Friday 24 May 2024
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Fajr 2018: Complete Guide to Special Screenings (Best of Countries)

Fajr 2018: Complete Guide to Special Screenings (Best of Countries)

The full line-up of Special Screenings – Best of Countries – at the 36th Fajr International Film Festival with details on each title including directors has been announced.

According to the secretariat of the annual event, a diverse selection of 11 films have been chosen for screening from Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Afghanistan, Greece (Macedonia), Ireland, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Mongolia, and Bosnia.

Here is the Special Screenings – Best of Countries – lineup:

Directions (Original Title: Posoki)

Director: Stephan Komandarev

Writer: Stephan Komandarev, Simeon Ventsislavov

DOP: Vesselin Hristov

Editor: Nina Altaparmakova

Music: Valeria Popova

Sound: Tobias Adam

Cast: Vasil Banov, Ivan Barnev, Assen Blatechki, Stefan Denolyubov

Producers: Vladimir Anastasov, Stephan Komandarev, Angela Nestorovska, Katya Trichkova

Production Co: Argo Film, Aktis Film Production, Sektor Film Skopje

Language: Bulgarian

Country, Year, Runtime: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Germany | 2017 | 103


A road movie set in present day Bulgaria, which remains optimistic, mainly because all the realists and pessimists have left. At a meeting with his banker, a small business owner, who drives a cab to make ends meet, has to bribe to get a loan. The ethics board that reviews his complaint about extortion now wants its share of the action. He shoots the banker and then himself. The incident sparks national debate on the radio about how despair has taken over the civil society.

About Director:

Stephan Komandarev is a Bulgarian director, producer and scriptwriter. Born in 1966 in Sofia, he graduated in film & TV directing from the New Bulgarian University (1999). His works include award-winning feature and documentary films, such as The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner (2008 – the first Bulgarian film, shortlisted for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film (2010). This film, distributed in 93 countries, won 35 awards at international film festivals. His other films are The Judgment (2014), The Town of Badante Women (2009, doc.), Alphabet of Hope (2003, doc.), Bread over the Fence (2002, doc.), Dog’s Home (1999, feature). Komandarev is a member of the Bulgarian Film Directors’ Association, Bulgarian Film Producers’ Association, and European Film Academy.

Festivals / Awards:

Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard, France / Toronto Film Festival, Canada

A Ciambra

Writer & Director: Jonas Carpignano

DOP: Tim Curtin

Editor: Affonso Gonçalves

Music: Dan Romer

Sound: Giuseppe Tripodi

Cast: Pio Amato, Koudous Seihon, Damiano Amato

Producer: Paolo Carpignano, Jon Coplon, Christoph Daniel, Gwyn Sannia

Production Co: DCM Pictures, RT Features, Rai Cinema, Sikella Productions, Stayblack Productions

Language: Italian

Country, Year, Runtime: Italy, France, United States, Germany | 2017 | 120 min


In A Ciambra, a small Romani community in Calabria, Pio Amato is desperate to grow up fast. At 14, he drinks, smokes and is one of the few to easily slide between the region’s factions – the local Italians, the African refugees and his fellow Romani. Pio follows his older brother Cosimo everywhere, learning the necessary skills for life on the streets of their hometown. When Cosimo disappears and things start to go wrong, Pio sets out to prove he is ready to step into his big brother’s shoes.

About Director:

Jonas Carpignano was born in 1984 and grew up between New York City and Rome. His first feature film Mediterranean debuted at the Cannes Film Festival – Semainede la Critique in 2015 before receiving the award for best directorial debut of 2015 by the National Board of Review as well as the Gotham Independent Film Award for breakthrough director.  The film was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards including best first feature. His second feature film A Ciambra had its world premiere at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at the 2017 Cannes film festival where it won the Europa Cinema Label prize for best European film. The film won numerous awards and prizes in addition to earning Carpignano a nomination for best director at the Independent Spirit Awards. A Ciambra was chosen to represent Italy for best foreign film at the 2018 Academy Awards and was named the best Italian Film of 2017 by the National Syndicate of Italian Film Critics.

