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LA film Fest - THE MISSION By Parviz Sayyad

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:09 am    Post subject: LA film Fest - THE MISSION By Parviz Sayyad Reply with quote

Support Your fellow Freedom-loving Iranian Actor and Director Parviz Sayyad

Friday, June 23, 6:30 pm @ UCLA James Bridges Theater

1983, 35mm, Persian with English subtitles, 107 min.

LA film Fest
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 20:40:00 -0700

LA International

3 Los Angeles Filmmakers You Should Know
Presented by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Los Angeles Film Festival

“LA International” makes visible a Los Angeles legacy hidden to many Angelenos, highlighting a trio of émigré directors—Parviz Sayyad, the late Shin Sang-ok (sadly deceased this April) and Cecile Tang Shu-shuen—who are quite possibly the most important Los Angeles filmmakers you may not have heard of. Pioneers who have indelibly influenced the cinemas of their places of origin—Iran, South Korea and Hong Kong respectively—they have also, by choice or necessity, led transnational and entrepreneurial careers that defy easy categorization. Perhaps their interstitial position—standing astride professional, cultural and political boundaries—accounts for their relative anonymity outside the ethnic communities of the city they now call or once called home. “LA International” pays long overdue homage to these eminent filmmakers in our midst and, regrettably in Shin’s case, formerly in our midst.

—Cheng-Sim Lim, Program Curator

Parviz Sayyad

A leading director, screenwriter, actor and producer in Iran before the 1979 Revolution, Sayyad created one of the emblematic characters of the Iranian popular cinema of the 1970s: “Samad,” a country bumpkin flummoxed by the ways of the big city. Sayyad himself played the character on TV and in nine feature films over ten years. His commercial success with “Samad” and other projects allowed Sayyad to produce riskier “art films” by the auteurs of the Iranian New Wave of the ’60s and ’70s, including such seminal titles as STILL LIFE (1974) by Sohrab Shahid Saless, and THE CYCLE (1974/1978) by Dariush Mehrjui. The last film Sayyad directed in Iran before going into exile, DEAD END (1977), has the double distinction of being banned by the Shah and the post-Revolutionary Islamic government. In exile, Sayyad wrote, directed and produced the critically lauded THE MISSION (1983) and CHECKPOINT (1987). Now based in Los Angeles, he tours internationally with the Traveling Theatrical Troupe, which he founded, while also producing and starring in his own weekly Persian-language TV show, broadcast worldwide on satellite TV.

Friday, June 23, 6:30 pm @ UCLA James Bridges Theater



1983, 35mm, Persian with English subtitles, 107 min.

DIR/PROD/SCR/ED Parviz Sayyad

Cine Reza Aria. CAST Houshang Touzie, Kamran Nozad, Parviz Sayyad, Mary Apick.

A political thriller shot entirely in and around New York City, THE MISSION was the first feature directed by Parviz Sayyad following his exile from post-Revolution Iran. The film stars Houshang Touzie as an Islamic revolutionary who undergoes a crisis of conscience when he is sent to assassinate an erstwhile colonel in the Shah’s secret police. Sayyad himself plays the former SAVAK official, while the director’s longtime collaborator Mary Apick appears as a beautiful émigré student harshly critical of the Khomeini regime.

At once gripping, thoughtful, and leavened by bits of comedy, THE MISSION combines narrative tension with a naturalistic depiction of quotidian life among Iranian exiles displaced to early-’80s America. Duly feted at international festivals and hailed by western critics, the film was widely considered an important work: “a masterpiece,” raved the LA Weekly, by no less than “Iran’s answer to Orson Welles and Woody Allen,” while David Denby of New York Magazine called Sayyad’s film “the first Gandhian thriller.”

—Jesse Zigelstein

Shin Sang-ok

He has been named one of the three pillars of South Korean cinema (along with Im Kwon-taek and Yu Hyun-mok). The Guardian has also dubbed him “South Korea’s Orson Welles.” In a career of over 40 years marked by spectacular highs and lows, this Korean film legend has been a consistent innovator. He was the first person to found and run an independent studio in South Korea (subsequently closed by the South Korean government in 1978). He is credited with introducing CinemaScope, the telephoto lens and synchronized sound to the Korean film industry. In the repressive social climate of the ’50s-’70s, he made films that were charged with eroticism. Whether costume action epic, romantic melodrama or contemporary thriller, Shin’s films fused visual lyricism with sharp social critique. In 1978 he and his wife, renowned Korean actress Choi Eun-hee, were kidnapped on orders from North Korea’s cinephiliac President-in-training, Kim Jong-il. Shin made seven movies while captive in Pyongyang. The couple escaped to Vienna in 1986 and settled in Los Angeles, where they lived for more than 10 years before returning to South Korea.

