One. On. One: Filmmaker Mania Akbari in conversation

The last few years have seen a noticeable rise in Iranian cinema’s international profile, both through relatively mainstream breakthrough success for films like the Oscar-winning A Separation and thanks to publicised restrictions on the country’s filmmakers, most notably the house arrest of director Jafar Panahi, as documented in 2011’s This Is Not a Film. With artistic expression so heavily monitored, many of the country’s best have chosen to depart and make films elsewhere, Abbas Kiarostami (Close-UpTaste of Cherry) among them, whose most recent films – Certified Copy and Like Someone in Love – have been part financed in France and shot in Italy and Japan.

Mania Akbari is another filmmaker who has chosen to leave her homeland to continue her work, in her case spurred by concerns that her cast and crew on her film, which would end up being named From Tehran to London due to the circumstances of its completion, would face arrest on the basis of what has happened to Panahi and others. Now a resident in the UK, she is perhaps still best known to audiences here as the star of Kiarostami’s acclaimed 2002 film Ten, but various sources – the BFI, writer-director Mark Cousins and the Edinburgh International Film Festival among them – are serving to raise the profile of this most exciting filmmaker…

Full interview for The Skinny

Advertisements

Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, 2013)

Fantasy man Guillermo del Toro’s latest, Pacific Rim, is a large-scale love letter to Japanese sci-fi, but also an accessible blockbuster imbued with delightful eccentricities amid its broad elements…

Full review for The Skinny

Natan (Paul Duane/David Cairns, 2013)

When a person is murdered and the body burned, all that is left is a name and a sum total of everything said about them; distort the shape of their life’s outline and the truth will become lost. Cairns and Duane’s documentary implies that early film innovator Bernard Natan died a second death through becoming largely forgotten and misremembered through exaggerated misinformation, spread both during his life and much later. An inventively told film, Natan seeks to rehabilitate the image of an arguable giant of French cinema, who once had ownership of the still prominent Pathé Studios, and advanced colour and sound filmmaking…

Full review for The Skinny

This Is Martin Bonner (Chad Hartigan, 2013)

Martin Bonner (Eenhoorn) is at a lull in his life. An Aussie expat, he finds himself leaving his grown-up east-coast family and moving to Reno, Nevada for the only job he can get after three years of searching – transitioning ex-convicts into society. Through this new position, he forms a friendship with one of the people he mentors, Travis (Arquette), who’s been released into a city he does not know, following a 12-year stretch for involuntary manslaughter, and is desperate for help in getting a fresh start…

Full review for The Skinny

We Are the Freaks (Justin Edgar, 2013)

Following three teenage friends on a night out in 1990, after Thatcher has just stepped down, We Are the Freaks opens with self-reflexive narration that posits that “this is not a teen movie”; this follows an opening tirade that includes the lead expressing contempt for films where people talk to camera, right after doing so himself. It’s a film that, through meta stylistic tics (“Got any music that won’t be in wanky nostalgic films in 20 years time?”), constantly draws attention to itself; the problem is that it never provides anything to warrant the viewer’s attention…

Full review for The Skinny

From Tehran to London (Mania Akbari, 2012)

Mania Akbari’s film is dedicated to “all those filmmakers in Iran, who have served a prison sentence and the ones who are still in prison.” A hypnotising exploration of a dissatisfied couple, the film conveys imprisonment in its own aesthetic. Relegated solely to a rural home’s interiors and shot in long, unbroken takes heavy on close-ups, it is a series of electric dialogues between wife, husband, sister and servant over the course of a few weeks, addressing both a specific relationship and the issue of women’s roles in Iran…

Full review for The Skinny

Robot Rock: Kenji Kamiyama on ‘009 Re: Cyborg’

Since 2009, October’s Scotland Loves Anime festival has been a yearly highlight for the country’s animation fans, hosting various UK and European premières, Q&A events with filmmakers, and that all important and often rare opportunity to see anime in a cinema environment. Andrew Partridge, the driving force behind the festival, has now launched Anime Limited, a new distribution company based out of Glasgow. Its mantra is to provide chances to see high quality anime films on the big screen, as well as through other media. As such, Anime Limited’s first release, 009 Re: Cyborg, will receive a multi-platform release, heading to both select cinemas and digital platform Distrify. ..

Full interview for The Skinny

Writing by Josh Slater-Williams