Tabesh: Despite All Difficulties in Corona Times, Cinema is Alive

‘Virtual screening of the films says to the world that, despite all difficulties, cinema is alive’, said Farabi Cinematic Foundation Managing Director, Alireza Tabesh.

According to Faratitr, COVID-19 outbreak has hugely impacted global economy and caused various problems in different sectors. Culture and art were not exceptions either, and cinema and filmmaking industry has been hit hardest among others. The pandemic resulted in theatre and cinema closures everywhere around the world, including Iran. Although attempts have been made to reopen a limited number of movie theaters and some films have been virtually screened, the cinema people are not satisfied yet.

In an interview with Farabi Cinematic Foundation Managing Director and the 33rd ICFF Director, Alireza Tabesh, the Faratitr correspondent asked about the present condition of movie theatres and how this edition of 33rd ICFF would be held:

F: At the moment, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, how is the condition of cinema in Iran?

Tabesh: The virus is an unpredictable phenomenon and it has been affecting all aspects of life around the world as well as in Iran for nearly 8 months; and no one knows for how much longer we have to deal with it. That means that we should keep maintaining the protocols to prevent the spread of the virus and try to adapt to the new normal. In Iran, just like many other countries of the world, the movie theatres could not screen their films at the right time and they are not as profitable as they used to be. However, the circumstances have made us reach for new possibilities and potentials for screening the films. Virtual film screening is one of those possibilities. It says to the world that, despite all difficulties, cinema is alive.

F: Given the current situation, how are the upcoming film festivals going to be held?

Tabesh: Film festivals, as significant platforms for introducing cinematic works, should be held and keep running through using new technologies and innovative methods. The owners of the works, artists and filmmakers should be provided with the opportunity to introduce their latest works; therefore, it has been decided that this edition of the festival should be held virtually. Then our experience in that regard can be studied, and based on the results, we can make the right decisions for the other festivals. Of course, the traditional festivals will not be totally substituted by the virtual ones, but it seems that with the situation we are dealing with now and our new experiences, we will face a new generation of film festivals which have their own novel world. We hope that with the help of these experiences our festivals in the future will be held more efficiently and with higher quality.

F: As the festival is being held virtually, what measures have you taken to protect the cinematic works from cyber theft?

Tabesh: Movie theft is an ugly issue which unfortunately exists and is not limited to our country; it is a universal problem, and here in Iran, the Secretariat of the ICFF along with Farabi Foundation and other institutions and authorities like Iranian Cyber Police and Iranian Department for Protection of Audio-Visual Works are trying to help with this issue. All participants in the virtual section of the festival have expressed their agreement for the screening of their works with complete knowledge of the conditions. As a motivation the filmmakers will be paid screening fees depending on the length of their works, and the revenue after 6 days of virtual screening will go back to the film owners.

F: How do you think the process of filmmaking is going to be carried out in Iran as the virus continues to spread?

Tabesh: Filmmaking is in progress everywhere in the country along with maintaining the healthcare protocols. During the previous months, in spite of the disease, the process of film production was a satisfactory one, and we hope that this will continue in future months in private sector and other parts as well.

F: How is this edition of ICFF going to be held in the coming days?

Tabesh: 107 films classified into 39 boxes will be virtually screened from 18 to 23 October, everyday from 2 A.M. to 10 P.M. through Namava, Filimo and Tiva platforms; and as the festival is being held online, the jury members from every corner of the country can watch and judge the films free from charge. The Educational Workshops are going to be presented through Tiva platform and many other programs related to the subsections of the festival will also be presented virtually from Tehran and Isfahan. The 4th Youth Filmmaking Olympiad of Iran is another event which is taking place along with the 33rd ICFF with mentors, trainers and young adult audience from different parts of the country.

Due to the outbreak of the new Corona Virus, based on the multilateral agreement made by the Iranian Cinema Organization, Farabi Cinematic Foundation and Isfahan Municipality, this edition of the festival will be held virtually from October 18 to 23, 2020 under the supervision of Alireza Tabesh.

The Festival will be organized in a competitive format in two different sections; Iranian Cinema Competition and International Cinema Competition.