A Utopian Stage Film Marathon

An artist in a blue outfit sitting down while holding a book.

    A Utopian Stage Film Marathon

  • WHEN

    2 PM–6 PM on March 9, 2024

Beginning in its inaugural year in 1967, the Shiraz Arts Festival treated audiences to daily film screenings, drawing enthusiastic crowds, particularly among the younger demographic. Initially held at the Paramount and Capri cinemas, the festival later found its home at the Ariana Theatre, a state-of-the-art venue owned and operated by filmmaker Shahrokh Golestan, a native of Shiraz. The festival’s diverse lineup encompassed both classic and contemporary works, ranging from retrospectives of esteemed directors like Brook, Bergman, Buñuel, and Satyajit Ray to screenings of cutting-edge films by emerging Iranian talents and international auteurs.

One of the festival’s defining features was its thematic programming, which showcased a wide array of genres and topics. In 1970, for example, the festival delved into the theme of ‘theatre and ritual,’ presenting unfiltered glimpses of African rituals through the lens of French filmmaker Jean Rouch. Similarly, thematic showcases such as the 1975 presentation of musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Age and the 1977 exploration of Japanese cinema’s historical significance enriched the festival’s offerings and expanded its cultural impact.

Of particular note in the festival’s history was the premiere of Sergei Parajanov’s masterwork, “The Color of Pomegranates,” which took place amid significant anticipation and defiance of Soviet censorship. This groundbreaking film, along with other daring and thought-provoking selections like “Grass” and “Heir to Genghis Khan,” solidified the Shiraz Arts Festival’s reputation for showcasing groundbreaking cinema from around the world. Through its bold programming choices and pioneering spirit, the festival played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of Iranian cinema and leaving a lasting mark on the global film landscape.

This program features three films shown back to back. Opening the afternoon is William Greaves’ “The First World Festival of Black Arts”, a documentary film that celebrates a Shiraz-like festival that took place in the Senegalese capital of Dakar in 1966. Next shown will be a film shown at the Shiraz Arts Festival: Sergei Parajanov’s “The Color of Pomegranates”, a visually stunning exploration of the life and work of the Armenia poet Sayat-Nova. And closing the afternoon will be another film shown at the Shiraz Arts Festival – “Dayereh-ye Mina”, a film by Dariush Mehrjui, an Iranian filmmaker who was assassinated in October 2023.


2:00pm: The First World Festival Of Negro Arts (Dir. William Greaves, American, 1966, 40min)
2:45pm: The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov, 1969, Armenian, Georgian, 78 min)
4:00pm: Dayereh-ye Mina / The Mina Cycle (Dariush Mehrjui, 1975, Iran, 101 min)

This event is part of A UTOPIAN STAGE, an exhibition co-presented with Bowerbird and Asian Arts Initiative. Visit Bowerbird to learn more about this event!

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