FCI 2014



Making the Impossible

This interview started with the objective of introducing Festival Cinema Invisible to Iranian, and Middle Eastern independent filmmakers.  Yet it quickly expanded into a much longer conversation that encompasses many other motives and causes, which go well beyond a film festival. [click for the complete post]



2014 Festival Location

The GE Theatre at Proctors is a multi-purpose space, often referred to as a “black box” theatre, with 436 retractable theatre seats and a 35’ x 50’ screen.This theatre features Bigger, Bolder, Better GIANT-Screen movies and Proctors ilearn programs for school children.

The GE Theatre is completely wheelchair accessible with its flat floor and has built-in hearing stations. The space is also available for smaller cabaret events, educational performance programs, lectures, trade shows, fundraising functions, etc.



What is invisible cinema

Here we define the boundaries and limitations of what we label as Invisible Cinema, through which FCI hopes to initiate an artistic and intellectual exchange with film experts and interested viewers in order to further explore the breadth and depth of this genre. [click for the complete post]



2014 Festival Guests: ROB EDELMAN

Edelman-RobertROB EDELMAN teaches film history courses at the University at Albany (SUNY), is a longtime Contributing Editor of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, and offers film commentary on WAMC (Northeast) Public Radio; his work may be found on the WAMC web site.

He presents lectures in the Speakers in the Humanities program, sponsored by the New York State Council for the Humanities, and has coauthored (with his wife, Audrey Kupferberg) several books, including Matthau: A Life; Meet the Mertzes, a double biography of Vivian Vance and William Frawley; and Angela Lansbury: A Life on Stage and Screen. Other books include Great Baseball Films and Baseball on the Web (which Amazon.com cited as a Top 10 Internet book); and he is a frequent contributor to Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, edited by John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball. He is the editor of Issues on Trial: Freedom of the Press and a Contributing Editor of Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin’s Family Film Guide, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. His byline has appeared in many reference books (including A Political Companion to American Film, International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Women Filmmakers and Their Films, Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond, and St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture) and dozens of periodicals.



2014 Festival Guests: LIZ RICHARDS

LizRichardsLIZ RICHARDS is a filmmaker and video installation artist whose work focuses on the intersection of physical process and concept. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Millersville University, an MA in Women’s Studies from SUNY Buffalo, and an MFA in Film and Video from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY.

In Buffalo, NY, Liz worked as a theater lighting designer and was nominated for an award for her work. She also worked in television and web production at WGBH in Boston for the PBS history series American Experience. During her time in Pittsburgh, Liz was a professor in the Cinema Department at Point Park University and was presented the 2009 Excellence in Filmmaking award by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the international organization, Women in Film and Media. Liz currently resides in Albany, NY where she is teaching film studies and production in the Department of Communications at The College of Saint Rose. She has had over 70 national and international screenings of her work in such places as Japan, Serbia, Germany, Sweden, Finland, and France.



2014 Festival Guests: Brian Massman

massmanBrian Massman works as an actor, a director, a playwright, a filmmaker, a film editor, a video installation designer—all while teaching film, media, acting, writing and public speaking at Siena College and Schenectady County Community College.

Brian has appeared as an actor in General Desdemona at Proctors Theatre, The Crucible and M. Butterfly at Capital Repertory Theatre,  A Wedding Story at Stageworks Hudson and The Poor Soldier  with The Musicians of Ma’alwyck. He has worked on two documentary films with Mahmood





“FCI, the generally high quality” WAMC Northeast Public Radio says


Rob Edelman: New Iranian Cinema, Part 1

I recently attended the Festival Cinema Invisible, now in its third year, which features an array of new Iranian films, all of varying length. What struck me was the generally high quality of many– but not all– of the films, not to mention the universality of their subjects.


Not surprisingly, some of the screened films were extremely political in nature. TAKE CARE, a six-minute-long short, opens with repeated images of women being tossed into prison cells. Then what follows are the plights and fates of some of them. We are not told why they have been imprisoned and, within the framework of the film, it hardly matters. On one level, the film mirrors a certain reality for women within a culture in which they appear to be second-class citizens. At the same time, this brief film offers a disturbingly vivid view of the exploitation of women that might exist in any culture.

In the 17-minute-long WHEN A KID WAS A KID, a bunch of children are seen playing among themselves. They are sweet and funny and innocent, in a way that all children are, but in their games they clearly are imitating the behavior of their parents and the roles these adults play in their lives. Here, we see how the issues and conflicts that exist among the adults in a specific family are revealingly reflected in the behavior of their youngest members.

