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First Iranian film festival in Maine to be hosted by USM Honors program as part of year-long Gloria S. Duclos Convocation

Women Without Men movie poster

Students from the University of Southern Maine’s Honors program “Cinema in Iran” course, along with their instructor, professor Reza Jalali, will present the 2017 Iranian Film Festival—a first of its kind in Maine—in Portland beginning on October 20.

Ten feature films made by Iranian directors, including women, will be screened at the University of Southern Maine’s Wishcamper Center on Friday evenings between October 20 and November 17, with the exception of the November 10 screenings, which till take place at Maine College of Art. Each evening will feature screenings of two different films—one at 5:30pm and one at 5:45pm. The screenings are free and open to the public. Post-screening discussions and Q&A sessions will be facilitated by USM students and Professor Jalali.

“Contemporary Iranian films have won the hearts of many film buffs in the U.S. for their powerful social and political examination of the post-Islamic Revolution Iranian society,” Professor Jalali said. “Iranian cinema, in the absence of a free press in Iran, has come to provide social critique of a society torn between modernity and tradition, and secular and religious thoughts and values. The festival will present the community with a rare opportunity to learn about a nation, with the help of its cinema, which has been dehumanized in the U.S. since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.”

As part of USM’s year-long Gloria S. Duclos Convocation on the theme of “Race and Participatory Democracy,” the film festival is intended to encourage respectful and inclusive community conversations on the critical and timely issue of the intersectionality of race and democracy.

“Cinema can help us to see the humanity in those we presume to be our enemies,” Jalali said.

Sponsored by USM Convocation, the festival’s co-sponsors include the USM Honors Program, the USM Women and Gender Studies program, the Honors Student Organization at USM and Maine College of Art.

Learn more about the 2017 Iranian Film Festival here.

2017 Iranian Film Festival schedule:

All screenings are free and open to the public.

October 20, USM Portland campus

Women Without Men movie poster5:30pm—“Women Without Men” directed by Shirin Neshat, Wishcamper 133

Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d'état, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard garden, where they find independence, solace and companionship.

5:45pm—“The Circle” directed by Jafar Panahi, Wishcamper 211

Various women struggle to function in the oppressively sexist society of contemporary Iran.

October 27, USM Portland campus

5:30pm—“About Elly” directed by Asghar Farhadi, Wishcamper 133

The mysterious disappearance of a kindergarten teacher during a picnic in the north of Iran is followed by a series of misadventures for her fellow travelers.

5:45pm—“Ten” directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Wishcamper 211

A visual social examination in the form of ten conversations between a driving woman and her various pick-ups and hitchhikers.

November 3, USM Portland campus

5:30pm—“The Hidden Half” directed by Tahmineh Milani, Wishcamper 133

An official is sent from his home in Tehran to hear the final appeal of a woman sentenced to death, a political prisoner. The official's wife of nearly 20 years, Fereshteh Samimi, writes him a letter to read when he reaches the hotel - the story of her student days during the revolution of 1978. As she tells her husband about the hidden half of her life, Fereshteh asks that he listen to the woman facing execution, a woman and therefore one of Iran's hidden half.

5:45pm—“The Music Man (Santouri)” directed by Dariush Mehrjui, Wishcamper 211Not being able to work because of the religious country's prejudice against music, a talented Santour player has to deal with poverty, addiction and the absence of his ex-wife.

November 10, Maine College of Art

No One Knows About Persian Cats movie poster5:30pm—“No One Knows About Persian Cats” directed by Bahman Ghobadi, Maine College of Art

Iranian musicians Negar and Ashkan look for band members to play at a London concert - and the visas that allow them to leave Tehran to do so.

5:45pm—“A Moment of Innocence” directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Maine College of Art

A semi-autobiographical account of Makmahlbaf's experience as a teenager when, as a 17-year-old, he stabbed a policeman at a protest rally. Two decades later, he tracks down the policeman he injured in an attempt to make amends.

November 17, USM Portland campus

5:30pm—“The Song of Sparrows” directed by Majid Majidi, Wishcamper 133

When an ostrich-rancher focuses on replacing his daughter's hearing aid, which breaks right before crucial exams, everything changes for a struggling rural family in Iran. Karim motorbikes into a world alien to him - incredibly hectic Tehran, where sudden opportunities for independence, thrill and challenge him. But his honor and honesty, plus traditional authority over his inventive clan, are tested, as he stumbles among vast cultural and economic gaps between his village nestled in the desert, and a throbbing international metropolis.

5:45pm—“Marooned in Iraq” directed by Bahman Ghobadi, Wishcamper 211

During the war between Iran and Iraq, a group of Iranian Kurd musicians set off on an almost impossible mission. They will try to find Hanareh, a singer with a magic voice who crossed the border and may now be in danger in the Iraqi Kurdistan. As in his previous films, this Kurdish director is again focusing on the oppression of his people.

View more information on USM's Honors program here.

View more information on the year-long Gloria S. Duclos Convocation here.