Despite being persona non grata in international circles, the nation of Iran continues to have a flourishing film industry Like few other countries in the global crosshairs, Iran is a bastion of distinctly modern culture. The Islamic republics film industry is more akin to that of artsy France or Italy than propagandist North Korea, its remaining fellow in the Axis of Evil. Filmmakers flourish under a theocratic regime that alternately ignores, encourages or simply doesnt put much energy into controlling them. For a look at some of their work, head to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for its fifteenth annual Iranian Film Festival. Among this years selections is Unfinished Stories, in which director Pourya Azarbaijani presents the interlocking stories of three women put into desperate situations because of the patriarchal society in which they live. In Alireza Raisians Havana File, a Western-educated Ph.D. is devastated to find that the government has canceled his biotechnology project. His subsequent complaints in the press make him the target of an elaborate smear campaign. But the must-see may be 10+4, Abbas Kiarostamis sequel to 2002s acclaimed 10, which was like HBOs Taxicab Confessions, only fictional and good. 10+4 sees our cabbie heroine undergoing treatment for breast cancer and facing her fear of death. The festival begins with 10+4 today at 7 p.m. and continues at the MFAH through Sunday, January 27. 1001 Bissonnet. For tickets and information, call 713-639-7531 or visit www.mfah.org. $6 to $7. Additional screenings follow at the Rice Cinema (February 1 and 2; 6100 Main; 713-348-4853; www.ricecinema.rice.edu; $5 to $6) and the Aurora Picture Show (February 9 and 10; 800 Aurora; 713-868-2101; www.aurorapictureshow.org; $6).
Sat., Jan. 19, 9 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 20, 7 p.m., 2008