This year’s FILMADRID International Cinema Festival, which started on June 8 and will be underway until June 17, has dedicated a special section to Iranian comedies and cinema of the absurd.
The season will attempt to focus on an unknown, complex and unconventional cinematography often overlooked by the western media which, has a tendency to prefer the more contemplative films of Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi instead.
Traditionally the use of humour and the absurd have been employed as a valuable means to express the realities of Iranian society.
The recent history of Iran has been the principal source of inspiration for bold filmmakers who, via comedy verging on surrealism and the absurd express the current living conditions of their fellow countrymen.
According to the festival’s official website, the undisputed maestro of this genre is Mani Haghighi, whose most recent work A Dragon Arrives! (2016), had its worldwide premiere in the official section of the Berlin film festival.
Set in the 60’s the main character is a detective from Tehran who is sent to investigate the suicide of a political prisoner on a remote island in the Persian Gulf. The journey brings the main character face to face with the more ancient aspects of the country, a hostile territory whose rumblings arouse the supernatural. The director presents a virtuous mix of documentary, film noir, science fiction and comedy of the absurd to reflect the climate of chaos and corruption prevalent in the time of the Shah.
A Dragon Arrives signifies the definitive arrival of Haghighi on the scene whose previous works Abadan (2004), Men at Work (2006) and Modest Reception (2012) had positioned him as the most innovative and critical filmmaker at work in the country.
The retrospective series also includes work from masters such as Dariush Mehrjui – whose film The Tenants (1986) was the first of the comedies of the absurd in Iran as well as young talents such as Shahram Mokri and Ali Ahmadzadeh.
Fundamental questions dealing with the rise of capitalism, the confrontation between the traditional and the modern and the women’s place in Iranian society will all be considered in this ambitious season which will present the country from a more realistic, funny and subversive point of view.