Anne Démy-Geroe is a film programmer and scholar with a PhD in Iranian cinema. She lectures on Asia Pacific Cinema at Griffith Film School and was a co-director of the Iranian Film Festival in Australia. She was Vice President of NETPAC, the Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema, and involved with the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Demy-Geroe was the inaugural director of Brisbane International Film Festival from 1991 to 2010. She is a former council member of the National Film and Sound Archive. She has also worked on numerous film events and has served on many international jurors. In 2003, she was awarded an Australian Centenary Medal for services to the film industry. She was a jury member of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) at last year’s Fajr.
In an exclusive interview with the Press Office of Fajr, she talked about the Iranian Film Festival in Australia and benefits of being at Fajr Filmfest:
How many times have you come to Fajr?
This is my 16th time. I’ve come every year since 2002. I really enjoyed the festival and find it very useful for finding Iranian films. It’s very important to be here for meeting because people like to know you before they trust you. Last year, I invited two Iranian filmmakers to Australia for my students. We had Shahram Mokri and Hayedeh Safiyari. They presented some films and did workshops for students. You can’t do this if you hadn’t met and known them.
Has the festival changed over the years?
It has changed very much over the years. Last three years under Reza Mirkarimi’s direction was an amazing change. It’s good to go to the screening with public and also I liked the Talent Campus that’s an incredible innovation.
What are the differences between Australian festivals and ours?
In essence they are the same. The essence of the festival for many people is to get together, watch the films and do a lot of dialogues. In Iran a lot of dialogue happening. I see people always arguing about the films. The other things that is lovely here is the way film makers and actors are part of the festival. It’s magnificent. This interaction is very unique and something very special in Iran.
How do Australian audiences respond to Iranian films?
The big films are very well received. Like Asghar Farhadi’s and Abbas Kiarostami’s films. But the smaller films don’t get such reception. They don’t screen except in festivals. They are the films which are well received in festivals but don’t get good distribution. That’s a shame.
What about the Iranian Film Festival?
For 7 years, we had the Iranian Film Festival which we traveled to 7 different cities in Australia for it. Today, I am actually giving up this festival myself and my colleagues will continue it. It’s quiet successful. Largely has Iranian audience. We usually screen contemporary films but we try to get critical films as well.
With director Reza Mirkarimi at helm of 2018, Fajr Filmfest heralded stronger comebacks from Asia, Europe and Middle East. Whatever one says of Middle East cinema and its power rankings, the region’s best and most powerful showcase for cinema is, has been, and for all foreseeable time will be this festival, which ran in Charsou Cineplex and other venues in the Iranian capital until April 27. Vahdat Hall hosted the awards ceremony, which was attended by Iranian officials and international filmmakers and guests, including Culture Minister Seyyed Abbas Salehi and American filmmaker Oliver Stone.