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Berlin Competition Title ‘My Favourite Cake,’ by Iran’s Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha, Boarded by Totem Films (EXCLUSIVE)

Totem Films, the Paris-based sales and production company known for arthouse breakouts such as “Compartment No. 6” and “Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry,” has boarded sales on “My Favourite Cake” by Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha. The Iranian writing-directing duo’s latest feature was just announced in competition at the upcoming Berlinale.

The film stars newcomer Lily Farhadpour as Mahin and renowned Iranian actor Esmail Mehrabi as Faramarz.

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Seventy-year-old Mahin lives alone, until she decides to break her solitary routine and revitalize her love life. But as she opens up to romance, an unexpected encounter quickly evolves into an unforgettable evening.

Moghaddam and Sanaeeha said: “’My Favourite Cake’ is based on the reality of the everyday lives of middle-class women in Iran. The realities of women’s lives in Iran have hardly ever been told, yet this is a playful tale about hope and joy in life, as well as the absurdity of death.”

The film marks a return to Berlin’s competition lineup for Moghaddam and Sanaeeha after the success of “Ballad of a White Cow,” which was presented at the Berlinale in 2021. The film was sold by Totem Films to more than 40 key distributors, and screened at A-list festivals around the world.

“’Don’t change a winning team’ is something we believe in, and after the success of ‘Ballad of a White Cow,’ it was obvious that we would work with Totem again,” the filmmakers said.

“Ballad of a White Cow” was also among the audience favorites at the Berlinale, finishing among the finalists for the festival’s Competition Audience Award, and emerging as the top vote-getter of any non-German film that year.

Iranian cinema has made a significant mark on Berlin’s politically oriented competition in recent decades, with Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” (2011), Jafar Panahi’s “Taxi” (2015) and Mohammad Rasoulof’s “There Is No Evil” (2020) all being awarded the festival’s top prize, the Golden Bear for best feature. Iran has won Berlin’s top award more times in the last 15 years than any country in the world.

Moghaddam, who was born in Tehran, is an actress, screenwriter and director. She graduated from the Performing Arts School of Gothenburg, Sweden. She has performed in various Swedish theaters and has starred in Iranian films such as Jafar Panahi and Kambuzia Partovi’s “Closed Curtain” (2013), which won a Silver Bear at the 63rd Berlinale.

Sanaeeha, who was born in Shiraz, completing his degree in architecture. He then began writing scripts and directing short films, documentaries and commercials. His first feature film “Risk of Acid Rain” (2015) was screened at more than 30 international festivals.

Behtash and Maryam began their collaboration by co-writing the feature film “Risk of Acid Rain” (2015). “My Favourite Cake” marks their third feature collaboration.

“My Favourite Cake” is produced by Iran’s Filmsazan Javan, France’s Caracteres Productions, Sweden’s Hobab and Germany’s Watchmen Productions, and supported by the Swedish Film Institute, Sveriges Television, New Dawn, ZDF/Arte, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, World Cinema Fund, CNC Aide aux cinemas du monde, Institut Français, Région Ile de France, Eurimages and the Berlinale Coproduction Market.

Totem Films’ European Film Market slate also includes the Panorama opening film “Crossing” by Levan Akin, whose “And Then We Danced” emerged as a hot sales title after a buzzy Cannes Directors’ Fortnight bow in 2019.

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