The Galway Film Fleadh is proud to announce that Mohsen Makhmalbaf will attend this year’s festival where he will be the subject of this year’s Directors Masterclass in partnership with Screen Training Ireland, and the recipient of the Film Fleadh’s highest honour, the Galway Hooker Award. The Film Fleadh will also host the Irish Premiére of Makhmalbaf’s latest film, The President, at 8pm on Thursday 9th July at the Town Hall Theatre.

“I was in jail for four and a half years. When I came out, I continued the same struggle against injustice but instead of using weapons, I began to use art and cinema.”

Born in Tehran in 1957, Makhmalbaf emerged from the “new wave” of Iranian filmmakers as a revolutionary and standout. His award winning earlier works include Salaam Cinema (1995), A Moment of Innocence (1996), Gabbeh (1996) and Kandahar (2001). So highly regarded is Mr. Makhalbaf that when his identity was stolen by a would be filmmaker it was turned into a feature film called Close Up (1990) directed by the legendary Abbas Kiarostami.

Fighting for democracy, Mohsen was shot by the police at the age of 17 and spent almost 5 years in political prison. After his release he continued his struggle in search of democracy and equality through his activities in literature and films. Since 2009, 40 films made by the Makhmalbaf family, alongside Mohsen’s 30 published books are banned in his homeland.

Makhmalbaf has also taught his three children about the art of cinema. His daughter Samira, holds the record for the youngest filmmaker to have been selected for the official selection of Cannes, at the age of 17, with her debut titled The Apple. Hana, Makhmalbaf’s younger daughter, won the Crystal Bear of Berlin and the Grand Jury Prize of San Sebastian Film Festival with her first feature film.

The Directors Masterclass will be moderated by Kieron J. Walsh. A graduate of the Royal College of Art and a member of BAFTA, Kieron has directed films for the BBC, Working Title, Channel 4, Granada and RTE. In 2006, he founded Bl!nder Films to develop and produce drama and documentary for domestic and international audiences. The Masterclass will take place on Friday the 10th of July from 10am – 1pm in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway.

An international co-production shot in Georgia, The President is a gripping and inventive film, which echoes real-life political events, from the Arab spring and beyond.

The president (Misha Gomiashvili) of an unnamed country interrupts signing execution warrants to spend time on a game with his grandson (Dachi Orvelashvili). To demonstrate his power, he orders the lights of the city turned on and off – and in plunging his people into darkness inadvertently sparks a rebellion. Forced to flee with his grandson through the country he once ruled, the president shields the young boy from danger with elaborate games of pretence. But the harsh consequences of his regime become obvious as they encounter his former subjects.

The Irish Premiere of The President will take place on Thursday 9th July in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway at 8pm.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf will be presented with the Galway Hooker Award at the Galway Film Fleadh’s Closing Night Awards Ceremony on Sunday 12th July at 7:15pm in the Town Hall Theatre.

To apply for a place on the Directors Masterclass, please email masterclasses@galwayfilmfleadh.com.

To book tickets for the Irish Premiere of The Preisdent, please click here.