Kurdish Iranian movie night, Bahman Ghobadi

Sunday February 17th 2013, Movie night: Turtles Can Fly (Bahman Ghobadi, Kurdistan, Iran, 2004, 95 min). English subtitles. Door open at 20pm, film begins at 21:00.

A social drama concerning the life of children in Kurdistan of Iraq near the Iraqi-Turkish border before the US invasion of Iraq. Born in 1969 in Baneh, in the province of Iranian Kurdistan, Bahman Ghobadi is an internationally acclaimed Iranian Kurd director who has been living in exile for several years. A socially inclined and politically outspoken artist, Ghobadi first came to the movie world’s attention in 2000, when his “Time for Drunken Horses” won the prize for best first feature at the Cannes Film Festival. Drunken Horses was the first Kurd film in the history of Iran and also the first feature-length film in Kurdish, a tongue banned in Iranian schools since the 1940s, to achieve an international release.

This film and all subsequent made by Ghobadi (among others, “Half Moon”, 2004, and “Turtles Can Fly”, 2006) were widely praised at film festivals the world over, gathering dozens of awards, but were little or not seen in his native country, Iran. In 2009, Ghobadi completed “No One Knows About Persian Cats“- a semi- documentary about the underground indie music scene in Tehran, filmed in Iran without an official permit and in very restricted conditions. His latest film to date, “Rhino Season” (2012), was shot in Istanbul.

According to the human rights non-profit organization International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the organization has “documented several cases of arrest or persecution of family members of Iranian political activists and journalists who themselves live outside Iran.” “In all noted cases the family members have not been implicated in any crimes and their summonses, arrests, interrogations, and intimidation have all been aimed atputting  pressure on the activists and journalists to stop their professional activities outside Iran.” On November 4, 2012, Iranian film director Behrouz Ghobadi (Bahman’s younger brother) was arrested by plainclothes forces in Iran. Amnesty International USA called Behrouz’s imprisonment “one of a series of attacks on freedom of expression by the Iranian authorities. Stifling creative expression by harassing artists and their families shows the depths of Iran’s desperate effort to cut off dialogue, much less criticism.” Ghobadi was recently released from prison in Iran, following an Amnesty-led campaign demanding his release that engaged prominent directors, actors and independent filmmakers.

Behrouz Ghobadi is the latest filmmaker to be detained by Iranian authorities. In December 2010 renowned director Jafar Panahi, who was awarded the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing any films, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media and from leaving the country. The director was prosecuted for attempting “to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic” and now lives under house arrest. Fellow director Mohammad Rasoulof was also detained, with the arrests sparking international outrage. Also in 2011, directors Naser Saffarian, Hadi Afarideh, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, and Shahnam Bazdar were held behind bars.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, warm and cozy cinema! Doors open at 20:00, film begins at 21:00, free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net