Art and Experience: The 36th Fajr Film Festival opened at Tehran’s Milad Tower on Thursday with honoring cineastes Mohammad-Ali Najafi, Manuchehr Esmaeili and Akbar Abdi, and a tribute to the late producer, Ali Moallem.

Moallem’s widow, Azar Memarian, and his two sons, Iman and Omid, were called on stage to receive an award presented by Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Abbas Salehi.

Omid talked of his grief over the death of his father who died of a heart attack in March 2017.

“I always remember him saying we must continue his way. And now I am happy to see the cineastes united to this extent and that no one can divide them,” Omid said.

For his part, the minister expressed his happiness over the celebration of Iranian cinema that is organized every year to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

“I express my congratulations to the noble family of cinema. Iranian cinema has had dynamic participation in international events over the past 40 years and has turned out to be the art and cultural ambassador of the country,” the minister said.

The ceremony was followed by honoring director Najafi.

In his acceptance speech, Najafi said that 47 years ago where one could hardly talk about cinema in religious gatherings, he pursued cinema and theater seriously.

Esmaeili said, “Tonight, you responded to the hello I said to you in all the films that I worked as a dubber.”

Esmaeili received his award from his colleague Abolhassan Tahaminejd and actor Saeid Raad.

“In those years when I was younger and the films were dubbed in studios, I used to become so excited when I heard that Esmaili was going to lend his voice to my characters in the films,” Raad said.

He asked the audience to stand and applaud for one minute in honor of Esmaeili.

Actor Akbar Abdi was the last to be honored with the lifetime achievement award presented by director Rasul Sadr-Ameli and several other cineastes.

Sadr-Ameli called Abdi a genius in acting and added, “He has not been a mere actor all these years. He has been a phenomenon. He made us believe in his roles and we have no other way but to love him. He is a national asset.”

Abdi also in his words expressed his thanks to his mother and his wife.

“I might not live for long. I thank God who gave me dignity. Esmaieli has been able to fill in the image with his voice in cinema. He lent his voice to my role in ‘Mother’. He made me appear to be more than twice as much as I really was in the film with his voice. He is one of the most precious assets in Iranian cinema,” Abdi said.

He also expressed thanks to people who would go and watch films and somehow pay the cineastes. “I wish your pockets would always be full of money,” he prayed.

The 36th Fajr Film Festival will be running in Tehran until February 11.

Source: Tehran Times