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2023 Karlovy Vary Festival Celebrates Indie Iranian Cinema, Japanese Director Yasuzo Masumura



The 57th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will focus on independent Iranian cinema this year, with a selection of recent works by directors working outside the Tehran regime.

The nine features, all made in the past four years, and most from young directors at the start of their careers, “offer an insightful testimony of the burning creativity of Iran’s artists in the face of their challenging reality,” the festival said in a statement, calling the films examples of “urgent, unheard, voices who palpably bear a spiritual connection to the previous generations of their country’s greats [and who] tackle the current reality [in Iran] with a remarkable sensitivity and great inventiveness.”

The selection includes two features from this year: Negin Ahmadi’s Dream’s Gate and Zapata from director Danesh Eqbashavi; two from 2022: Nader Saevar’s No End and The Locust, directed by Faeze Azizkhani; Bahram Ark’s The Skin and Vahid Vakilifar’s K9, both from 2020; 2019 features Black and White River from director Farzin Mohammadi, and Hossein Rajabian’s Creation Between Two Surfaces; and the 2021 feature A Trip To The Moondirected by Mohammadreza Shayan-Nejad.

The 2023 Czech festival, which runs June 30–July 8, will also pay tribute to late Japanese director Yasuzo Masumura with a retrospective, career-spanning program. In his decades-long career, Masumura, who died in 1986, moved between genres and styles, exploring taboo subjects and controversial politics, pushing the boundaries of traditional Japanese cinema.

“Long neglected in most of the Western world, the zany films of Japanese filmmaker Yasuzo Masumura have been gaining traction over the past decade, attracting new devotees and forcing critics and academics to reassess his ascribed position within the Japanese New Wave,” Karlovy Vary said. in a statement. “Two decades after his work began to circulate across Europe and the US, albeit in limited capacities, the films of Masumura now rank among the biggest film discoveries of the 21st century – a highly eclectic, unabashedly confrontational body of work with rebellious politics and highly distinctive aesthetics.”

For its retrospective, Karlovy Vary will screen some of the Japanese director’s most celebrated works, including his 1958 ad-world satire. Giants and Toysthe 1966 anti-war drama Red Angeland the surreal horror film Blind Beast from 1969.

Karlovy Vary also announced that Future Frames, its program for up-and-coming European directors, organized together with European Film Promotion, is partnering with US talent agency UTA and Range Media Partners, the management company set up by longtime CAA TV agent Peter Micelli. back in 2020, for its 2023 edition, with global lottery company Allwyn as a major sponsor.

The Future Frames program, which highlights short and medium-length films from 10 outstanding film students and graduates from across Europe, recommended by the European Film Promotion member organizations, will take place from July 2-5. Allwyn will sponsor a new networking area, the Future Frames Lounge, in the Thermal Hotel festival center, for one-on-one meetings between the talents and UTA and Range Media Partners representatives. At the end of the program, one director will be chosen to receive a special scholarship, sponsored by Allwyn, to allow them to spend a month in Los Angeles, learning from the best in the film industry.

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