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Yamagata doc fest honors Iran’s ‘Gracefully’, ‘Exodus’

The 2019 Yamagata Int’l Documentary Film Festival in Japan awards Iranian titles ‘Gracefully’ and ‘Exodus’.

The 2019 edition of the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF) in Japan has awarded Iranian titles ‘Gracefully’ and ‘Exodus’.

Bahman Kiarostami received an Award of Excellence at the New Asian Currents Awards section for ‘Exodus’, the organizers announced on Wednesday.

Directed and produced by Kiarostami, the 80-minute documentary is about migrant workers from Afghanistan who have lined up to leave Iran as the renewed US sanctions have sparked a recession.

But since they have illegally entered Iran, first they are required to go for some interviews in an immigration center in Tehran.

‘Exodus’ has so far attended a number of global film events, including the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto.

The documentary has also won some awards, including one at the international section of the 12th Cinema Verite international documentary film festival in Iran.

The 2019 YIDFF’s Directors Guild of Japan Award went to ‘Gracefully’ by Arash Eshaqi from Iran.

The 64-minute documentary is about an 80-year-old man known for having danced at local ceremonies and celebrations dressed as a woman in his youth.

Dancing publicly is prohibited after the revolution and he now lives as a farmer, taking care of cows. This film captures the man’s continued pursuit of happiness through dancing.

The 2019 YIDFF also reviewed a selection of films directed by Iranian filmmakers from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Iranian cinema “continues to fascinate people all around the world,” the organizers said in a statement for the program titled “Reality and Realism: Iran 60s–80s”.

“This program explores the origins of this pull in the works” screened in the program, the statement added.

The program included ‘The Uncle with a Moustache’ (1969) and ‘Bashu, the Little Stranger’ (1985) by Bahram Beyzaee, as well as ‘Black and White’ (1972), ‘A Simple Event’ (1973) and ‘Still Life’ (1975) by Sohrab Shahid-Saless.

The list went on with Kamran Shirdel’s ‘Women’s Prison’ (1965), ‘Women’s Quarter’, ‘Tehran Is the Capital of Iran’ (1966) and ‘The Night It Rained’ (1967).

The program also screened ‘The House is Black’ (1962) by Forough Farrokhzad, ‘Deliverance/Release’ (1971) by Nasser Taqvaee, ‘Hossein Yavari’ (1973) by Khosro Sinaee, ‘Tenancy’ (1982) by Ebrahim Mokhtari, ‘First Case… Second Case’ (1979) by Abbas Kiarostami, and ‘Water, Wind, Dust’ (1989) by Amir Naderi.

The YIDFF is a documentary film festival held biennially in Yamagata, Japan.

It was first held in October 1989 which makes it one of the longest running documentary film festivals in the world and one of the most distinguished ones in Asia.

Its emphasis is on showcasing best achievements in documentary filmmaking as well as promoting and popularizing the genre and documentary filmmaking in the region.

The 2019 edition of the YIDFF was held on October 10-17.