Festivals / Awards:

2017, Cannes Film Festival, Label Europa Cinemas Award (Best European Film) / Bergen International Film Festival, Cinema Extraordinaire (Director) / Munich Film Festival / Stockholm Film Festival / Zagreb Film Festival / International Cinephile Society Awards, ICS Award for Best Picture / Palm Springs International Film Festival / Film Independent Spirit Awards

Rosa Chumbe

Director: Jonatan Relayze

Writer: Jonatan Relayze, Christopher Vásquez

DOP: Miguel Angel Valencia

Editor: Jonatan Relayze

Music: Jonatan Relayze

Sound: Omar Pareja, Rosa María Oliart

Cast: Liliana Trujillo, Cindy Díaz, Franco Diaz

Producer: Eliana Illescas, Jonatan Relayze

Production Co: Yin Zhang Films

Language: Spanish

Country, Year, Runtime: Peru | 2015 | 73 min


Rosa Chumbe is a mature police officer with both a gambling and a drinking problem. She lives with her daughter Sheyla, who has a little baby. After a big fight, Sheyla steals her mother’s savings and storms out of the house leaving her baby behind. Rosa is forced to take care of her grandson.

About Director:

Jonatan Relayze Chiang (1981, Lima) is a Chinese Peruvian film director and editor. He made a dozen shorts in 16mm and video, shown in different countries. He was also selected to the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2008. He has worked on many Peruvian feature films, and also worked as freelance editor for several international networks such as Discovery Channel, Al Jazeera and Channel 4. In 2012, he won the Peru’s National Production Fund, which led him to produce his first feature film Rosa Chumbe, shown in many festivals around the globe and released in June 2017. The film was selected as the Peruvian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

Festivals / Awards:

2015, Montreal World Film Festival, FIPERSCI Prize in First Film Competition, Social Mention of the First Films Jury / Lima Latin American Film Festival, Best Peruan Film / 2016, Austin International Film Festival of the Americas, Best Feature Film / 2017, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Best Actress, Special Mention (International Official Selection) / Festival de Cine de Fuengirola, Best Film, Best Actress

A Letter to the President

Director: Roya Sadat

Writer: Aziz Deldar

DOP: Behrooz Badrooj

Editor: Ahmad Farid Farahmand, Razi Kashi

Music: Zabih Mahdi

Cast: Leena Alam, Aziz Deldar

Producer: Roya Sadat

Production Co:  Roya Film House, Kaboora Productions

Language: Dari

Country, Year, Runtime: Afghanistan | 2017 | 83 min


Soraya is a public official struggling to enforce the law in Afghanistan. When she decides to save a young woman accused of adultery from a clan, things spiral for the worse to the point she’s arrested and put on a death row. Asking for justice, she writes to the president, the last person who can save her.

About Director:

Roya Sadat is an award-winning female Afghan director who successfully brought important, touching stories to international festivals after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan. She graduated from the University of Herat, Law and Politics. In 2006, she was awarded a scholarship to study at the Asian Film Academy in South Korea. At the age of 20, she directed her first documentary Three Dots, which won international awards. In 2003, she founded the first female Afghan film company Roya Film House together with her sister Alka Sadat. Roya Film House has won more than 40 national and international awards, particularly for Alka’s shorts and documentary films. In addition, she founded the first International Women’s Film Festival in Afghanistan and a Book & Film Club to encourage people, especially women, to read more and improve their knowledge. From 2007-2008, she directed 50 episodes of the first Afghan TV series The Secrets of This House and later three seasons of the most famous Afghan TV drama Beahesht Khamosh, which in 2013 won the Rumi Award for Best TV Drama and Writing. In 2017 she directed her first feature film A Letter to the President, which premiered at Locarno Film Festival.

Festivals / Awards:

VIFFAC Awards, special mention international jury / special mention NETPAC jury / audience award for a fiction feature / students’ award, France

Secret Ingredient

Writer & Director: Gjorce Stavreski

DOP: Dejan Dimeski

Editor: Martin Ivanov

Music: Branislav Nikolov

Sound: Igor Popovski

Cast: Blagoj Veselinov, Anastas Tanovski

Producer: Fragment Film, Graal S.A.

Production Co: Fragment Film, Graal Films

Language: Macedonian

Country, Year, Runtime: Macedonia, Greece | 2017 | 107 min


An underpaid train mechanic uses stolen marijuana to make a cake for his father to relieve his cancer pain, but suddenly he finds himself cornered by criminals who want their drugs back and neighbors who want the recipe for the “healing” cake.

About Director:

Gjorce Stavreski is a film maker based in Skopje, Macedonia. He is a founding member of Trice Films, and owner of the Fragment Film. He writes, directs and produces films and commercials. He is also winner of several awards from international film festivals.

