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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 3, 2010

IWP's Cinematheque opens with acclaimed Iranian film Sept. 8

The Cinematheque series of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) will open with a free screening of the 2004 Iranian film "Turtles Can Fly," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, in Room E105 of the Adler Journalism Building on the UI campus.

The film will be introduced by Farangis Siahpoor from Iran, one of the 38 writers in residence this fall at the IWP.

The work was written and directed by the Kurdish-Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, with theme music by Hossein Alizadeh. It was the first film made in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The film is set in a Kurdish refugee camp on the Iraqi-Turkish border on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Thirteen-year-old Satellite is known for his installation of dishes and antennae for local villages who are looking for news of Saddam Hussein and for his limited knowledge of English. He is the dynamic but manipulative leader of the children, organizing the dangerous but necessary sweeping and clearing of the minefields.

The industrious Satellite arranges trade-ins for unexploded mines. He falls for Agrin, a sad-faced orphan traveling with her disabled brother Henkov, who appears to have the gift of clairvoyance. The siblings care for a blind toddler, who is the son of young Agrin, who was raped several years before.

One critic observed, "The performances delivered by the children are nothing short of astounding. In the lead, Soran Ebrahim is in parts a mixture of caprice, zest and energy, and it is he who grasps our heart and makes for the first, slightly more light-hearted part of the film. In a completely different role, Avaz Latif is the film's heartbreak, and the one that endures the worst. Her performance is wordless, but she manages to portray all her deepest emotions through a look or gesture. When we delve deeper into the plot to realize exactly how much her character has suffered, it is then that the horror of war kicks in."

Siahpoor has written, directed and produced several films. Her credits include work as editor, cinematographer, producer, production designer and script supervisor. She has served as a referee for film festivals at Tehran University, and she is the author of a collection of short stories and a play. She is at the IWP through the support of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Founded in 1967, the IWP was the first international writers residency at a university, and it remains unique in world literature.

The IWP introduces talented writers to American life; enables them to take part in American university life; and provides them with time, in a setting congenial to their efforts, for the production of literary work. Since 1967, more than 1,200 writers from more than 130 countries have attended the IWP, including Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Many of the writers are supported through the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassies, while others are funded through a variety of foundations, government councils and bilateral agreements.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013,