New York Film Festival 2002

Martha P. Nochimson


The 40th annual New York Film Festival was framed by the refusal of the United States government to grant Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami a visa to attend the screening of his film, _Ten_. In protest Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, whose apolitical film _The Man Without a Past_ was also on the Festival program, decided not to attend. A week or so into the Festival, Bertrand Tavernier found himself unable to attend his press conference after the screening of his highly political film, _Safe Conduct_, because he was in the hospital. He sent a letter to the Festival apologizing for his absence which made it clear that he had wanted, in addition to discussing his film, to make his own statement about the insult to Kiarostami. Tavernier saluted Kaurismaki for his gesture, but said that his way was to be present at the Festival to raise his voice. Tavernier specifically called attention to the bitter irony of lumping Kiarostami with the Arab terrorists and with Saddam Hussein, only because of his national origin, when the Iranian director had devoted his life to affirming the values of freedom and condemning dictatorship.

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