Film News: The 1st IRANIAN FILM FESTIVAL NEW YORK announces Jury & Audience Awards at Closing Night Ceremony!

6-Day Festival dazzles NY audiences with daily sold out screenings at the IFC Center!
US Theatrical Premiere Engagement of Festival Hit PIG Announced! Opens Feb 1st at IFC Center! Encore Screenings of Audience Award Winner I WANT TO DANCE and daring satire SLY announced for Jan. 30th!

Source: The Iranian Film Festival NY

The 1st annual Iranian Film Festival New York (IrFFNY) which ran from Jan 10th–15th, ended Tuesday night after a massively successful 6 day run at the IFC Center, with 13 sold out shows, dazzling both NY audiences and critics. The festival, co-founded and co-programmed by Iranian film distributor & Festival Director Armin Miladi and film critic Godfrey Cheshire, highlighted both classic art-house Iranian cinema and cutting-edge films by young Iranian filmmakers. 

IFC Center’s Senior Vice President & General Manager, John Vanco started the Closing remarks on Tuesday night along with Miladi and Cheshire who introduced the festival jury which included David Schwartz (former Chief Curator of the Museum of the Moving Image), veteran film programmer Marian Masone (film curator at Art Basel) and filmmaker Ramin Serry (Columbia University film professor). The ecstatic jury remarked their love and excitement for all the films in the festival program, and then each of them announced their selections for the 3 awards.  

The winners are as follows: 

The BEST FILM award winner was given to the festival’s Closing Night film, SHEEPLE directed by Hooman Seyedi A violent action film about criminal gangs that has been compared to Brazil’s City Of God as well as the films of Tarantino, SHEEPLE also won the Audience Award this year at Iran’s Fajr Film Festival where it was called “the most exciting genre film” by The Hollywood Reporter. The film stars Navid Mohammadzadeh (Best Actor winner, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival) who is considered one the best new actors of Iranian Cinema. In his glowing review of the film in VARIETY, critic Owen Gleiberman called SHEEPLE a “traumatically explosive closing-night selection” and “an Iranian crime-family drama of explosive originality” and added that  Mohammadzadeh is “powerful” and “a fantastic actor”. 

The SPECIAL JURY award was given to HENDI & HORMOZ by Abbas Amini A tale of imperiled young love in coastal Iran that premiered at last year’s Berlinale and recently won Best Film & Best Director prizes at Toronto’s CineIran Film Festival, HENDI & HORMOZ has moved audiences and critics alike, and was singled out as “an early entry in the most beautiful films you’ll see in 2019”.

BEST ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT award was given to Asghar Yousefinejad’s THE HOME A Best Picture prize-winner in Iran that examines the tensions and deceptions in a family as they prepare to bury their just-deceased patriarch, THE HOME has been called a “raw emotional film” and “shot in a simple, unassuming style at times reminiscent of John Cassavetes” 

The AUDIENCE AWARD winner was given to the controversial comedy-drama I WANT TO DANCE by veteran Iranian filmmaker & the festival’s Guest of Honor, Bahman Farmanara Recently released from a four-year ban in Iran, I WANT TO DANCE follows Bahram Farzaneh (played by Reza Kianian), a lonely writer with severe writer’s block who begins to hear rhythmic Persian dance music in his head after an accident, which leads him to be consumed by the irrepressible desire to dance. People think he has gone crazy and this bizarre new behavior creates many problems for him – both with the authorities and his family.   

Additional Announcements about Encore Screenings & upcoming theatrical release of Mani Haghighi’s PIG at the IFC Center!

Additional announcements made at the Closing Ceremony include the upcoming US theatrical premiere engagement of Mani Haghighi’s critically acclaimed twisted dark comedy PIG (Khook), opening Feb 1st at the IFC Center, following two sold-out festival screenings. The film’s North American rights have been acquired by Miladi’s distribution company Daricheh Cinema, and will also have an LA opening immediately following its NY release. 

Film critic Richard Brody raved about PIG in his recent review in THE NEW YORKER where he called the film “a standout feature at the Iranian Film Festival New York” and that it “deserves to be seen widely.” 

Making its premiere in competition at last year’s Berlinale, PIG stars Hasan Majuni as Hassan, a blacklisted director who hasn’t been able to make a film in years, forcing him into directing commercials. Hassan is doubly frustrated that his muse, the actress Shiva (played by Leila Hatami) has started to work with other directors. But most galling of all, a serial killer is going about beheading Iran’s finest filmmakers, and their severed heads are being discovered with the word “pig” imprinted on their foreheads… yet Hassan remains unscathed. Feeling like he’s being ignored, Hassan’s bad luck turns to worse when he becomes the prime suspect in this murder case. The hilarity and hijinks that follow are quite unlike anything else in Iranian cinema. 

Also, based on popular demand, the IFC Center and IrFFNY announced the decision to add two encore screenings on Wednesday, Jan 30thfor Farmanara’s Audience Award winning film I WANT TO DANCE (7pm) and Kamal Tabrizi’s SLY (9:30pm).   

SLY (Märmouz), which recently premiered at the Busan Film Festival, is a daring satire of the Iranian political system, and stars one of Iran’s most acclaimed actors Hamid Behdad (Best Actor, CineIran Film Festival). 

Tickets for encore screenings of I WANT TO DANCE and SLY, and for the release of PIG will be available at the IFC Center box office (323 Sixth Avenue) or online at ifccenter.com


Festival director / Co-Founder / Co-Programmer Armin Miladi 
said: “I’d like to thank New Yorkers for this huge success in our first year at the Iranian Film Festival NY. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome with all of our 13 screenings selling out, and the positive energy and wonderful feedback we received from the audience. The pressure is now on to deliver and expand for the second year which we’re truly excited about. We’re also so pleased that the festival attracted such great attention from major media outlets and film critics. I’m hoping all this success will lead to the IrFFNY becoming a launching platform for new Iranian Cinema in the USA.” 

Co-Founder / Co-Programmer Godfrey Cheshire said: “The sold-out shows and tremendous audience response to our festival show that New York cinephiles are excited to be able to experience the latest developments in Iranian cinema. We look forward to giving them an even bigger edition in 2020.”

About IrFFNY: IrFFNY is an annual selection of acclaimed and award-winning films from one of the world’s most vital and distinguished national cinemas to New York audiences. The festival aims to unite two strands of Iranian moviemaking – the classic art-house Iranian cinema that is known to cinephiles around the world, and new cutting-edge works that show the adventurousness and daring nature of younger Iranian directors. The classic strand features celebrated names such as Bahman Farmanara (who was at the festival presenting 3 of his films), Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi. The first annual IRANIAN FILM FESTIVAL NY took place at the IFC Center from Jan 10th – 15th, 2019.  IrFFNY is co-founded and co-programmed by film critic Godfrey Cheshire, who has written extensively about Iranian cinema, and Festival Director and film distributor Armin Miladi who distributes Iranian films and runs the annual Iranian Film Festival of Australia, now in its 8th year. The festival is presented under the banner of Miladi’s company Daricheh Cinema.

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