Los Angeles, home to the largest Iranian community in the world outside of Iran itself, has evolved into a central showcase for that country’s arts and culture community, especially Tehran’s vibrant filmmaking scene.
A recurring event on the calendar, the 8th annual Iranian Short Film Festival, sponsored by the Farhang Foundation, culminated this past weekend with a screening of the six finalists, out of 180 entries, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater.
Winners of the top three awards along with accompanying cash prizes were then announced to an appreciative sold-out audience.
The top award went to Fan, directed by Ali Delkari, who also received a $10,000 prize. The moving short, about maternal love, shows an old woman who is bustling about trying to fix her ruined tv antenna.
In the nick of time, reception is restored just before the national soccer championship game is about to start. Her urgency it turns out is not about her own interest in the game but about making it possible for her completely paralyzed son, the “fan”, to watch.
Award-winning film and television actress Gohar Kheirandish flew in from Tehran to present the award. Filmmaker Delkari appeared on video from Iran’s capital to accept the prize.
Kheirandish spoke movingly about the power of artistic exchanges to promote understanding and peace in the world.
Second prize went to The Last Tar directed by Yashin Nahani, who received a $5,000 cash award.
The charmingly animated short is set centuries ago and tells the story of an elderly man, lovingly making by hand a tar, the oldest Persian stringed instrument, and then playing it.
Another animated short, From the Eastern Lands, took third prize. It is a period love story enhanced by its expressive musical score. Director Sarah Tabibzadeh received a $3,000 cash award.
The Farhang Foundation, sponsor of the short-film competition, is a non-profit organization dedicated to exhibiting and promoting Iranian culture in Los Angeles to a wider audience.
The non-religious, non-political organization, Farhang focuses its efforts on the exploration and cultivation of works by upcoming Iranian artists worldwide.
It has provided $120,000 in cash prizes since the festival and competition began in 2008. Earlier this year it was again a sponsor of UCLA’s annual festival of contemporary Iranian cinema, now in its 20th year.