WOW Wales One World Film Festival
Opens Friday 20 March 2015
WOW Wales One World Film Festival celebrates the golden age of Iranian cinema, marks the 150th anniversary of the Welsh emigration to Patagonia and premiers eco-documentary Deep Listening (Dadirri) directed by Swansea filmmaker, Helen Iles.
On March 20th 2015, WOW Wales One World Film Festival returns for its 15th year, bringing the very best world cinema to local cinemas across Wales. From the snowy mountain passes of Pakistan to the sandy streets of Timbuktu, the festival will transport cinema audiences across the world. 
A special event at Chapter Arts Centre on Saturday 21st March will bring filmmakers, critics, and audiences together for a unique day exploring this golden age of Iranian cinema. Starting in 1987 with Abbas Kiarostami’s Where is the Friends Home?, a generation of globally acclaimed Iranian filmmakers including Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Bahman Ghobadi and Samira Makhmalbaf won prizes at festivals across the world. While revealing social changes in post-revolutionary Iran to Western audiences, their films were visually striking, rich in symbolism and full of wonder.
March 21st is also a very special date in the Iranian calendar, as it’s Nowruz, or Iranian New Year. Deeply rooted in Zoroastrian traditions, Nowruz, meaning "New Day”, has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years to mark the start of Spring. WOW Film Festival will be holding further Nowruz celebrations and screenings of Iranian films at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and at the Small World Centre, Cardigan. These events are part of a UK-Iran season of culture supported by the British Council.
The hugely influential Iranian neorealist style that emerged from this period has since had an enduring legacy world-wide and continues to influence many young filmmakers. WOW Film Festival is working with the British Council to bring a selection of rarely seen Iranian films like Bashu, the Little Stranger , Hamoun and Under The Skin of the City to Wales.
WOW Film Festival will be holding the UK Premiere of Deep Listening (Dadirri)at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Monday 23 March. Helen Iles, an independent filmmaker from Swansea who made Living in the Future about the Lammas eco village in west Wales, is currently based in Melbourne where she has made her new film, Deep Listening (Dadirri). In the 1970s a growing movement for social change resulted in planning being granted for the first multiple occupancy dwellings in Australia.  Deep Listening includes illuminating interviews not only with some of the leading lights in the Australian alternative living scene, but also with Aboriginal elders who share their own wisdom on the indigenous way of Dadirri or Deep Listening, which translates as a form of connection to land and people also underpinning the “alternative” way of life. The lessons learnt by a generation who have spent their lives creating harmonious societies that reflect their shared values give us all tools that can enrich our own lives.
In 2015 Wales commemorates 150 years since the ship Mimosa arrived in Patagonia carrying Welsh emigrants with the aim of establishing a Welsh-speaking colony. WOW marks the anniversary with two contrasting but equally intriguing Patagonian films.  Set against the background of colonialism, award winning metaphysical western Jauja— its title a reference to a mythical land of plenty - stars Viggo Mortensen as a 19th century Danish engineer following his runaway daughter into the rugged wilderness of Patagonia.  Natural Sciencesis a contemporary tale about a headstrong and self-sufficient young girl from the Patagonian mountains, who is determined to find the father she never knew. Setting off with a sympathetic teacher, their journey through wrong turns, dead ends and mistaken identities is wryly funny and wholly moving.
Three stunning films explore the experiences of women breaking away from what is expected of them and challenging traditional values. In the joyful Margarita, With a Straw a rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy leaves her home in Delhi to study in New York, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery. The best movie to come out of Pakistan in many years, and gorgeously filmed in the beautiful high Himalaya, Dukhtar is the thrilling tale of a brave mother who flees with her 10-year-old daughter to save her from marriage to a local warlord. Award winning Difretsees a bold women’s aid lawyer fight for a young girl’s life in a riveting tale that reveals Ethiopia’s cultural complexity, where traditional customs are pitted against modern ideas of equality.
The culture clash continues in Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako’s (Bamako, Waiting for Happiness) lucid portrait of the impact of foreign jihadis on life in Mali, as they hypocritically enforce sharia law – no music, no football, no smoking, suitable dress. Beautifully filmed against the backdrop of sandy streets, stark desert landscapes and the sparkling river, this weaves together the stories of the residents as they adjust to living with oppression as best they can.
Also confirmed in the festival line-up are the intriguing, hugely original The Tribe from Ukraine that has won prizes at festivals all across the world, and the fabulously beautiful August Winds from Brazil. As usual, the UK’s longest running world cinema festival brings untold stories from around the world to cinema screens across Wales.
Festival Director David Gillam said, “It’s great pleasure for WOW to bring all these wonderful films to Wales. I’m particularly looking forward to celebrating Nowruz, or Iranian New Year with some great events at venues around Wales.”
For further information on WOW Wales One World Film Festival, visit
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