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There’s Hitchcock, Renoir and the influence of many other great directors in Ashgar Farhadi’s films, but the end result is very much his own. His dramas work as modern-day parables – moral tales that are specific to their characters but speak to the world at large. After two domestically-released features, 'Dancing in the Dust' (2003) and 'Beautiful City' (2004), Farhadi gained wider distribution for his riveting third feature 'Fireworks Wednesday' (2006). Set over the course of the Persian New Year, it details the travails of a woman employed as a cleaner by an employer who is in the middle of a domestic battle with her husband. Like the director’s best-know film, the Oscar-winning 'A Separation' (2011), it highlights how the most incendiary situations unfold in the apparent tranquillity of the home. The latter film took the perspective of the family, with the employed carer seemingly in the wrong, but as with all of Farhadi’s work, blame is easy to call out but far more difficult to prove. 'About Elly' (2009), dealing with the disappearance of a young woman amongst a group out for the day, is arguably the director’s most Hitchcockian film, but it’s social critique also recalls Antonioni’s 'L’Avventura' (1960). 'The Past' (2013) is the only film to date set outside Iran. It’s a compelling domestic drama detailing the shift in allegiances when separated couples begin new relationships and the impact they have on family members. 'The Salesman' (2016), which won Farhadi the Best Screenplay and Shahab Hosseini the Best Actor Awards at the Cannes Film Festival, is another moral fable, about an attack on a young, woman, whose narrative and themes are woven into a production of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’. It’s an intelligent and moving film that once again highlight’s the filmmaker’s position as a leading name in world cinema.
A chronicler of the American cultural underbelly, Jeff Feuerzig's 'The Devil and Daniel Johnston' (2005) offered up a fascinating portrait of a troubled artist, while 'Author: The JT LeRoy Story' (2016) fascinatingly explored the very notion of authorship and identity under the glare of the public eye.
Ralph Fiennes was born in Suffolk, United Kingdom in 1962. He has been honored with two Oscar nominations, the first for his role as a Nazi commandant in Steven Speilberg's 'Schindler's List' (1993), the second for 'The English Patient' (1996), which established Fiennes as one of the most talented British actors. Fiennes made his directorial debut in 2011 with a modern version of Shakespeare's 'Coriolanus'.
Sophie Fiennes began making films in 1998. She is widely acclaimed for her unique observational eye and strong sense of cinematic form. Her films act as powerful portraits of some of today's most iconic individuals. Fiennes' films have screened theatrically, on television and in festivals around the world, including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and London.
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James Franco was born in California in 1978. He studied English at UCLA, where he first started acting to overcome his shyness. His breakthrough came with the cult teenage series 'Freaks and Geeks' (1999). He is best known for roles in Sam Raimi's 'Spiderman' trilogy and Danny Boyle's '127 Hours' (2010), for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
Stephen Frears is an esteemed British director whose films favour character and narrative over visual embellishments. He is also known as a 'writer's director', owing to his numerous collaborations with esteemed screenwriters such as Hanif Kureishi and Alan Bennett. Over his illustrious career, Frears has directed many critically and commercially successful films, including 'Dangerous Liaisons' (1988) and 'Philomena' (2013).
William Friedkin, born in 1935, began his directorial career with live television shows and documentaries at the age of 18. He turned his gritty directing style to 'The French Connection' (1971) and 'The Exorcist' (1973). 'Killer Joe', starring Matthew McConaughey competed in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in 2011.