by Afrasiab Khod Siani
A look at the performance of one of the most renowned and lucrative producers of professional cinema in support of youthful directors and first graders
Mehdi Moniri: Producer, project manager and film investor
At the beginning of this article, I should mention that the first graders through the production of fabulous opuses during the recent periods of the Fajr Film Festival glittered really brightly so that they have gained the support and accompaniment of cinematic experienced people.
It is several years now that despite veterans’ presence in different periods of Fajr Film Festival, the first graders have often surprised critics, cinemagoers and audiences. In recent years, the curiosity to watch their works is no less than watching the latest production of a sophisticated and popular filmmaker. It has been even possible that the works of the directors of the first graders become the phenomena of the festivals because of which many of them quickly climbed the ladder up.
Perhaps the talent and astonishment of these young filmmakers have brought more and more the very confidence to the investors and producers. Hence, the names of reputable filmmakers like “Mehdi Moniri” are more prominent on the foreheads of these recent films.
23 out of 62 films which were admitted in the 39th Fajr Film Festival had been shot by first graders. Some of which had experienced the presence of well- known and cultured producers such as Mehdi Moniri. Moreover, by announcing the names of the admitted films competing for the Simorgh Soda section then (the main competition in Iran’s cinema), some of those films such as “Selfi with Democracy” directed by Ali Atshani and “Samurai in Berlin” directed by Abolfazl Saffari had been invested and produced by Mehdi Moniri.
With this in mind, I should say that the presence of reputable investors and producers such as Moniri, who have trusted the first graders, is not so much in this list. Producers, who, on the one hand, fulfill their main mission which is to produce grandeur films, and, on the other hand, pave the way through taking risks like trusting the younger ones, are deserved to be rewarded as well as awarded. They, in fact, establish rails towards professional cinema.
Mehdi Moniri, who is one of the most active producers of cinema, participated in the 40th festival with his three films last year. His three films which would like to be present in the festival are “Papery Dream”, “Luther” and “Saver”. Interestingly, all his three opuses existed in the list of admitted films. The last film was related to the director of the first film (Papery Dream) who has also
been one of the active filmmakers in the short film sector and has entered to production domain by Mehdi Moniri.
Regarding the production of Mehdi Moniri, I should mention that there are more than 16 movies in his career. He has been nominated for Simorgh Best Film in four seasons of Fajr Film Festival and in the 32nd season of the festival, he has won a special jury award for the film “President’s Mobile Phone”.
His most significant films include “The First Birth”, “The President’s Mobile Phone”, “Along the City”, “Commander”, and “Mr. A”, “Democracy in Bright Day” ,” Papery Dream “, and “Luther”. Taking a brief look at the most honorable films of the last decade of Iran’s cinema, will surely illustrates the name of “Mehdi Moniri” in some significant, stocked-out and controversial works of these years as a producer, investor and performer. Moniri is one of the prestigious and effective cinema producers; it is due to the valuable and ever-lasting works in Iran’s cinema. It is also for his endeavors on documentaries as the basis of the first fiction cinema. There are more than thirty-six feature films and documentaries in his career. Meanwhile, the producer has also had a hand in the box office and making best-selling films so that some of his works have been sold out films at the time of their release.
Although he has won various awards from the best domestic and foreign festivals, his full and comprehensive support with all his knowledge and capital for young filmmakers and new directors will always remain on the history of Iranian cinema.
In the 2010s (1390 Persian year), new producers and works appeared in Iran’s cinema, each of which talked of the social, historical and cultural issues of Iran with a different perspective. Looking at the produced works in this decade, it can be easily found that there are some investors and producers whose impact on the flow of this art in the country is an undeniable fact.
Mehdi Moniri; from compiling in professional cinema to streaming in experimental cinema
Iran’s cinema experienced various ups and downs in the 2010/1390s. Lots of these matters happened to it- from forced closures to various international awards. During this decade, young directors and producers who were able to radiate emerged. They became popular among ordinary interlocutors as well as won the reviewers’ hearts. Mehdi Moniri, as an idea man, investor and producer, is one of these influential and prominent individuals. It was during the very decade when Iranian cinema won its second Oscar with “Seller”.
This Oscar revealed the influence of Asghar Farhadi’s cinema on young filmmakers. There have been some young ones who stepped on the stage as either authors or directors or producers. Although the long way for permission and various licenses besides restrictions had blocked the required basements to
make the film, these barriers could not prevent the production of brilliant opuses in Iran’s cinema. Now, on the beginning of the National Day of Iranian Cinema, we can proudly say that a generation of these young people has entered the campaign- some as directors and some as producers who generously invested in this sector.
While writing this article, I tried to clarify various elements including the impact of the film on the audience and the body of cinema, creating a new style and innovation, and international and domestic success.
It must be acknowledged that none of these arise unless an intelligent and thoughtful producer is always present to create valuable and ever-lasting works through localizing the new knowledge of filmmaking. Mehdi Moniri has been one of these producers whose films have been always received well by the audience.
What are evident in his films are an explicit narration of cities’ poor neighborhoods, the traumatized children, and the constant barriers of the deprived class of society that none of them contributes to comfort and happiness. Mehdi Moniri has shown in all his experiences that he is a producer with a special style who in the future may be one of the most well-known producers in the world.
In my view, Mehdi Moniri could be considered a new event in Iranian cinema; his productions are always different than other films; in addition to dealing with social or real issues, they also follow a highly interesting story. His films mostly utilize cool storytelling; they also absorb cinema critics’ attention. The constructive and crucial performance of a well-known and concerned producer could often be felt and admired in this producer’s films as he proves his abilities in a role with new features.
At the end of this article, it should be noted that in the films made by Moniri, it is often evident that we are dealing with a varying work. There is sometimes a dark and bitter, sometimes bright but painful film that has a different form of narration. His films are always a footprint in Iran’s cinema like the footprints on the snow which has not fallen down yet. It means he moves ahead of its time. As a result, he should be considered a compiler producer. His works have a date as well as a signature as they talk of the story of humanity, feeling guilty, poverty, crime, retribution and punishment. In his films, technique was always served the script; the story was narrated in its best way.
Therefore, let’s try to get together whatever we have in our wealth to save investors and producers like Mehdi Moniri as a valuable select for the vision of Iranian cinema.
Afrasiab Khod Siani / Cinema Instructor