Song of Granite

Director: Pat Collins

Writer: Pat Collins, Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Sharon Whooley

DOP: Richard Kendrick

Editor: Tadhg O’Sullivan

Music: Delphine Measroch

Sound: Sylvain Bellemare

Cast: Macdara Ó Fatharta, Mícheál Ó Confhaola, Jaren Cerf, Pól Ó Ceannabháín, Colm Seoighe

Producer: Alan Maher, Jessie Fisk, Martin Paul-Hus

Production Co: Amerique Film, Harvest Films, ROADS Entertainment, South Wind Blows

Language:  Irish, English

Country, Year, Runtime: Ireland, Canada | 2017 |97 min


This film revolves around the life of the great traditional Irish singer, Joe Heaney. The stylized black-and-white picture, obscuring the border between documentary and fiction, is a cinematic ballad that invites viewers to join the enigmatic, talented and idiosyncratic artist on his dramatic life journey; along the way we also get a sense of the difficult yet humble life of the people of Ireland over the course of last century. The film takes us to the district of Connemara, and to the village of Carna, Joe Heaney’s birthplace, considered the cradle of local folklore, and then the camera accompanies him on his travels round the world. The power and magic of the songs provide the central motif threading its way through the film.

About Director:

Pat Collins, a native of Cork, has been making films since 1998 and now has more than thirty features, documentaries and short experimental films to his name. His filmography includes documentary works about writers Michael Hartnett, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and John McGahern. He also co-directed a documentary about Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. In 2012 he turned out the feature film Silence, which had its international premiere at the London festival and was distributed by Element Films in Ireland and New Wave Films. Song of Granite is his second feature film.

Festivals / Awards:

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival


Writer & Director: Anahid Abad

DOP: Hassan Karimi

Editor: Siavash Kordjan

Music: Vahan Artsrouni

Sound: Babak Ardalan

Cast: Sergay Tovmasian, Narina Grigorian, ShantHovhanisian, Vrejh Kasoni

Producer: Taghi Ali Gholizadeh

Language: Armenian

Country, Year, Runtime: Iran | 2017 | 94 min


Yeva is a young woman who escapes her in-laws with her daughter Nareh. After her husband’s tragic death she takes refuge in one of the villages of Karabakh, Armenia. She is a complete stranger in this village and is obliged to live her daily life in disguise.

About Director:

Born in an Armenian family in 1969 in Tehran, Anahid Abad holds a BA in Film Directing. She has worked as first assistant director and planner in many Iranian movies. She also worked with prominent directors such as Alireza Davoodnejad, Abolfazl Jalili, Rasoul Sadrameli, Ahmad Reza Darvish, Varuzh Karim-Masihi, and Bahram Beizaie.


Director: Aktan Arym Kubat

Writer: Ernest Abdyjaparov, Aktan Arym Kubat

DOP: Khasan Kydyraliyev

Editor: Petar Markovic

Music: Sandro Friedrich

Sound: Gerben Kokmeijer

Cast: Aktan Abdykalykov, Nuraly Tursunkojoev, ZaremaAsanalieva, Taalaikan Abazova, Ilim Kalmuratov, BolotTentimyshov, Maksat Mamyrkanov

Producer: Marc Baschet, Martin Hampel, ThanassisKarathanos, Altynai Koichumanova

Production Co: ASAP Films, Oy Art Film Producing Company

Language: Kirghiz

Country, Year, Runtime: Kyrgyzstan, Germany, France, Netherlands, Japan | 2017 | 89


Centaur lives with his family in rural Kyrgyzstan until he suddenly becomes the center of attention when he is caught stealing a racehorse at night.

About Director:

Aktan Arym Kubat was born in 1957 in Sakoulou, Kountouou, Kyrgyzstan. He is known for The Adopted Son (1998), The Chimp (2001), and The Light Thief (2010).

Festivals / Awards:

Asia Pacific Screen Awards, UNESCO Award / Berlin International Film Festival, Germany, CICAE Award (Panorama)

Scary Mother

Writer & Director: Ana Urushadze

DOP: Mindia Esadze

Editor: Alexander Kuranov

Music: Nika Pasuri

Sound: Paata Godziashvili, Irakli Ivanishvili

Cast: Nata Murvanidze, Ramaz Ioseliani, Dimitri Tatishvili, Avtandil Makharadze

Producer: Lasha Khalvashi, Tinatin Kajrishvili, Ivo Felt

Production Co: Artizm, Gemini

Language: Georgian

Country, Year, Runtime: Georgia, Estonia | 2017 | 107 min


Ana Urushadze’s remarkable debut feature as writer and director finds a 50-year-old Tbilisi housewife, Manana (Nata Murvanidze), in the middle of a torturous struggle, having to choose between her family life in the patriarchal Georgian society and her lifelong passion for writing, which she has repressed for years. Despite the wishes of her husband and three children, and only encouraged by a local stationer who comes to act as her editor (and considers her profane work-in-progress to be a masterpiece), she plunges head on into the artistic abyss, sacrificing herself to her book both mentally and physically, and withdrawing from her maternal duties.

