Iran is a country with a rich history in arts and literature. Music, poetry and storytelling have always been prominent parts of Iranian culture. As can be guessed, many interesting art festivals and cultural events take place in this country throughout the year. But Fajr Festival is the most famous one of them. If you are planning to travel to Iran in anytime between February 1st to February 11th, you can attend this festival to add an artful twist to your vacation.
What is this festival all about?
Fajr is an annual festival held every February in Tehran and is very popular among young artists, university students and anyone who is enthusiastic about films, theatre and music. The opening and closing ceremony of the festival are very celebratory and the tickets get sold out so soon that you need to buy them weeks – and even months – before. Let’s see what makes Fajr Festival an important event for artists across the country.
Fajr Film Festival
The most famous section of the annual Fajr Festival is the film section. It’s an intense competition between different groups of artist. For example directors, actors and actresses, film-screen writers, film music composers and other artists who contribute in making a movie in any other way get evaluated for their performance and a winner will be chosen from each group by the jury in the end of the festival. The winner receives a crystal phoenix, known as Simorgh-e-Boloorin in Persian, which is the most prestigious Iranian award for artists.
Every year, remarkable movies take part in this competition and that’s how so many artists get introduced to people during Fajr Festival annually.
Ajans-e-Shishei (The Glass Agency), Man-Taraneh-15-Sal-Daram (I’m Taraneh 15), Be-Hamin-Sadegi (As Simple as That), Khanei-rooye-Ab (A House Built on Water), Abad-o-Yek-Rouz (Life and a Day), Shabi-ke-Maah-Kamel-Shod (When the Moon was Full) and Majarayeh-Nimrooz (Midday Adventures) are some of the most honored Iranian movies that have won several Crystal Phoenix Awards during previous Fajr Festivals throughout years.
If you are interested in watching any of these films, you can easily buy them from bookstores that sell movies. The bookstore of Pardis-e-Mellat is one of the best places in Tehran that sells books, films and musics. Pay a visit to it while traveling Tehran.
It’s noteworthy to mention that Fajr Film Festival features several categories.
Negah-e-No (New Outlook) is the name of the category which includes films made by younger directors who are attending the competition for the very first time. This category of Fajr Festival is one of the most important parts of it due to its prominent role in introducing young artists to Iranians.
Cinema-Haghighat (the Cinema of Reality) is the category specific to documentary movies and is very popular among documentary movie fans.
Cinema-Honar-and-Tajrobe (Art and Experience Cinema) is another category of Fajr Festival in movies section. It’s a program for artists who seek for non-commercial arts. Undoubtedly, this category has a profound impact on the world of film making in Iran. It includes feature films, short films, documentary films and animation films. The form and content of these movies are different than what you may find in Iranian mainstream cinema. So if you are interested in experimental arts and enjoy watching films that use different methods and narratives, we highly recommend you to watch at least one of these films while you’re traveling in Iran. In addition, it’s a good opportunity to learn about the new definitions of aesthetics among young Iranian artists.
Note that none of these film categories are displayed in cinemas of cities other than Tehran. So if you are interested to buy a movie ticket and watch a Fajr Festival film, make sure you’re in Tehran on that day.
Fajr Theater Festival
Referred to as one of the premier theater festivals of the country, Fajr thereat Festival is an opportunity for theater directors, actors, actresses, play-writers and other artists who contribute in creating a theater performance to introduce themselves to the professional world of performing arts and their audience.
The winners of the Crystal Phoenix of Fajr Festival in the theater section become famous national artists and get admired by other professionals. So it’s not an exaggeration to say that Fajr Festival is a launch pad for many young theater artists since it provides them with an exceptional opportunity to make themselves known to their audience.
If you are a theater-enthusiast and want to see what’s happening in the world of Iranian performing arts, buy a ticket to one of the stage performances that attend the Fajr Festival competition. You’ll love the artful atmosphere and watching young Iranian hipsters will be an interesting part of your trip for sure.
By the way, there’s a long standing tradition of performing in Iran which is known as Naghali and dates back to ancient times. It includes a dramatic way of story-telling accompanied by special gestures and movements. Although this genre of performing arts was regarded as old-fashioned in previous decades, it has gained a lot of popularity and support recently. You will love it especially if it’s performed in a traditional coffee house.
One of the most interesting parts of a Fajr Festival performance is before the play starts. People chit-chat behind the doors of the theater and talk about their favorite artistic genres, artists and play writers before they’re allowed to enter the hall. Why not start a conversation with them and gain more information about Iranian arts? Moreover, if you’re interested in watching a Naghali performance, you can ask about where they’re being performed from people who you visit in Fajr Festival.
Fajr Music Festival
Who doesn’t like music? Attending a music festival and enjoying a live music performance is a delight nobody wants to miss. If you’re planning to visit Iran during Fajr Festival, going to an Iranian music performance must be on your travel activities list! Many musicians attend this festival to present their art on stage and astonish their audience with the magic of music.
There are so many Iranian musical instruments that you may find interesting. For example, Dotar is an Iranian musical instrument that has been added to the list of UNESCO cultural heritages due to its artistic and cultural value. Attending a music performance in Fajr Festival gives you an opportunity to learn about Iranian instruments, singing methods and the diversity of Iranian music.
Iranian traditional music, classic music, instrumental music, fusion music and pop music are genres that you can choose from before buying a ticket to a Fajr Music Festival performance.
Remember that tickets of the most popular musicians get sold out so quickly that you may need to buy them weeks – or even months – before the day.
Fajr Festival is not the only music event of Iran. Several music festivals and cultural events are held in this country throughout each year and you can plan to join them if you are an art lover. For more on Iranian Music Festivals click here.
Join this Joyous Festival of Iranian Arts
Joining Fajr Festival is the best way to understand what’s going on in the limitless world of Iranian contemporary arts. It’s truly a festival to celebrate the efforts of Iranian artists for giving new interpretations of life to their audience. Don’t hesitate and join the Persian feast!
For more information, contact us at Land of Turquoise Domes.