TEHRAN, IRAN | One day I will visit Iran. This almost happened several years ago when I received an invitation to visit the Fajr International Theater Festival, until political opposition in the U.S. against Iran grew to a fever pitch, making many cultural visits to that country difficult.
For those in the know, the months of January and February are traditionally the most culturally rewarding for international visitors, as I am reminded by the announcement that next year’s 31th Fajr theater festival will take place from January 15 through February 1, 2023 in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
Several theater ensembles from around the world are being programmed to take part in the 31th edition of Fajr International Theater Festival in the Iranian capital of Tehran. Of these international submissions, the Fajr’s selection committee told Iran Daily, that nine of the theater companies will come from Italy.
Ardeshir Salehpour, Farshid Ebrahimian, Mohammad Baqer Qahremani, Ismail Alizad, Hossein Mosafer Astaneh and Farindokht Zahedi are this year’s selection committee members.
Some 106 performances from Iran and other countries are programmed to be presented at the year’s festival, Iran Daily added. The 31th edition of the Fajr International Theater Festival offers a trove of film, theater, music and visual arts, all of which are presented every year to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In a press conference at the headquarters of the 31st Fajr International Theatre Festival, the judge of the playwriting competition Borhani-marand stated that he hopes that Iranian plays, which are mostly unknown, will be given an opportunity by Iranian government officials to be published and thus be better known: “The works of the play-writing competition were about today’s social issues in the most modern form. I hope that all of them will be published. The release of such kind of works can enrich our stage. I hope that the officials will play more attention to today’s playwrights.”
In an interestingly related bit of arts-diplomacy news, the Tehran Times reported that a producer has called on Iranian cultural officials to accept the Russian culture minster’s proposal to introduce Iranian films in Russian textbooks.
“The Iranian cinema is well-known, and it has the potential to be introduced more in the other countries,” Ali Mo’allem told the Persian service of the ISNA on Monday. “However, this capability has been lost due to the state’s negligence in the international distribution of films even in neighboring countries,” he added.
Mo’allem called the Russian culture minster’s proposal an opportunity and asked the Iranian officials not to ruin “a good opportunity gained for Iranian cinema, like holding many small film weeks in foreign countries.”
The proposal was put forward during a meeting between Russia’s Minster of Culture Vladimir Medinsky and his Iranian counterpart Mohammdad Hosseini in Tehran on Saturday. A delegation led by Medinsky arrived in Tehran on Friday to sign a protocol on organizing a Russian cultural week in Tehran in 2013.
One preliminary conclusion one might get from this juxtaposition of two Iranian cultural news stories is that while Iranian politicians continue to invite International arts group (Russians and Italians, in this case) into their country, their commitment to their own native Iranian artistic culture seems to be short-sighted and negligent. For it is not just the legacy of Iranian films that is at stake, Iranian performing arts remain a blank canvas outside of the annual Fajr festivities. -rg, in the theater of One World
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