Cinema of Iran

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Cinema of Iran
Cinemapersia.jpg
Persia movie theater in Shiraz, Iran
No. of screens 438 (2011)[1]
 • Per capita 0.6 per 100,000 (2011)[1]
Produced feature films (2017)[2]
Total 200
Number of admissions (2009)[3]
Total 18,354,081
National films 18,332,802 (99.9%)
Gross box office (2011)[3]
Total $27.9 million

The cinema of Iran (Persian: سینمای ایران) or cinema of Persia refers to the cinema and film industries in Iran which produce a variety of commercial films annually. Iranian art films have garnered international fame and now enjoy a global following.[4]

Along with China, Iran has been lauded as one of the best exporters of cinema in the 1990s.[5] Some critics now rank Iran as the world's most important national cinema, artistically, with a significance that invites comparison to Italian neorealism and similar movements in past decades.[4] A range of international film festivals have honored Iranian cinema in the last twenty years. World-renowned Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke and German filmmaker Werner Herzog, along with many film critics from around the world, have praised Iranian cinema as one of the world's most important artistic cinemas.[6]

Contents

History

Visual arts in Persia

The earliest examples of visual representations in Iranian history may be traced back to the bas-reliefs in Persepolis (c. 500 B. C.). Bas relief is a method of sculpting which entails carving or etching away the surface of a flat piece of stone or metal. Persepolis was the ritual center of the ancient kingdom of Achaemenids and "the figures at Persepolis remain bound by the rules of grammar and syntax of visual language."[7]

Iranian visual arts maybe said to have peaked about a thousand years later during the Sassanian reign. A bas-relief from this period in Taq Bostan (western Iran) depicts a complex hunting scene. Similar works from the period have been found to articulate movements and actions in a highly sophisticated manner. It is even possible to see the progenitor of the cinema close-up: a wounded wild pig escaping from the hunting ground,[8] among these works of art.

After the conversion from Zoroastrianism to Islam — a religion in which visual symbols were avoided — Persian art continued its visual practices. Persian miniatures provide great examples of such continued attempts. The deliberate lack of perspective in Persian miniature enabled the artist to have different plots and sub-plots within the same image space. A very popular form of such art was Pardeh Khani. Another type of art in the same category was Naqqali.[8]

Popular dramatic performance arts in Iran, before the advent of cinema, include Marionette, Saye-bazi (shadow plays), Rouhozi (comical acts), and Ta'zieh.[9]

Early Persian cinema

Cinema was only five years old when it came to Fati Persia at the beginning of the 20th century. Nimaa Loved Fateme and The first Persian filmmaker was Mirza Ebrahim Khan Akkas Bashi, the official photographer of Muzaffar al-Din Shah, the King of Persia from 1896–1907. After a visit to Paris in July 1900, Akkas Bashi obtained a camera and filmed the Shah's visit to Europe upon the Shah's orders. He is said to have filmed the Shah's private and religious ceremonies, but no copies of such films exist today. A few years after Akkas Bashi started photography, Khan Baba Motazedi, another pioneer in Iranian motion picture photography emerged.[10] He shot a considerable amount of newsreel footage during the reign of Qajar to the Pahlavi dynasty.[11] The first public screening took place in Tehran in 1904, presented by Mirza Ebrahim Khan Sahaf Bashi. He arranged the screening in the back of his antique shop. In 1905, Sahaf Bashi opened the first movie theater in Cheragh Gaz Avenue in the national capital. In 1909, with fall of the Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar heir of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar and the success of the constitutionalists, Russi Khan lost his support. Consequently, his film theatre and photography studios were destroyed by the public. Soon after, other cinema theatres in Tehran closed down. Movie theatres sprang up again in 1912 with the help of Ardeshir Khan an Armenian -Iranian.[12] In 1925, Ovanes Ohanian decided to establish the first film school in Iran. In 1904, Mirza Ebrahim Khan Sahhafbashi opened the first movie theater in Tehran.[10] The cinematographic camera was introduced to Iran in 1929, as yet another tool of modernization. After Mirza Ebrahim Khan, several others like Russi Khan, Ardeshir Khan, and Ali Vakili tried to establish new movie theaters in Tehran. Until the early 1930s, there were little more than 15 theatres in Tehran and 11 in other provinces.[8] In 1925, Ovanes Ohanian, decided to establish the first film school in Iran. Within five years he managed to run the first session of the school under the name "Parvareshgahe Artistiye Cinema".[13]