12 + 1, which runs 30 minutes, spotlights an egocentric young man who is on his way to pick up his bride. While doing so, he phones his past girlfriends to gauge their responses as he informs them of his impending nuptials. The film offer a pointed portrayal of a self-centered womanizer and, given this guy’s personality, one only can wonder how happy his marriage will be or how long it will last. And yet again, this film serves as a reminder that this kind of person exists in all cultures the world over.

The clever, appetite-inducing FIVE PIECES OF IRANIAN DISHES, which lasts an hour, celebrates the history of Iranian cuisine and how it reflects the country’s culture. More significantly, it also mirrors the manner in which the most popular approaches to dining have changed across time, from savoring carefully prepared dishes at home or in restaurants to munching on edibles that are the equivalent of “fast food.” Does this sound familiar? It certainly does… and yet again, this transformation exists in countries and cultures across the globe.

Not all the films screened were as dramatically effective as TAKE CARE, WHEN A KID WAS A KID, 12 + 1, and FIVE PIECES OF IRANIAN DISHES. Some, in fact, were barely watchable. For example, the feature-length, provocatively titled THIS FILM MUST NOT BE WATCHED, the tale of a woman who is filming her life as her marriage falls apart, is dramatically confusing and visually headache-inducing.

Not surprisingly, of course, not every film screened in the festival was worth seeing and experiencing– and THIS FILM MUST NOT BE WATCHED is a textbook example.

But that really is not the point. For film lovers, attending this festival and others like it is the equivalent of sampling a smorgasbord of unfamiliar edibles. Some may be tasty. Others may not be. The key here is to open yourself up to being exposed to them, to sample them, and to come away with the understanding that the only contemporary films that are worth seeking out are not those that earn theatrical exposure.

Rob Edelman teaches film history at the University at Albany. He has written several books on film and television, and is an associate editor of Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide.



Rob Edelman: New Iranian Cinema


Rob Edelman: New Iranian Cinema, Part 2

CLOSED CURTAIN, a pointed, highly political allegory scripted and co-directed by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, is momentarily set for theatrical release here in the U.S.


This clever film involves a writer, played by Panahi, who arrives at a secluded seaside haven. The only living thing in his presence is his pet pooch, and that is just the way he wants it. Indeed, the only living thing the writer trusts is his dog.  Why? Because a dog is undyingly loyal. A dog does not cause trouble. A dog does not ask questions. But then it is announced on television that “dogs are impure; they will be banned.” The writer’s pet is cute and lovable, and a wonderful companion. Yet for no reason, it would be killed, murdered by government decree. Next, two intruders, a young man and woman, enter the house and encroach on his solitude. They tell the writer that they are being tailed, and are in great danger.

CLOSED CURTAIN is layered with meaning as it ponders the impact of restrictions on individuals in general and artists in particular in contemporary Iran, not to mention the impracticality of avoiding oppression in any restrictive culture that is ruled by all-powerful forces. In such societies, individuals live in states of paranoia– justifiable paranoia– and even sweet, innocent pet dogs are not immune. Also, in CLOSED CURTAIN, Panahi explores the creative process and the fine line that may exist between what is real and what is created or imagined. The key here, cinematically-speaking, is not what is said but what is implied.

While CLOSED CURTAIN will be earning theatrical exposure in the U.S., certain questions arise: How commercial viability is this film? Can it, as well as others that are subtitled and that deal with serious themes, ever enjoy successful theatrical runs? In this regard, one of the most highly lauded films of recent years may be cited: A SEPARATION, directed by Asghar Farhadi, a quietly powerful Iranian drama about a family in crisis that was released in 2011. A SEPARATION featured all the ingredients that one might assume would result in big box office. Aside from being an exceptional film, what makes it so special is that it explores issues that are common to countless families, irrespective of nationality.

Happily, A SEPARATION did not go unnoticed during its time in theaters and at film festivals. It was universally lauded by critics. It was a Best Foreign Film Academy Award winner, and it also earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay: a rarity for a non-English-language film. It was honored by film organizations as diverse as the International Cinephile Society, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina, and the Guild of German Art House Cinemas, not to mention film festivals from across the globe and film critics groups from Boston to Kansas City to London.

We live in an era in which a “hot” Hollywood item, or, a “franchise film” that is based on a marketable source– for example, a best-selling novel or comic book or graphic novel– might pull in $30-million or $50-million or $70 million or more during its first weekend in release. Let’s contrast this to the box office take for A SEPARATION. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film earned a bit over $7-million during its entire U.S. theatrical run.

For the average person, $7 million is not chump change. But within the motion picture industry, it is a pittance.

Rob Edelman teaches film history at the University at Albany. He has written several books on film and television, and is an associate editor of Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide.





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