Given by Keynote speaker, Mahmood Karimi-Hakak
Festival Cinema Invisible (festivaal-e cinemaa-ye penhaan) is established with the mission to celebrate the cinematic works of the Middle East, to foster purposeful communication and meaningful cultural exchange by exhibiting their artistic and creative works, and to offer the international community the opportunity to expand its understanding and knowledge of the region through this young and too often invisible cinema.
To emphasize the vast and rich cultures and traditions of that part of the world, each year Festival Cinema Invisible will focus on one area of the region. Since FCI is indeed the brainchild of a group of Iranians, and because we are more familiar with our own culture and community, this first year of the festival is dedicated to presentation of Iranian Invisible Cinema. We are hopeful that as more artists and art lovers of Middle Eastern descent step forward, FCI will be able to grow to its full potential in representing the diverse filmmakers of this most ancient part of our world.
My colleague and friend, Richard Foltz, skillfully reminded us that, “Iran is a country that cannot be ignored!” I agree with this simple, yet profound statement, and I know you do as well. For centuries, Iranians have captured the world’s attention not by their military ambitions, but through their deep rooted understanding of the human rights; through their respect for others cultural, social and religious values; through their unending struggle for equality, freedom and justice; and through their undeniable philosophical, artistic and scientific contributions to the humanity at large.
In recent years, these achievements included Iranian cinema—a cinema that has swept the screens of international festivals all over the glob winning over 300 awards and prizes for its creators. These accomplishments, nonetheless, for the most part belong to more seasoned filmmakers whose creative training is rooted in the period prior to the 1979 uprising. The Iranian youth cinema, created by a generation whose passion for civility and fairness has surpassed any others in our vast and diverse socio-cultural history, however, has been largely ignored.
The Iranian youth cinema confronts us with some of the most existential elements of our daily lives. It places a tall mirror before us through which we travel to the most inner parts of ourselves, re-evaluating our beliefs and behaviors. It reminds us of the function of art as tool for personal and social dialogue. But this creative, active and exceptional cinema has yet to find its justified place among veteran filmmakers. Perhaps, we, my generation, has not done all it could to promote these films. Thus, here we are, among a treasure of visual poetry that has remained hidden, unseen, or at best, less visible.
Therefore, while welcoming you to this first year of Festival Cinema Invisible, I invite you to sit back and enjoy these 34 cinematic beauties created by our youth and presented here over the next four days.