03 – 06 DECEMBER 2020


The 8th Persian International Film Festival was presented in partnership with Palace Cinemas and showcased the largest film program dedicated to Persian cinema internationally. The 8th Festival was dedicated to women from the Persian-speaking communities and paid tribute to their strength, courage and artistic expression through screening films by women or with women in leading roles, depicting some of the challenges and difficulties they endure and overcome.







The festival’s Feature and Short Jury, Pat Fiske, Peter Andrikidis, Dr Romaine Moreton, Rahel Romahn and Helana Sawires announced the winners of the 2020 GOLDEN GAZELLE AWARD for Best Feature and Best Short Film at the closing night ceremony of the 9th edition of the Persian International Film Festival.

  • Best Feature: PARI directed by Siamak Etemadi
  • Special mention: SON-MOTHER directed by Mahnaz Mohammadi
  • Best Short Film: EXAM directed by Sonia K Haddad
  • Special mention: EACH OTHER directed by Sarah Tabibzadeh


Love Marriage in Kabul: A Memoir

In the film industry, we are familiar with the process of adaptation where usually the story line of a book is translated into the visual world of a film. However, there are few instances where a book is written about or based on a film. In this discussion, join Sanaz Fotouhi, Karen Pearlman and Catherine Lumby as they discuss Fotouhi’s latest book Love Marriage in Kabul: A Memoir, which chronicles the making of and behind the scene of the award winning documentary by the same name.

Time: Saturday 5th December, 11 AM
Location: Online on ZOOM
Cost: Free (RSVP Essential)

The Persian Film Festival is pleased to celebrate the launch of Sanaz Fotouhi’s new book, Love Marriage in Kabul: A Memoir (Gazebo, 2020).


Love Marriage in Kabul: A Memoir is the behind-the-scenes account of the hardships and heartaches, tears and joys of the seemingly impossible project of making a film in Afghanistan. It is the story of a young woman’s determination to confront her fears to provide an insight into the hidden world of Afghanistan’s widows and orphans. With rare compassion and lucidity, Sanaz Fotouhi chronicles her inner struggles and external events and leads us to interrogate our own notion of humanity.

Watch The Film

The festival is also pleased to host online screenings of Love Marriage in Kabul.


Mahboba Rawi, a strong-willed Afghan-Australian woman, and the founder of Mahboba’s Promise, has dedicated her life to helping orphans, widows and schooling girls in Afghanistan. She is the mother figure for thousands of orphans she has rescued.

Abdul, one of these orphans, is in love with Fatemeh, the girl next door. The two have been exchanging romantic letters for over a year and hope to marry one day. But Fatemeh’s father has other plans – he has decided to marry her off to anyone who can offer a large sum of money as her dowry. Devastated, Abdul is hoping when Mahboba arrives for her yearly trip to Kabul, that she will help him again. When Mahboba hears the story, she is very concerned about Abdul, and Fatemeh’s possible fate in a forced marriage, She is determined to make the marriage happen between Abdul and Fatemah.

However, Fatemeh’s father makes demands beyond anyone’s expectations. He won’t let the marriage happen unless Mahboba pays him $10,000 or finds a wife for his eldest son to replace Fatemeh’s role in the household. With nothing to Abdul’s name, the fate of the couple depends entirely on Mahboba’s ability to meet or negotiate the father’s terms. But she only has one month and limited resources.


Dr Sanaz Fotouhi

Sanaz Fotouhi is a writer, filmmaker, arts manager, thinker and a mom. She was born in Iran soon after the revolution and at the onset of the war. Thanks to her father’s job (though she wasn’t really thankful for it when she was a teenager) she grew up across Asia, and America before moving to Australia.

While living in Hong Kong, Sanaz studied a BA and an MPhil in English Literature from the University of Hong Kong. She particularly had a passion for creative writing and literary theory and criticism, especially modernism, post-colonial and post-modern literatures and theories. She was a passionate nerd who spent every break in the library, and handing in assignments weeks in advance, to the annoyance of her classmates! Her MPhil project (to which one day she will return in the future…) is a comparative study of the short stories of Nadine Gordimer and Katherine Mansfield.

It was this passion that led her to her PhD study of Iranian writing in English from a post-colonial perspective where she examined every text of fiction and memoir that she could get her hands on by Iranian writers in English since 1979 to 2014. This study eventuated as a book, The Literature of the Iranian Diaspora: Meaning and Identity Since the Islamic Revolution which has become a seminal text that examines the body of Iranian writing in English between that time.

Professor Catharine Lumby

Professor Catharine Lumby is the author and co-author of six books and numerous journal articles and book chapters. She is writing a literary biography of the author Frank Moorhouse for Allen and Unwin. Catharine writes a regular column for The Guardian. She also a longstanding social commentator on radio and television. Catharine delivers talks and workshops to schools for educators, parents and young people on social media, ethics and respectful relationships.

Since 2004, Catharine has worked in a pro-bono role advising the National Rugby League on cultural change and education programs for players. Before entering academia in 2000, she was a journalist and opinion writer and has worked for The Sydney Morning Herald, the ABC and The Bulletin magazine.

She was the foundation Chair of the Media and Communications Department at Sydney University and the foundation Director of the Journalism and Media Research Centre at UNSW. She joined Macquarie University in 2013. She has been the recipient of eight Australian Research Council grants and has completed research projects for organisations as diverse as Google Australia, the Australian Communication and Media Authority, the Australian Sports Commission and the National Rugby League. She sits on the Council of the National Museum of Australia.

Dr Karen Pearlman

Dr Karen Pearlman writes, directs and edits screen productions. She researches creative practice, cognition and feminist film histories. Karen Pearlman is a director, with Richard James Allen, of the critically acclaimed Physical TV Company. Their works have broadcast in Australia and around the world, screened at over 300 international film festivals, and received over 80 nominations or awards.

Karen’s 2019 film, I want to make a film about women won Best Documentary at the 2020 St Kilda Film Festival, qualifying it for an Academy Award nomination. She was awarded Best Director at the 2020 inaugural CinefestOz Short Film Awards and Best Direction of a Documentary Short Subject at the 2020 Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) Awards. I want to make a film about women also received the Creative Achievement Award at the 2020 Brisbane International Film Festival Short Film Awards and a Special Mention at the 2020 Sydney Film Festival’s Dendy Awards for its ‘ambitious and masterful mix of forms’. 2016 film, Woman with an Editing Bench, won the ATOM Award for Best Short Fiction. It and Karen’s 2018 documentary, After the Facts, were both honoured with Australian Screen Editors’ Guild (ASE) Awards for Best Editing.

Karen is a senior lecturer in Screen Production and Practice at Macquarie University, the 2020 Australian Top Research Institution in Film. She and her colleague Dr Iqbal Barkat won the 2019 Australian Award for University Teaching. Before joining Macquarie, Karen held the post of Head of Screen Studies at AFTRS for 6 years. A leading theorist, speaker and writer on the art of film editing, she is the author of Cutting Rhythms, Intuitive Film Editing (now in its 2nd edition with Focal Press) and well-known around the world for her YouTube series The Science of Editing created with This Guy Edits.