1930s and 40s

In 1930 the first Iranian silent film was made by Professor Ovanes Ohanian called Abi and Rabi. In 1933 he made his second film titled Haji Agha. Later that year, Abdolhossein Sepanta made the first Iranian sound film, entitled Lor Girl, which was released in 1933 in two Tehran cinemas, Mayak and Sepah. The story of the film was based on a comparison between the state of security in Iran at the end of the Qajar dynasty and during Reza Shah period. Sepanta would go on to direct movies such as Ferdowsi (the life story of the most celebrated epic poet of Iran), Shirin and Farhad (a classic Iranian love story), and Black Eyes (the story of Nader Shah's invasion of India). In 1937, he directed Laili and Majnoon, an Eastern love story similar to the English story of Romeo and Juliet.

The present day Iranian film industry owes much of its progress to two industrious personalities, Esmail Koushan and Farrokh Ghaffari. By establishing the first National Iranian Film Society in 1949 at the Iran Bastan Museum and organizing the first Film Week during which English films were exhibited, Ghaffari laid the foundation for alternative and non-commercial films in Iran.

Early Persian directors like Abdolhossein Sepanta and Esmail Koushan took advantage of the richness of Persian literature and ancient Persian mythology. In their work, they emphasized ethics and humanity.[14]

Pre-revolutionary cinema, 1950s-70s

The 1960s was a significant decade for Iranian cinema, with 25 commercial films produced annually on average throughout the early ‘60s, increasing to 65 by the end of the decade. The majority of production focused on melodrama and thrillers. From 1937 till 1947 because of the world economic conditions and then the involvement in World War Two, the motion picture industry in Iran did not produce a single film, but the flow of foreign film to Iran did not stop. In 1947, Esmail Koushan, With the help of some of his colleagues, he established Mitra Films (1997), the first real film company in Tehran, Iran. Through their persistence, local feature film production was born and survived. The movie that really boost the economy of Iranian cinema and initiated a new genre was Ganj-e Qarun (Croesus Treasure), made in 1965 by Syamak Yasami. Four years later Masoud Kimiai made Kaiser. With Kaiser (Qeysar), Kimiai depicted the ethics and morals of the romanticized poor working class of the Ganj-e-Qarun genre through his main protagonist, the titular Qeysar. But Kimiay's film generated another genre in Iranian popular cinema: the tragic action drama.[15]

With the screening of the films Kaiser and The Cow, directed by Masoud Kimiai and Darius Mehrjui respectively in 1969, alternative film established their status in the film industry.By 1970 Iranian cinema entered into its mature stage. The College of Dramatic Arts, instituted in 1963, produced its first graduates at the decade’s beginning. Many progressive film co-ops and associations came into existence and there were a few regular film festivals taking place in the country. Attempts to organize a film festival that had begun in 1954 within the framework of the Golrizan Festival, bore fruits in the form of the Sepas Film Festival in 1969. The endeavors of Ali Mortazavi also resulted in the formation of the Tehran International Film Festival in 1973. From 1950 to the mid-1960 the Iranian film industry grew rapidly. Many studios were established as well as others that entered the Cycle of the film industry independently. There were 324 films produced during this period 1950 for 1965. By 1965 there were 72 movie theatres in Tehran and 192 in other Provinces. Ebrahim Golestan in 1965 directed by films of interest Brick and Mirror 1965. Bahram Beyzai is the director of one of the ground-breaking films of the Iranian New wave, 1972 Ragbar (Downpour). Sohrab Shahid-Saless is auteur director who embodied his original style in his 1975 film Still Life. Abbas Kiarostami is now a well-known director of the 1990s who directed one of the last films that screened before the revolution in 1978, Gozaresh (The Report).

Post-revolutionary cinema

In the early 1970s, a New Iranian Cinema emerged (cinema motefävet). However, following the Revolution in 1979, a few filmmakers and actors went into exile as Khomeini altered the focus in features. Between 1979 and 1985, about 100 features were released.[16] While Khomeini's censorship remained, the small number of features produced focused on sexual display and European influence.[16]

In 1982, the annual Fajr Film Festival financed films. The Farabi Cinema Foundation then stepped in to try and reassemble the disorganized cinema. The following year, the government began to provide financial aid. This change in regime encouraged a whole new generation of filmmakers, which included female directors as well. With this, the focus shifted to children overcoming obstacles: true stories, lyrical, mystical drama, real-life problems, documentary footage, etc.

