When did you last watch an Iranian film? Or better yet, where is the last time you saw or learned anything about Iran? Odds are the news is where most Americans encounter any stories about Iran and usually, it’s not good news. Well, filmmaking is quite alive in Iran and the stories they tell are not what’s on the newscaster’s minds. They are mostly about the lives of everyday Iranians who experience the joys and sorrows of working hard and getting to tomorrow. Included in IRAN: Axis of People is a documentary about an Iranian girl who just wants to ride her bike on the city street but is reprimanded again and again for doing so as a girl. Gando is another documentary that relates the story of a girl who went to the river to fetch some water but encountered a crocodile?! This is evidently a regular problem for this village. Then there are several stunning animations about the worlds we humans have created around us. Iran truly is an axis around which stories of everyday people’s lives rotate. Films on this reel include…
ONE NICE DAY – An elementary school teacher is given the opportunity to give away one new bookbag to a student in his class. To decide, everyone writes a name on a piece of paper and tosses it into a bag. The teacher will pull out the winner. Little did he know… the fix was in! 🙂 (2014 / 3 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Sousan Salamat / live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
BORDERLESS – Delaram is a teenage girl who was born with Down syndrome. She is very aware of being treated differently by others and feels that there is a border between everyone she encounters. Delaram has come up with a unique coping mechanism to maintain happiness in her life. The imagination can be a powerful tool. (2020 / 13 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Behrad Sahebgharani / live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
GANDO – In the Sistan and Baluchistan provinces of Iran running water is scarce. Villagers must go to local ponds and rivers to get what they need on a daily basis. Once you are on the river bank you must be very careful because gando (Iranian crocodiles) live there as well. This documentary tells the story of a nine-year-old girl named Hawa who lost her arm one-day getting water. It’s also a story about, despite the gando being a threat, the villagers respect the gando because they believe they help bring the water. (2020 / 8 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Teymour Ghaderi / documentary / Persian w/English subtitles)
WOODEN SWORD – Two young boys meet on a park bench while waiting for their fathers to return. Little do they know their fathers have not formed a friendship similar to what they just have. Is what they see next might stay with them forever. (2019 / 7 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dirs Behzad Alavi, Sousan Salamat/ live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
THE ROTATION – There is a war between two tribes over claiming the sun in the sky. As a result of that war, the sun is annihilated and the volcano erupts. Those two tribes perish and a new sun is made by lava. Several centuries pass and the new tribes continue to war over their claim to the sun in the sky. The sad cycle continues. (2020 / 7 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Hazhir As’adi / animation / no dialogue)
RAINBOW – A young flower vendor working a street corner comes across something that is not his. The events that follow show his regret and misunderstanding of other people’s intentions. (2020 / 11 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Mohammad Khalili/ live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
A GIRL FROM PARSIAN …is an insightful documentary about a group of young Iranian women who wish to ride their bikes and the resistance they encounter from men of all ages. (2019 / 20 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Parinaz Hashemi Mobarakeh / documentary / Persian w/English subtitles)
THE ELEVENTH STEP – A little lion cub, born in a zoo, lives in a cage that is only ten steps long. On the eleventh step he bangs his head against the bars, but one day the zookeeper leaves the cage door open…. (2020 / 11 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Maryam Kashkoolinia / animation / Persian w/English subtitles)
RAYA – Raya’s family is having a dispute with the landlord and eviction is on the horizon. She and several of her friends also have a problem with a teacher at school and they decide to take matters into their own hands. Raya learns the hard way how not to deal with problems she might have with other people. Thankfully she demonstrates this knowledge shortly after. (2019 / 14 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Sepideh Berenji / live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
Community: A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Sometimes you might feel a part of this group and other times not so much. Life in school, with family or even as part of a world community can be challenging at times. In this compilation of shorts, you will see how others try to live in a community that isn’t exactly a natural fit. A Norwegian man creates a song about his favorite Indonesian food. What follows is nothing short of bizarre. Then there is Zara and her zombie family who have all the best intentions but are unaware of other people’s levels of disgust. Finally, when one friend cheats off another’s test, how willing should he be to turn him in? Include on this reel are…
MATHILDA AND THE SPARE HEAD – A girl tries hard to be the smartest student for her mother finds out a brain can only handle so much! (2020 / 13 mins / Lithuania / dir Ignas Meilūnas / animation / in Lithuanian w/English subtitles)
CRAMMING – Close friends Alex and Yan Bo, eighth-graders, cram for a test in a prestigious prep school. Once they’re accused of cheating off of one another, their friendship is threatened. (2020 / 15 mins / USA / dir Dan Perlman / live-action / in English and Spanish w/English subtitles)
LEARNING TO FLY – A young girl, upset that her mom won’t teach her how to ride a bike, meets a young boy who agrees to help her and they spend the day riding and talking about life. (2020 / 10 mins / USA / dir Nicolas Alayo / live-action / in English)
FAMILY BONDS tells the story of the little fox Hugo and his unconventional family to which love is more important than heritage. (2019 / 17 mins / Germany / dir Maria Schmidt / animation / no dialogue)
A SPECIAL GIFT: A Troublemaker’s Story – Lili, Stretch and ZéGordo (aka the Troublemakers) decide to surprise their friend Rosita by decorating her school for the neighborhood’s annual Christmas dinner, but they didn’t expect to deal with Stinky who is a jealous kid and is willing to spoil the decorations and the event altogether. (2019 / 7 mins / Mozambique / dir Nildo Essá / animation / in Portuguese w/English subtitles)
HELP I’VE GONE VIRAL! – A short documentary about Audun Kvitland who makes a love song about an Indonesian food dish called Nasi Padang after having been on vacation in the country. The song goes viral and is immediately heard by millions after he posted it on Youtube. Kvitland is invited back to Indonesia not knowing what to expect, but immediately after landing, he is greeted by a hallway of drummers at the airport. From then on he undertakes a funny, quirky and unexpected journey where people are united across cultures, languages and traditions over food and music. (2020 / 20 mins / Norway / dir Audun Amundsen / documentary / in English, Norwegian and Indonesian w/English subtitles)
ZARA AND THE OTHERS: Miss Miss – Zara has never heard of a “Miss-competition”, she only knows the girls in class say it’s a way to decide who the prettiest girl is. When Zara’s wacky dad brings a bucket of fresh moose poop to the event, things take an unexpected turn… (2020 / 13 mins / Norway / dir Nils Johan Lund & Bjørn Sortland / animation / Norwegian w/English subtitles)
In a province in the middle of the Mongolian steppe, 11-year old Amra lives a traditional nomad life with his mother Zaya, father Erdene, and little sister Altaa. While Zaya takes care of the flock, Erdene works as a mechanic and sells Zaya’s homemade cheese at the local market. Their peaceful routine is threatened by the encroachment of international mining companies, digging for gold and devastating the natural habitat. Erdene is the leader of the last nomads opposing them and tries to unite and convince his comrades not to accept the compensations the companies have offered. But after Amra’s father dies in a tragic car accident, his mother wants to give up the nomad life and trade the steppe for the city. But Amra refuses and tries to carry on his father’s David vs. Goliath fight with his cleverness and the tools of an 11-year-old boy.
