Key takeaways

  • The UCLA Film & Television Archive series takes place over the last three weekends in June.
  • The free screenings are open to the public.
  • Highlights include the world premiere of the Archive-restored version of “The Sealed Soil,” along with an in-person conversation with the filmmaker, Marva Nabili. 

The UCLA Film & Television Archive will showcase the best of Iranian and Iranian diaspora filmmaking with its Celebration of Iranian Cinema 2024 series, which runs over  three weekends, from June 14 to 30.

With a diverse selection of feature-length and short films that bridge cultural divides and shed light on the human experience, the series champions the work of new and emerging directors while honoring the rich history of Iranian cinema and the resilience, creativity and artistic vision of Iranian filmmakers.

The series kicks off June 14 with the documentary “Joonam” (U.S., 2023), directed by Sierra Urich, which poignantly traces her family’s history through three generations of Iranian women; Urich and the film’s executive producers — filmmaker Liam LoPinto and filmmaker and actor Arian Moayed — will attend in person. The world premiere of the Archive’s restoration of “The Sealed Soil” (Iran, 1977) takes place June 15, accompanied by an in-person conversation with director Marva Nabili. This groundbreaking film, long thought to have been lost, explores themes of female resistance and remains a significant contribution to Iranian cinema and culture.

The following weekend features writer-director Ali Zarnegar’s high-tension thriller “Cause of Death: Unknown” (Iran, 2023) on June 21, which follows a passenger van carrying a diverse group of travelers on a cross-country journey to Tehran. Writer-director Parviz Shahbazi’s “Roxana” (Iran, 2023), about young Iranians struggling to find their way in a world where one misstep can have dire consequences, screens June 22, followed on June 23 by writer-director Behrooz Karamizade’s gripping feature debut “Empty Nets” (Germany / Iran 2023), which explores the rough-and-tumble world of caviar smuggling.

The final weekend features “Achilles” (Iran / Germany / France, 2023), directed by Farhad Delaram, on June 28; this story of perseverance and resistance follows a man finding a path back to life through his shared experiences with a political prisoner. Director Karim Lakzadeh’s independent film “Dark Matter” (Iran, 2023), screening June 29, combines elements of the French New Wave and Jim Jarmusch’s style with wildly unexpected, and welcome, results. The series concludes June 30 with the Sundance award–winning “In the Land of Brothers” (France / Iran / Netherlands, 2024), directed by Alireza Ghasemi and Raha Amirfazli, which presents three interconnected episodes of an Afghan refugee family’s generational struggle to make a home in Iran.

“The resilience of Iranian filmmakers — indeed, of every Iranian fighting for freedom and freedom of expression in the face of ever-mounting repression since the advent of the Women, Life, Freedom movement in 2022 — has been awe-inspiring,” said Paul Malcolm, senior public programmer at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. “We are once again honored to be able to share their voices with our audience at the Billy Wilder Theater with this year’s selections.”

The series is funded by the Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to Iranian art and culture.

"Farhang Foundation is honored to be the sole sponsor of the UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema film series, a remarkable event that highlights the richness and diversity of Iranian cinema,” said Alireza Ardekani, the foundation’s executive director. “This long partnership reflects our commitment to promoting Iranian art and culture and providing a platform for voices from our community. We're thrilled to support a program that continues to inspire, enlighten and connect audiences with the vibrant world of Iranian filmmaking."

Films in Persian will include English subtitles.

In-person screenings are held at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum. All programs are free through June 2024, thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor.

For more information, including program and admission details, please visit Schedules and guest speakers are subject to change.