Post-revolutionary Iranian cinema has been celebrated in many international forums and festivals for its distinct style, themes, authors, idea of nationhood, and cultural references. Starting With Viva... by Khosrow Sinai and followed by many excellent Iranian directors who emerged in the last few decades, such as Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi. Abbas, who some critics regard as one of the few great directors in the history of cinema,[17] planted Iran firmly on the map of world cinema when Abbas won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Taste of Cherry in 1997.

The continuous presence of Iranian films in prestigious international festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and the Berlin Film Festival attracted world attention to Iranian masterpieces .. In 2006, six Iranian films, of six different styles, represented Iranian cinema at the Berlin Film Festival. Critics considered this a remarkable event in the history of Iranian cinema.[18][19]

An important step was taken in 1998 when the Iranian government began to fund ethnic cinema. Since then Iranian Kurdistan has seen the rise of numerous filmmakers. In particular, the film industry got momentum in Iranian Kurdistan and the region has seen the emergence of filmmakers such as Bahman Ghobadi, actually the entire Ghobadi family, Ali-Reza Rezai, Khosret Ressoul and many other younger filmmakers.[20]

There is also movie-documentary production, often critical of the society in the name of the Islamic revolution ideal, like the films directed by Mohammedreza Eslamloo.

By the year 2001 the number of features produced in Iran rose to 87 (from 28, which is the number of films that were produced in 1980, after the fall of the Shah). The most popular genres were melodramas and historical pageants which seldom went to festivals. In 1997, the newly elected president, Mohammed Khatemi, would eventually come to play a role in helping filmmakers achieve a certain degree of artistic freedom.[21]

Contemporary Iranian cinema

Today, the Iranian box office is dominated by commercial Iranian films. Western films are occasionally shown in movie theaters. Classic and contemporary Hollywood productions are shown on state television. Iranian art films are often not screened officially, and are viewable via unlicensed DVDs which are easily available. Nevertheless, some of these acclaimed films were screened in Iran and had box office success. Examples include Rassul Sadr Ameli's "I’m Taraneh, 15", Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's "Under the skin of the City", Bahman Ghobadi's "Marooned in Iraq" and Manijeh Hekmat's "Women's Prison".[22]

Commercial cinema in Iran

Ganj-e Qarun (1965)

The internationally award-winning cinema of Iran is quite different from the domestically oriented films. The latter caters to an entirely different audience, which is largely under the age of 25. This commercial Iranian cinema genre is largely unknown in the West, as the films are targeted at local audiences. There are Three categories of this type of film:

  • Films before the revolution.

Lor Girl, A Party in Hell, Qeysar, Dar Emtedade Shab, Amir Arsalan, and Ganj-e Qarun.

  • Films about the victory of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the ensuing Iran–Iraq war and Action filled with strong religious and national motifs.

Eagles, Barzakhiha, The Viper, Dadshah, Boycott, Duel, Taraj, Ekhrajiha, The Glass Agency, Kani Manga, Ofogh, Bashu, the Little Stranger, Leily Ba Man Ast, M as in Mother and The Night Bus.

For many years, the most visible face of Iranian commercial cinema was Mohammad Ali Fardin, who starred in a number of popular successful films. In the more conservative social climate of Iran after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, however, he came to be considered an embarrassment to Iranian national identity and his films — which depicted romance, alcohol, vulgarity, objectification of women, scantily-dressed men and women, nightclubs, and a vulgar lifestyle now condemned by the Islamic government — were banned. Although this would effectively prevent Fardin from making films for the remainder of his life, the ban did little to diminish his broad popularity with Iranian moviegoers: His funeral in Tehran was attended by 20,000 mourners.[27] Before Fardin, one could argue, Iran simply did not have a commercial cinema.[28]

During the war years, crime thrillers such as Senator, The Eagles, Boycott, The Tenants, and Kani Manga occupied the first position on the sales charts.[29]