Saturday, June 24, 7:00 pm @ UCLA James Bridges Theater



South Korea

1961, 35mm, Korean with English subtitles, 103 min.

DIR/PROD Shin Sang-ok

SCRS: Ju Yo-seob, Lim Hee-jae. Cine Choi Su-yeong. ED Yang Seong-ran. CAST Kim Jin-kyu, Choi Eun-hee, Kim Hee-gap, Do Keum-bong.

A classic of South Korea’s Golden Age cinema of the 1950s and ’60s, MY MOTHER AND HER GUEST centers on repressed female sexuality, a recurring theme in the “women’s pictures” of Shin Sang-ok’s early career as a director. Shin’s wife and frequent filmmaking cohort Choi Eun-hee plays a young widow living with her similarly widowed mother-in-law and maid in a small provincial town during the 1920s. When a handsome artist rents a room in her house, she is torn between her growing feelings for the man and adherence to a strict code of moral conduct, which the film quietly unravels as ordained through traditional gender roles, observance of middle class decorum and Protestant conservatism.

Based on a novel by Chu Yo-sup and beautifully filtered through the perspective of the protagonist’s little daughter, MY MOTHER AND HER GUEST reveals “something of Shin’s childhood admiration for the films of Marcel Carné and Jean Renoir.” (The Village Voice) And in its fusion of understated style and subtly subversive commentary, the film stands in counterpoint to the director’s provocatively lurid explorations of female sexual-political subjugation in such prior and later films as A FLOWER IN HELL (1958) and EUNUCH (1968).

—Jesse Zigelstein


She made only four features from 1969 to 1979 before retiring from filmmaking and becoming a restaurateur (of the now-shuttered Joss on Sunset Boulevard) in Los Angeles. But as a precursor to the Hong Kong New Wave of the late ’70s and ’80s, T’ang’s influence belies her modest output. Raised in Hong Kong and Taiwan, T’ang studied film at USC. Her debut feature THE ARCH (1969) immediately cast her as an artistic and socially conscious iconoclast in the Hong Kong film scene of the time. Her second feature CHINA BEHIND, set during the Cultural Revolution and completed in 1974, was banned in Hong Kong until 1987. Since then both works have found their way onto critics’ lists of the best 100 Chinese films. In 1975 Tang created Close-Up Film B-Weekly, the first Hong Kong magazine dedicated to the discussion of film culture and film art. Close-Up Film Bi-Weekly proved prescient in identifying the nascent Hong Kong New Wave among young directors then working primarily in TV, and helped nurture the movement in its formative years.

Sunday, June 25, 7:00 pm @ UCLA James Bridges Theater



Hong Kong

1969, 35mm, Mandarin with English subtitles, 95 min.


CINE Chi H’u-che, Subrata Mitra. EDS: Les Blank, C.C. See. CAST Lisa Lu, Roy Chiao, Zhou Xuan, Li Ying.

Cecile T’ang Shu-shuen, working under the nom de plume Shu Shuen, launched an uncommon ten-year run as an independent filmmaker in the decidedly commercialized world of the Hong Kong film industry of the ’60s and ’70s with this expressively stylized period drama about illicit female desire. THE ARCH stars Lisa Lu as a dutiful Ming Dynasty widow forbidden by feudal custom to act on her requited attraction for the virile soldier (Roy Chiao) boarding in her home. Instead she arranges for the man to marry her daughter (Zhou Xuan), and the local townsfolk reward her by erecting an arch in honor of her supreme virtue and propriety.

Photographed in part by Subrata Mitra, Satyajit Ray’s longtime cinematographer, and co-edited by the redoubtable Les Blank, THE ARCH became the first modern Chinese film to win international acclaim. It enjoyed a successful theatrical release in Paris, where France-Nouvelle declared it “a revelation thanks to its sensibility, its neo-realism and its director's discretion.” While freeze-frames, jump cuts and other nouvelle vague techniques signal the film’s formal experimentation, director Shu Shuen’s examination of Confucian mores is utterly unflinching.

—Jesse Zigelstein
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