Roudaki Hall Opera House in Tehran – FINAL ACT

Artists, Filmmakers, Actors filled the Opera – we could not make contact with any of them

The only Swiss – with Scarf for Palestine – under his beloved Swiss Flag

We were told to put the scarfs for Palestine on which they had given us together with other material upon arrival and get ready for the last act of the festival. The award ceremony was to take place in the Roudaki Opera House on a grand scale. When we arrived at the opera hall with our group bus many actors, artists, writers, filmmakers also from other parts of the country were already waiting outside but we were quickly led into the Opera House which was still empty. No contact was possible. The big Hall slowly filled with the most

The most Important People sat upfront

important people 4 or 5 rows in front of us. By the time the show started, the House was totally full up all floors on the gallery. Probably 800 people had come for this final act of the 11th Prize Award Ceremony.

Alberto – Participant and Awardwinner from Spain

The opening was a mix of religion, prayer and disco, telling how the prophet created Adam and Eve, underlined with the sound of constant explosions reminding me of war situations. Time went by with the distribution of awards for Iranian artists with most prizes going to male filmakers and directors. The jury was composed of males with one or two exceptions, changing from award to award. When it came to the international participation (Alberto Arce from Spain and Maisa

Saddam Hussein, Archenemy

Novikova from Russia in the background), we were addressed in Farsi. Our group was generously decorated with prizes. (though almost no spectators had ever sat in one of our films).

Intermittently war scenes were played, one with a mother and her son stretched out on stage telling her story that she had lost 3 sons in the Irak-Iran war and that she would give away even her apples, all she had left. They rolled out of her basket.

The International Jury of Competition of Feature Films announced the prize-winning films.

Some of the Prizewinners with a local Boy in the Middle

In the intermission we were whisked away, the prizewinners got the cash while I waited for them in the corridor. Again there was little chance to mingle with the people but whenever it was possible they came immediately forward to exchange a few words and let their children stand between us for a shot. Whenever the situation arouse, people showed a lot of interest.

Ilaria, interpreter, Uli, Jürg, Masja, Alberto

Back in our five star hotel questions came up why we were not introduced to any of the Iranian writers, filmmakers, actors and other important people. Why they would arrange for an international jury but no spectators had visited our films. When I put it to our translators one of the answer was that the decision for international participation was taken in a hurry only two month ago and advertising was done poorly. This didn’t quite satisfy us because the program was organized in a way that Iranian and International films would overlap which made it less likely, that viewers of Iranian films, that were often packed, would switch to our films. Where was the curiosity? Somebody else mentioned that young people would stay away from anything that smelled of government supported cultural activity. It was also mentioned that on TV people were constantly fed with war movies about the Irak-Iran war… . It was also said that international filmmakers were for the first time included in the Filmfestival.