Bahman Ghobadi’s cinema paints a vivid portrait of Iranian society as well as of the individuals who comprise it. As an exile, Ghobadi experiences loss, uprooting, and the deep need to return to his roots, cinematically. Kurdish culture, music, traditions – they all emerge from his films, sensitively, realistically, yet also dreamily evoked. At the same time, concepts such as life, death, and love cross paths and are often reborn from inside one another.
Ghobadi belongs to those bold voices that touch upon questions of history, identity, social stratification and political convictions. Through his lens, he depicts human reality in all its dimensions: vulnerable, in flux, complex, ominous, hopeful. His heroes, be they national minorities or abandoned children, walk the margins of life, yet without giving in to what life might bring. They draw strength from their sense of justice, from popular wisdom and the need to maintain their dignity and transcend the things that oppress them. In Ghobadi’s stories, little is said and much is meant. His stylistic approach combines semi-documentary elements, allegorical, poetic images and symbolisms. Every tile has been carefully placed in the mosaic of his filmic world. All together, they create a distinctive, personal cinema and promises of a long and exciting career.
Istanbul, October 17th, 2012
These are trying times for Greece. Times in which we are reminded of the delicate interplay of forces in the world, of how the slightest wavering of their balance can have heavy consequences for a whole people, and put so many at a disadvantage. In the face of such adversity it sometimes seems we are not strong enough to take on the obstacles put in our path by powers beyond our reach. And yet I am constantly amazed at how much humans can endure and how they can flourish in the most challenging conditions, defying all odds. It is this kind of strength, mustered from the core of our humanity, that has always fascinated me in my life, and that I have always tried to portray in my work.
The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is an excellent example of this feat. In spite of the arduous financial conditions, it brings to us an event that still offers a safe space for observing, for sharing, and for celebrating the human. The collective work put into organizing such an event, driven by passion and empathy, proves to us how ready we all are to still fight for a forum where voices can be heard. Voices that remind us of our strength, and breathe dignity back into our moments of weakness.
I would in particular like to thank Dimitri Eipides. His unflinching determination to support filmmakers regardless of their background and conditions, cherishing their honesty and courage first, reassures us that there is still room for cinema that does not discriminate, that embraces us in all shapes and forms. It can carry those voices the world over. And even if they dissipate into the tiniest murmurs, their breeze can be enough to sweep some forces back towards the right balance.
For this year’s Thessaloniki Film Festival, I wish you all the support you may need, many touching moments,
and many, many winds.