The 27th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) will honour Iranian filmmaker and women’s rights activist Mahnaz Mohammadi with the ‘Spirit of Cinema’ award.
The announcement was made by Kerala State Chalachithra Academy chairman Ranjith here on Wednesday at a meeting convened to form the organising committee of the festival to be held in Thiruvananthapuram from December 9 to 16. The ‘Spirit of Cinema’ award, introduced last year to honour filmmakers whose passion for cinema shines through even in the most trying of circumstances, was first awarded to Kurdish filmmaker Lisa Calan.
Ms. Mohammadi, who has been vocal for women’s rights in Iran for the past several years, was active in the ongoing protests in Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, after she was arrested for not wearing the hijab as per government diktats.
The Iranian security forces had arrested Ms. Mohammadi several times since 2007, with the latest instance being during the protests demanding justice for Amini. Travel bans have also been imposed on her, preventing her from making her appearance at some major film festivals.
Her major documentaries include ‘Women Without Shadows’, ‘Travelogue’, and ‘We Are Half the Iran’s Population’. In 2019, she directed her first feature film ‘Son Mother’, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Spirit of Cinema award carries a cash prize of ₹5 lakh. Minister for Cultural Affairs V.N. Vasavan, who inaugurated the function, said cultural activists should speak up against recent incidents including human sacrifice, honour killings, and drug abuse. General Education Minister V. Sivankutty released the festival logo. The festival artistic director Deepika Suseelan spoke about the major attractions of the upcoming IFFK.