In light of Jafar Panahi’s open letter to Isabella Rossellini, the Berlinale, and all of us and his plea for artistic freedom, I am going to host (very last-minute I know) a blog-a-thon during the week of Feburary 21 – 27 celebrating the contributions of Iran to the world of film-making. If you are interested in participating, just send me the links you have written during that week and I will post them here on my site. It can be about whatever you want, it doesn’t have to be about Jafar Panahi, specifically, although posts about his work would be fantastic. If you don’t have a blog and want to participate, feel free to write something and send it to me. I will post it here.I'm extremely excited for this. I was about to watch Panahi's Crimson Gold anyway and will be contributing a piece on that film and, if time allows, at least one other post on another Iranian film I've never seen, Dariush Mehrjui's Leila (I also have yet to speak on Kiarostami's Koker trilogy, but I am getting way ahead of myself if I think I'll have time for all that). As Sheila said, no familiarity with Iranian film is necessary, and I hope to see some people joining in who have never seen a film from the country. Speaking from my own, extremely limited experience with Iranian cinema, I have found it beautiful almost to the point of pain, filled with commentary on humanity that transcends national borders -- a particularly impressive feat, given how ripe a sociopolitical structure like Iran's theocratic dictatorship lends itself to polemics.
Often, bloggers hold retrospectives and blog-a-thons simply out of a love for a particular director or genre, which is more than a valid reason. But it's nice to see a real impetus for engagement and learning here, a chance for many of us to get better acquainted with a fascinating but little-seen section of world cinema with copious treasures waiting to be discovered. If you don't want to participate, please help spread the word. A few Tweets go a long way. Hope to see a nice turnout for this.
(Contact information about the blog-a-thon can be found on Sheila's site via the link at the top of the post.)