About Director:

Ana Urushadze, born in Tbilisi (Georgia) in 1990, graduated from the Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Georgia State Film University in 2013, and directed several short films such as Ideas (2010) and One Man Loved Me (2012). Sashishi Deda (Scary Mother) is her feature film debut. Her first feature film Scary Mother was selected as the Georgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

Festivals / Awards:

Locarno, best first feature / 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival, top prize, The Heart of Sarajevo

Children of Genghis

Writer & Director: Zolbayar Dorj

DOP: Angarag Davaasuren

Editor: Gantulga Urtnasan

Music: Ulziibayar Shatar

Sound: Ricardo Mejia

Cast:  Dorjsambuu Dambii, Ankhnyam Ragchaa, BatmendBaast, Dorj Dambii, Batnairamdal Tsewegjaw, Brittany Belt

Producer: Angarag Davaasuren, Altantsetseg Jarantai

Production Co: EFilm, Mongol Film Group Los Angeles

Language: Mongolian

Country, Year, Runtime: Mongolia | 2017 | 101   min


The story is about the horse racing tradition. The town’s best horse race trainer Bold has many people gathered at his house for a special announcement. Bold begins to brag about his horses and skills and how no one in town is better than him. Bold begins to talk about his most prized horse, the brown steed that still has yet to find its rider.

About Director:

Zolbayar Dorj was born in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in 1972. As director, producer, cinematographer and writer, he debuted in 1996 with Amour. He has also worked as editor, cinematographer and director. His films include One Night (1998), Ballad of Crazy Love (2001), I Wish My  Mother’s Kiss (2002), Smell of Water (2005), No right to Die (2008), Three Meaningful Heads (2011), Genghis Legend of the Ten (2012), and Children of Genghiz (2017).

Festivals / Awards:

Mongolian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards / Asian Film Festival Barcelona, Spain / Special Mention in NETPAC Section / Best Cinematography Award in Cathy Pacific Awards / Giffoni Film Festival, Italy / Asian World cinema, Los Angeles, USA, / Toronto International Film Festival, Canada

The Miner

Writer & Director: Hanna Slak

DOP: Matthias Pilz

Editor: Vladimir Gojun

Music: Amélie Legrand

Sound: Gabor Ripli

Cast: Leon Lucev, Marina Redžepovic, Boris Cavazza, Nikolaj Burger

Producer: Siniša Juricic, Michel Balagué

Languages:  Slovenian, Bosnian

Country, Year, Runtime: Croatia, Slovenia | 2017 | 102 min


The Miner is based on a true story of an immigrant miner in Slovenia, who in a sealed mine, deep underground, finds thousands of bodies of people thrown into a pit after WW2. He affronts the society by insisting to arrange a funeral for those unidentified victims, thus risking his job, the wellbeing of his family, and even his own life.

About Director:

Hanna Slak, Slovenian, born 1975 in Warsaw, based in Berlin, is a film director, multimedia artist and writer. She has written and directed feature films (Blind Spot, 2001, Teah, 2007, Rudar, 2017), as well as documentary films and experimental shorts. She also creates video installations and video design for the stage. Her poems have been published in Slovenia, her short plays in English and German have been staged at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin. Her films were screened at festivals such as Cannes, Berlinale, Rotterdam, Locarno, and others.  Her 3rd feature film Rudar was the Slovenian entry for the 2018 Foreign Language Academy Awards (the Oscars).

Festivals / Awards:

2017, Warsaw Film Festival, Competition, Poland / Special Mention, Ecumenical Jury, Special Mention, Festival of Slovenian Film, Competition, Slovenia / Best Director, Best Actor, Best Editor, Triest International Film Festival, Competition, Italy / Young Audience Award

Presided over by Iranian film writer and director Reza Mirkarimi, the 36th edition of Fajr International Film Festival will be held in Tehran on April 19-27. The festival is set to welcome over 300 special guests to this year’s edition, ranging from filmmakers to screenwriters, actors to activists. A host of A-listers will attend, including legendary Italian actor Franco Nero and influential American film director Oliver Stone.

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