caporal in a special unit scouting for partisan groups. On their way to a remote village, his company is caught in enemy fire. As the commander is killed, Semetka has to overcome his fears and take command of the unit as he is dragged into a chaos that he cannot control.

We Are Here, We Are Close (Ukraine)

Director: Roman Balayan

Cast: Akhtem Seitablayev, Kateryna Molchanova, Vladlen, Odudenko, Olesya Ostrovska, Serhiy Trymbach

Synopsis

A surgeon, who lost his godson in the operating room, quits his job and starts helping a strange girl whose past is shrouded in mystery.

Miracle (South Korea)

Director: Byung-Hun Min

Cast: Seo Jang-Won, Park Ji-Yeon

Synopsis

Jangwon is declared bankrupt after he is made a victim of fraud by friend Minkyo. While desperately searching for Minkyo who disappeared, Jangwon hears that another old school friend, Jiyeon, is also looking for him. Jangwon approaches her as he thinks it would make the search for Minkyo easier.

Deadlock (Slovenia)

Director: Vinko Möderndorfer

Cast: Mirjam Korbar Zlajpah, Peter Musevski Uro, Fürst Barbara, Cerar Klemen, Kovacic Mila, Fürst Ivo Ban, Benjamin Krnetic, Branko Zavrsan

Synopsis

An encounter of two married couples from two opposite social classes that seem to have nothing in common. However, an accident and a tragic event bring these people together fatefully in a single night and most likely until the rest of their lives.

The Island of Lies (Spain)

Director: Paula Cons

Cast: Nerea Barros, DarIo Grandinetti, Aitor Luna

Synopsis

In 1921, the steamboat Santa Isabel was carrying 260 Spanish emigrants to America, when it sank just off the island of Salvora in Galicia, Spain. Only three women from the island came to help and managed to rescue 50 of the passengers. While the women are lauded as heroines, the suspicion that the accident was provoked starts to spread like wildfire. The main instigator of the rumor is an Argentinean journalist, who arrives on the island to cover the story. As the journalist continues to make headway in his investigation, the pressure on the three women increases. There are many unanswered questions and as the truth slowly begins to filter out, the heroines will start to lose their innocence and traditional life on the island will be changed forever.

Social Hygiene (Canada)

Director: Denis Côté

Cast: Maxim Gaudette, Larissa Corriveau, Eve Duranceau, Kathleen Fortin, Evelyne Rompré, Eléonore Loiselle

Synopsis

Hedonistic philosopher-cum-delinquent, Antonin always finds the right word to win himself both the compliments and the rebukes of his fellows. A married man, Antonin never misses a chance to exploit both the goodness and the patience of his wife, Églantine. He is also a constant source of disappointment to his sister, Solveig. Busy trying to avoid Rose, the tax collector who is after his neck, Antonin cannot get his attraction and desire for the beautiful Cassiopée out of his skull. Tormented, Antonin must now devise the right scheme and the right words to apologize to Aurore, one of his victims. Between these five women, Antonin gets stuck.

Lady of the City (Iran)

Director: Maryam Bahrololumi

Cast: Fereshteh Sadrorafaei, Behnaz Jafari, Gelareh Abbasi, Saman Saffari, Mohammad Valizadegan, Ali Kianersi, Behrang Alavi, Yousef Teymouri, Tarannom Kazemi, Mahlagha Bagheri

Synopsis

Shahrbanoo (“Lady of the City” in Persian language) is a mother of three, who has been sentenced to life in prison for being a drug mule. After eleven years in jail, she is released from prison for a few days to attend her son’s wedding. The temporary freedom helps her see a new aspect of her life and that of her family before returning to prison.

Gisoum (Iran)

Director: Navid Behtoei

Cast: Pegah Ahangarani, Hossein Soufian, Maral Bani Adam, Reza Davoodnejad, Shahrokh Foroutanian, Shabnam Goodarzi, Salman Farkhondeh

Synopsis

After her mother’s death, a young woman finds out that her father is still alive. In curiosity, she returns from France to Iran in order to search for him after 30 years. Along with her husband and a bunch of old friends, desperately seeking an unseen father, she travels to the northern coasts of Iran. Gradually, throughout the journey, her secrets unfold to others.

Major (Iran)

Director: Ehsan Abdipour

Cast: Hamid Farokhnejad, Arash Maleki, Akbar Odood, Forough Ghajabagli, Iraj Saghiri

Synopsis

A tracker dog slips into the waterfront of a customs office and chaos sets in.

The 2021 FIFF is scheduled to get underway in the Iranian capital on May 26-June 2. This year’s event is presided over by Iranian film director and screenwriter Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpour. The festival is widely considered one of the most prestigious and influential in Asia, Europe and Greater Middle East.