The man who made the greatest films you have never seen

An illustrated report on Mohammad Ali Talebi's first UK tour

The great Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Ali Talebi’s first trip to UK, under the auspices of the British Council, and the UK-wide tour of his three cinematic masterpieces came to an end yesterday, when Talebi left for Iran.

Appearing in four major venues in UK and talking to at least two sold-out cinemas during the tour, Talebi shared his passion for children cinema with the audience and explained how he gets such brilliant performances from child actors.

As a part of the Cinema of Childhood tour, Talebi not only participated in Q&A sessions after the screening of Willow and Wind (which received a 5-star review from the Guardian) and Bag of Rice, but also talked to young filmmakers of National Film and Television School and young film programmers in Edinburgh among quite a few other events.

The first stop on the tour was the BFI Southbank, where Talebi was greeted with rapturous applause by a sell-out audience.

At BFI. Photo by Paria Kamyab

At BFI with Mark Cousins. Photo by Paria Kamyab

Two days later, Bag of Rice was shown at the Art Picturehouse in Cambridge, where shortly after the screening, Toby Miller who was in charge of Q&A tweeted:

 

Talebi on the rooftop of Art Picturehouse, Cambridge. Photo by Jack Toye.

Talebi on the rooftop of Art Picturehouse, Cambridge. Photo by Jack Toye.

An extended stay in Edinburgh was marked by a sold-out screening of Willow and Wind at Filmhouse. A review of the film on MyFilms, an Edinburgh blog, reads:

“In Willow and Wind director Mohammad Ali-Talebi takes a pane of glass and uses it to present us with something greater…almost metaphysical.  The glass is a means of confronting us with the challenges that each of us faces in our lives…What follows is, in all probability, one of the greatest films you have never seen.”

Also the former director of both Edinburgh Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival, Jim Hickey tweeted:

At Filmhouse with Mark Cousins and Nacin Pak-Shiraz (translator). Photo by Fayaz Alibhai.

At Filmhouse with Mark Cousins and Nacin Pak-Shiraz (translator). Photo by Fayaz Alibhai.

And finally on the way back to the south, Watershed in Bristol screened Willow and Wind, where Talebi explained to the audience that no greenscreen technology exists in Iran, so every bit of Willow and Wind is really acted and filmed!

Willow and Wind which is called by Little White Lies “a quiet, delicately drawn epic quest story” continues to play around UK.

On stage at Watershed, Bristol with Gaia Meucci and Ehsan Khoshbakht. Photo by Tommy Curtis.

On stage at Watershed, Bristol with Gaia Meucci and Ehsan Khoshbakht. Photo by Tommy Curtis.

Speaking of the resilience of the boy in Willow and Wind, Talebi calls it something of an autobiographical authenticity. Even the master of children cinema, while in Scotland, recreated a scene of the film with a small piece of glass! The picture below shows him on the windy hills, near Bridge of Allan, where the Iranian maestro reminds us how in his hands the simple, insignificant objects of daily life turn into forceful narrative devices.

Photo by Ehsan Khoshbakht

Photo by Ehsan Khoshbakht

 

The film of Mohammad Ali Talebi in UK cinemas:

Bag of Rice
Filmhouse, April 20 and 27
Dundee Contemporary Arts, April 20
Watershed, April 22
QUAD, April 29
Eden Court Theatre, May 10 and 12
Showroom, July 5

The Boot
BFI Southbank, April 20
Filmhouse, April 20 and 26
Watershed, April 24
Irish Film Institute, April 27
Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, May 3
Eden Court Theatre, August 9 and 11
Dundee Contemporary Arts, April 27
The Proud Archivist, July 23
Showroom, July 14

Willow and Wind
Chapter Arts Centre, April 20 and 22
The Roses Theatre, April 22
Glasgow Film Theatre, April 27
Belmont Cinema, May 3 and 5
Cornerhouse, May 6
The Courtyard, May 10 and 12
Duke of Yorks Picturehouse, May 19
Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, May 31
Queen’s Film Theatre, June 1
Showroom, July 20
Dundee Contemporary Arts, July 27

 

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