Officially, the Iranian government disdains American cinema: in 2007 President Ahmadinejad's media adviser told the Fars news agency, "We believe that the American cinema system is devoid of all culture and art and is only used as a device."[30] However, numerous Western commercial films such as Jaws, The Illusionist, Passion of the Christ, House of Sand and Fog, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Sherlock Holmes, Alpha and Omega, Scarface, Casino Royale, The Mechanic, and The Aviator have been screened in Iranian cinemas and Iranian film festivals since the revolution. Despite great pride in the country's more than 100-year film history, Western cinema is enormously popular among Iran's young people, and practically every recent Hollywood film is available on CD, DVD, or video.[22][31][32][33] State television has also broadcast more Western movies—partly because millions of Iranians have been switching to the use of banned satellite television equipment.[33]

Iranian New Wave films

Bahram Bayzai, voted the best Persian filmmaker of all time in 2002

Iranian New Wave refers to a new movement in Iranian cinema. According to film critic Eric Henderson, the acclaimed documentary The House Is Black (خانه سیاه است) directed by Forough Farrokhzad (famous Iranian poet and director) paved the way for the Iranian New Wave.[34] The movement started in 1964 with Hajir Darioush's second film Serpent's Skin, which was based on D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover featuring Fakhri Khorvash and Jamshid Mashayekhi. Darioush's two important early social documentaries But Problems Arose in 1965, dealing with the cultural alienation of the Iranian youth, and Face 75, a critical look at the westernization of the rural culture, which was a prizewinner at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival, were also contributing significantly to the establishment of the New Wave.

In 1969, after the release of The Cow directed by Darius Mehrjui followed by Masoud Kimiai's Qeysar, and Nasser Taqvai's Calm in Front of Others, the New Wave became well established as a prominent cultural, dynamic and intellectual trend. The Iranian viewer became discriminating, encouraging the new trend to prosper and develop.[35] In the 1960s, there were 'New Wave' movements in the cinema of numerous countries. The pioneers of the Iranian New Wave were directors like Forough Farrokhzad, Sohrab Shahid Saless, Bahram Beizai, and Parviz Kimiavi. They made innovative art films with highly political and philosophical tones and poetic language. Subsequent films of this type have become known as the New Iranian cinema to distinguish them from their earlier roots. The most notable figures of the Iranian New Wave are Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Majid Majidi, Bahram Beizai, Darius Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Khosrow Sinai, Sohrab Shahid-Saless, Parviz Kimiavi, Samira Makhmalbaf, Amir Naderi, and Abolfazl Jalili.

The factors leading to the rise of the New Wave in Iran were, in part, due to the intellectual and political movements of the time. A romantic climate was developing after the 19 August 1953 coup in the sphere of arts. Alongside this, a socially committed literature took shape in the 1950s and reached a peak in the 1960s, which may consider as the golden era of contemporary Persian literature.[36]

Features of New Wave Iranian film, in particular the works of legendary Abbas Kiarostami, can be classified as postmodern.[37]

Iranian New Wave films shared some characteristics with the European art films of the period, in particular Italian Neorealism. However, in her article 'Real Fictions', Rose Issa argues that Iranian films have a distinctively Iranian cinematic language

"that champions the poetry in everyday life and the ordinary person by blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality, feature film with documentary." She also argues that this unique approach has inspired European cinema directors to emulate this style, citing Michael Winterbottom's award winning In This World (2002) as an homage to contemporary Iranian cinema. Issa claims that "This new, humanistic aesthetic language, determined by the film-makers’ individual and national identity, rather than the forces of globalism, has a strong creative dialogue not only on home ground but with audiences around the world."[38]

In his book Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future (2001) Hamid Dabashi describes modern Iranian cinema and the phenomenon of [Iranian] national cinema as a form of cultural modernity. According to Dabashi, "the visual possibility of seeing the historical person (as opposed to the eternal Qur'anic man) on screen is arguably the single most important event allowing Iranians access to modernity."

While Beyzai and Taghvai represent the first generation and Karim-Masihi and Kiarostami represent the second generation of New wave filmmakers, the third generation is represented by Rafi Pitts, Bahman Ghobadi, Maziar Miri, Asghar Farhadi, Mani Haghighi, and Babak Payami,[39][40] along with newly emerged filmmakers such as Saman Salur and Abdolreza Kahani.

