Celebrating Persian Culture at the Boston Festival of Films from Iran

a modest reception iran film festival mfaFrom A Modest Reception, directed by Mani Haghighi. (Via MFA.org)

The MFA’s annual Iranian Film Festival starts this weekend, offering audiences a chance to learn how religion, cultural tradition, the role of women, and life in general as an Iranian rouse hardships and spark fortitude. For a reasonably priced way to squeeze some arts and culture into your agenda, check out one or more of these eight films that will be showcased from January 19-31. Here are the choices:

The Iran Job: A documentary about an American basketball player who decides to move to Iran for a job, and then befriends shop owners, his teammates, and a few women. While the American and his team work to move forward in the playoffs, the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the protests that go along with it threaten to interfere with their lives. (93 min., Friday, January 25, from 7:30-9 p.m., and Saturday, January 26, from 1-2:30 p.m., Remis Auditorium, 161)

Rhino Season: Winner of Best Cinematography at the 2012 San Sebastian Film Festival, this film follows the story of Sahel and his wife Mina, both of whom become imprisoned in Iran. After 10 years in jail, Mina is released, and after behind told her husband died, she moves to Turkey with her children. Sahel, however, is alive, and when freed, he embarks on a journey to find his beloved family. (104 min., Saturday, January 19, from 7:30-9:15 p.m., and Sunday, January 20, from 12:30-2:15 p.m., Remis Auditorium, 161)

One. Two. One.: Following the story of a complex love triangle in the digital age, filmmaker Mania Akbari shows one-on-one interviews with psychologists, a fortune teller, and an aesthetician who discuss the life of a woman whose face was disfigured in an accident caused by her boyfriend. (79 min., Sunday, January 20, from 2:45-4:10 p.m., and Friday, January 25, from 5:40-7 p.m., Remis Auditorium, 161)

Nessa: Nessa, a struggling actress, fights to follow her dream despite the consequences of going against the wishes of her violent brother and the rest of her conservative family. While the family seems to believe in Nessa’s abilities to accomplish her goals, they worry about her reputation and what it will bring for the rest of them. (52 min., Saturday, January 26, 11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m., Remis Auditorium, 161)

The Last Step: Intertwining a murder with a love triangle, The Last Step tells the story of Leili, an actress whose success brought forth obstacles in her marriage. When her husband suddenly dies, the details of the couple’s problems and his mysterious death begin to unfold. (88 min., Saturday, January 26, from 3-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, January 27, from 1-2:30 p.m., Remis Auditorium, 161)

Reluctant Bachelor: A documentary about a single Iranian filmmaker in his 30s who is living in his father’s house and dealing with a family feud, all the while having to handle his own general distrust for others and fear of being in a committed relationship. As Mehdi Bagheri reveals the complexities of his personal life, the thought-provoking meaning of home and family develops into an important theme for the filmmaker. (58 min., Sunday, January 27, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Remis Auditorium, 161)

No Men Allowed: As a refreshing romantic comedy in the midst of several dramas, No Men Allowed tells the story of Pariva, an Iranian girl who is determined to set up her school’s first male teacher with her headmaster, Ms. Darabi. The film was directed by one of Iran’s most popular TV comedy stars. (100 min., Sunday, January 27, 3-4:40 p.m., Remis Auditorium, 161)

A Modest Reception: An interesting approach to a black comedy directed by Mani Haghighi, this flick tells the story of a Tehran couple who gives large bags of money to the poor in a less than Robin Hood-esque way, capturing their reactions on film in an act described as “perverse and puzzling,” and according to Screen Daily, “Utterly engaging, original, and sophisticated.” (100 min., Wednesday, January 30, and Thursday, January 31, from 7-8:40 p.m., Alfond Auditorium, G36)

The Museum of Fine Arts is located at 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Admission per film is $9 for members and $11 for non-members. For more information, visit mfa.org.