Fifi Howls from Happiness

by Mitra Farahani

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When Mitra Farahani finds the renowned Iranian painter Bahman Mohassess, who went into voluntary exile in Rome in the post-revolutionary period, she is unaware that she will be filming the last months of his life. The man, taken for dead by most people, demonstrates a Pasolini-like mix of vivacity and despair, as embodied by his work, “Fifi Howls from Happiness”, one of the few paintings he did not destroy. “We built and we destroyed, leaving the world with nothing but a sad song”; the artist quotes the words of Marino Marini to the filmmaker, punctuating their fragile and poignant relationship. Mohassess treats the film-in-the-making as a self-portrait that is under his own control. When Faharani introduces him to two artists who commission a painting from him, she is treading in Balzac’s footsteps since the undertaking has all the makings of “The Unknown Masterpiece.” Two story lines come to a close with what the artist would triumphantly call his “final performance.”

Director: Mitra Farahani
Producer: Marjaneh Moghimi
Executive Producer: Fereydoun Firouz
Music: Tara Kamangar
Editor: Yanick Kergoat
Sound: Amir Hossein Ghasemi
Sales: Urban Distribution International and Music Box Films

Running Time: 96 minutes/USA/France
In Farsi with English/French subtitles

Theatrical Screenings in France
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Theatrical Screenings in the United States

Lincoln Plaza – New York – August 8th
Royal Theater – Los Angeles – August 15th
Cinema Village – New York – August 15th
Town Center 5 – Encino – Los Angeles – August 15th
Laemmle’s Town Center 5 – Los Angeles – August 29th
Taos Center for the Arts – Taos – August 31st
The Screen – Santa Fe – September 12th
Guild Cinema – Albuquerque – September 26th

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Official Selection: 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival 2014, Telluride Film Festival 2013, 51st New York Film Festival 2013, Outfest 2014, Vancouver Film Festival 2013,

Winner: Scam International Award, Cinema du reel, 2013
Winner: Grand prize at Escales Documentaires: Association La Rochelle, 2013
Winner: Buenos Aires Film Festival, 2014

Mitra Farahani
Mitra was born in Tehran in 1975. She studied painting and drawing with various Iranian masters of pictorial art, notably with Gholam Hossein Nami. After receiving a degree in graphic art at the Azad University in Tehran, she moved to Paris and took up residence in the Cite Internationale des Arts. In 2001, she began a course of video studies at the Ecole Natioanale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, where she made her first documentary entitled “Just a Woman”. The film was chosen for Berlin Film Festival and was awarded the Teddy Awards Special Jury Prize. Her documentary “Zohre and Manouchehr” (Taboos) was presented at the Berlin Film Festival of 2004 and was later shown in cinemas in France and Canada. In 2005 she made the documentary “Behjat Sadr: Suspended Time”, a portrait of one of the pioneers of abstract expressionist painting in Iran. In 2009, as part of the Three Continents Festival, Le Lieu Unique in Nantes presented her one-person multi-disciplinary exhibition. Her latest documentary film, Fifi Howls from Happiness, on painter Bahman Mohassess, premiered at the 2013 Berlin and Telluride film Festival.

Marjaneh Moghimi
Marjaneh is the founder of Butimar Productions and has produced numerous award-wining documentaries with acclaimed directors such as Michael Apted, Bahman Kiarostami, Justine Shapiro, and Mitra Farahani.  Her latest collaboration was with renowned director Bahram Beyzaie on his shadow-play Jana and Baladoor.

Fereydoun Firouz
Fereydoun Firouz is an entrepreneur and an avid lover and supporter of Iranian artistic and cultural heritage.

Arnaud Belangeon-Bouaziz
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