International Roshd Film Festival is the oldest film festival of Iran, which focuses on educational films for the children, took place in the last week of October. It had documentary,short,animation and feature films from forty countries.In those sections winners were fom France,Spain.Mexico and Iran.
There were fifteen films in the feature film category. The films, which was awarded the Golden Statue, is a film named FLAME IN THE WIND directed by Farhad Meheranfar. Its a very interesting story about girl students in Northern Iran and how they strike a virtual friendship with a girl from Southern Iran which is so different from their culture and climate. Northern Iran is very green with beautiful waterfalls and mountains. The tribe who live there try to conserve their nature and environment. The Forest officer was killed by the contractors who come there to steal the woods from the forest and after this incident the wife of the officer is furiously protective about the forest and does not want her only daughter to go to another town for higher studies. And when the girl Shooka goes with other village girls, a whole new world opens up and she learns about the computer, video camera. She befriends a dumb girl from Southern Iran in cyber space and learns about their culture, climatic conditions which is vastly different from theirs. The dumb girl, who is humiliated for her physical inadequacies among her fellow students, grows self-confidence with the compassion and love of Shooka. After Shooka’s return to the village, the director metaphorically states through the dwarf of the village that he did not grow up, as he did not study. The epilogue of the film a tad bit long states how the Southern girl helps Shooka’s mother with their knowledge of herbal medicines.
The special jury prize was given to MISTR HEADMASTER by Hassan Karimi, which is about a very strict school teacher who believes that the student’s behaviour should be controlled even outside of the school premises. When he plans a journey to a holy place, he asks the students to write letters with their wish list but the journey gets cancelled for his personal reasons. And he had to return the letters to the students. He finds one anonymous letter which was a complain about himself and now his obsession is to find the writer of the letter. Suddenly an incidence takes place where one student is hurt trying to protect the teacher and that changes the whole perspective of the teacher towards his values and personal relationships. The scene with his student in the hospital was a very poignant scene. He returns home and his wife tells him that he has been very strict with everybody and he realizes that one can win people’s love only with compassion and not with rules and regulations.
The silver statue went to AVAAN, directed by Arash Hosseini and written by an accomplished writer Mojtaba Rai. It is a technically very polished film with a perfect cast. It reflects on social issues at the backdrop of a story of friendship of two young boys from socially opposite backgrounds. One is a Kurd native Aavaan living near the mountains with his dumb father and the other an engineer’s son. One day the engineer’s son stumbles upon Aavaan in the village and his elder brother tries to persuade Aavaan’s father with material gifts to take Aavaan with him to the city for few days. By the time Aavaan comes to the city the engineer’s son has already left to the war front where even teenagers fought for the country against the Iraq invasion. After the death of the engineer’s son in the war, Aavaan who hated guns and violence earlier goes to the war front to defend his country men and dies a martyr saving his fellow men. The engineer, a tough man who did not shade a tear for his own son breaks down.
The Diploma of Honour was given to the Indian film GATTU by Rajan Khosa for handling a story of an orphan boy Gattu who loves playing kites and enters a school terrace to play a kite disguised as a student. And his experience in the school changes him for the better and he tells the truth at the end without caring for the repercussion of it.
What was amazing in the festival was the endeavour by the Iran government to educate the children though the cinematic language. Two thousand three hundred years ago PANCHTANTRA was written in India to educate children about life and its morals though Buddhist tales, which was translated by Persian author Borzuye in the 6th Century AD. Now that we have this new medium CINEMA, we can certainly utilize this to educate children on science, technology and most importantly ethics of life. Optic nerve being the shortest to the brain and what we see will remember faster than what we hear.
Bijaya Jena, Director-Jury Member