Gönül Dönmez-Colin: FIFF Is Becoming World Renowned for Its Talent, Programming, Screenings

Gönül Dönmez-Colin: FIFF Is Becoming World Renowned for Its Talent, Programming, Screenings

Gönül Dönmez-Colin is a film scholar specializing in the cinemas of Central Asia and the Middle East. She is the author of Women, Islam and Cinema, Cinemas of the Other: A Personal Journey with Filmmakers from the Middle East and Central Asia, and The Cinema of North Africa and the Middle East.

In an interview with the Press Office of Fajr, she said this year’s edition currently holds the title of housing the largest number of visitors per screening in the region. It’s also the biggest regional film festival, and one that is becoming world renowned for its talent, programming, and breathtaking cinema screenings – as well as films.

You have written several books about the Middle East and Central Asia cinemas. You worked on a book about female filmmakers of the Middle East and even interviewed Iranian women directors. Did you publish your book?

I haven’t finished it yet and I have to finish it at the end of June and it’s set to be published later this year. It will be published by a company in England but it is multinational and will be published in New York simultaneously by a famous publisher which publishes academic books. It has published my previous book which is Dictionary Of Turkish Cinema. I edited a book called Cinema of North Africa and the Middle East, which has articles about Amir Naderi’s The Runner and Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten in it.

You also worked on the North African cinema. Can you compare these cinemas?

Iran and turkey have similar cultures and their influence on their cinema is huge. Their cinemas are identical. Arab countries have a different cinema based on their culture which is quite different from Iran and Turkey.

Are there any differences between Iranian female directors and their Turkish counterparts?

It’s a difficult question to answer because it is related to each director’s personality and at a higher level, we must consider filmmakers who like to be recognized as women filmmakers and those that just want to direct a specific genre. For example, Rakhshan Bani Etemad is one of the latter. She doesn’t want to be seen as a female director who is dealing with social issues. Many female directors in Turkey are like her as they like to make films about the society. They just make movies like men.

You were here last year too. What’s your first impression from this year’s festival?

I think it looks like last year which was very good and well organized and I think this festival will get bigger regionally and internationally. I know many people here now, and that’s a great experience.

Presided over by writer-director Reza Mirkarimi, the 36th edition of Fajr International Film Festival runs in Charsou Cineplex and other venues in Tehran until April 27. The event organizers are receiving over 300 special guests, ranging from filmmakers to screenwriters, actors to critics and scholars. A host of A-listers like Franco Nero are also attending, including influential American film director Oliver Stone.

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