This documentary offers an extraordinary and tender examination of family life in ways that feel both personal and universal. When their mother is imprisoned, Ale and his sister Rocio’s relationship is faced with the greatest challenge possible: they must work together to parent their two young siblings.They promise to help each other and keep their family together until their mother is released, but as undocumented Honduran immigrants, living, working and studying in Mexico is difficult. Soon the prison wall that keeps their mother away gives rise to other emotional barriers that prevent the brother and sister from understanding each other. Just as they start to lose hope the family’s life takes an unexpected twist.
Important note from the director:
In 2014 I worked for a non-profit organization which helps convicted women, overseeing their cases and helping their re-introduction to society. I met Rocío and Alejandro’s mother on one of my visits to prison, and I was immediately struck by her energy and clear-headedness in such a terrible environment. The other inmates had a great respect for her.
The moment I pointed my camera at them and conducted my first interview I felt drawn to them, and I was particularly intrigued by the way they were handling the situation. The whole thing seemed to me like an extremely difficult predicament, but here I saw two courageous individuals with a great sense of humor who were willing to keep fighting. And I deeply admired them.
I later found out more about their story. Their life had been full of ups and downs from an early age, but the family had stayed together and remained strong through all of it. That history had turned them into very unique individuals; they were a great, tight-knit family and their ties were deep and complex.
Consistently ranked among the greatest films ever made, Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL continues to inspire awe and laughter with every viewing. Rejected by the Confederate army and taken for a coward by his beloved Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), young Johnny Gray (Keaton) is given a chance to redeem himself when Yankee spies steal his cherished locomotive (“The General”). Johnny wages a one-man war against hijackers, an errant cannon and the unpredictable hand of fate while roaring along the iron rails.
Demolishing stereotypes without wrecking their cars, the Speed Sisters are the Middle East’s first all-female car racing team. With high-octane talent and the marketing savvy to draw attention to their camera-friendly lineup, this diverse, engaging, real-life group competes throughout the West Bank in Palestine’s makeshift motor sports circuit. They navigate Israeli checkpoints and restrictive societal expectations to evolve into potential role models for a new generation of young Arab women.
Cathy’s tenth birthday is tough enough without her eccentric father giving her an egg as a gift along with a warning: “Be there when it is born so the bird recognizes YOU as its mother.” After a game of hide-and-seek goes awry, Cathy’s friend Margaux unknowingly becomes the “mother.” Unfortunately for the bird and Margaux, her parents believe Margaux is unable to care for this pet from her wheelchair. It takes a duckling, a great friend and a temporary flight from home to alter everyone’s impressions of life’s limitations.
Two orphaned siblings (ten-year-old Pari and her brother, eight-year-old Chotu) leave an abusive aunt in search for medical help to bring back Chotu’s eyesight. In a mystical tale they encounter the best and the worst of Indian society on their search for a Bollywood star who offers financial assistance. During their quest you can feel the heat, smell the curries, enjoy the colors and music from the other side of the world.
Winner BEST FILM Generation KPlus Berlin Crystal Bear 2015
Aylin, age 17, finds herself caught between worlds: A world of accepting her mother’s death or not. A world of struggling to survive as a Turkish family in Germany or returning home. Most importantly, a world of facing her fears at school to succeed or to remain in violent isolation. She finds answers in the story of Hördur (the horse): an Icelandic pony is never allowed to return once it leaves its homeland. By developing the courage to challenge her status in the world, Aylin develops a bridge to self-discovery, and like Hördur, never looks back.
“T-Rex” is an intimate, true coming-of-age story about a new kind of American heroine. in 2012, women’s boxing debuted at the 2012 Olympics. Fighting for gold from the USA is Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, just 17 years old and by far the youngest competitor. From the hard knock streets of Flint, Mich., Claressa is undefeated and utterly confident. Her fierceness extends beyond the ring as he protects her family at any cost, even when their instability and addictions threaten to derail her dream. Claressa does have one stable force in her life. Coach Jason Crutchfield has trained her since she was just a scrawny 11-year-old hanging out at his gym. Jason always wanted a champion, but never thought it’d be a girl. Her relationships with her coach and her family grow tense as she gets closer to her dream, but Claressa is determined. She desperately wants to take her family to a better, safer place and winning a gold medal could be her only chance.