Iranian popular art films

Parallel to the Iranian New Wave, with its neorealist and minimalist art cinema, there exists a so-called "popular art cinema" in Iran. Filmmakers who belong to this circle make films with a broader range of audience than the narrow spectrum of highly educated people who admire the New Wave, but believe that their movies are also artistically sound. Filmmakers such as Nasser Taghvaee and Ali Hatami are the best examples of this cinematic movement (some of these filmmakers also make new wave films e.g. Mum's Guest by Darius Mehrjui).[36] The Demon and the Bald Hassan, Adam and Eve, The Fisherman's Story, City of Oranges, and Talisman are some of Hatami's works.

Iranian women's cinema

Following the rise of the Iranian New Wave, there are now record numbers of film school graduates in Iran and each year more than 20 new directors make their debut films, many of them women. In the last two decades, there have been a higher percentage of women directors in Iran than in most countries in the West.[38] Samira Makhmalbaf directed her first film, The Apple, when she was only 17 years old and won the Cannes Jury Prize in 2000 for her following film The Blackboard.

The success and hard work of the pioneering Rakhshan Bani-Etemad is an example that many women directors in Iran were following much before Samira Makhmalbaf made the headlines And the current Tahmineh Milani, Niki Karimi.[41] Internationally recognized figures in Iranian women's cinema are:

Besides women involved in screenwriting and filmmaking, numerous award winning Iranian actresses with uniques styles and talents attract critic. The first Iranian actress who won an award for acting in a major film festival was Mary Apick. The most notable Iranian actresses are:

Shohreh Aghdashloo is the only Iranian to be nominated for an academy award in acting

Iranian war films

War cinema in Iran was born simultaneously with the beginning of Iran–Iraq War. However, it took many years until it found its way and identity by defining characteristics of Iranian war cinema. Shows the most poematic view on the Iran Iraq war and still after years, is one of the leading films about this historical event from a humanistic aspect, although unlike other Iranian war cinema which are fully supported by the Iranian government this film was made with numerous difficulties. In the past decades, the Iranian film industry has produced many war films. In the Iranian war film genre, war has often been portrayed as glorious and "holy", bringing out the good in the protagonist and pandering to nationalist sentiments with propagandistic messaging. Tears of Cold and Duel were two films that have gone beyond the traditional view of war.[42] Many renowned directors were involved in developing Iranian war cinema:[43]

Other films famous and popular Iran Iraq War: Goodbye Life directed by Ensieh Shah-Hosseini, Heeva, Mazrae-ye pedari and Safar be Chazabeh directed by Rasoul Mollagholipour, Kirkuk Operation, Hoor on Fire and Kani Manga directed by Seifollah Dad. Che, Az Karkheh ta Rhein, Mohajer and The Red Ribbon directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia. Big Drum Under Left Foot directed by Kazem Masoumi. Gilaneh directed by Rakhshan Bani-E'temad. The Day Third directed by Mohammad Hossein Latifi. The Reward of Silence directed by Maziar Miri. Sizdah 59 directed by Saman Salur. The Queen directed by Mohammad Ali Bashe Ahangar. Mardi shabih-e baran directed by Saeed Soheili. Bashu, the Little Stranger directed by Bahram Beyzai. Snake Fang directed by Masoud Kimiai and Hoor dar Atash directed by Azizollah Hamidnezhad.

Iranian animations

There exist some evidences suggesting that Ancient Iranians made animations. An animated piece on an earthen goblet made 5000 years ago was found in Burnt City in Sistan-Baluchistan province, southeastern Iran. The artist has portrayed a goat that jumps toward a tree and eats its leaves.[44]

The first Tehran International Animation Festival was held in 1999, four decades after the time the production of first animation films in Iran. The Second Tehran International Animation Festival was held in February 2001. Apart from Iranian films, animations from 35 foreign countries participated in the festival.[45]

The following are among the notable filmmakers of Iranian animated films:

Timeline of Iranian films

Influence of Iranians on Other's New Wave

Amongst the pioneers of French New Wave were François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer or Barbet Schroeder (born in Tehran, Iran in 1941 where his German geologist Father was on assignment).

During the first half of the 20th century, France was the major destination for Iranian students who wished to study abroad. Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Fereydoun Hoveyda was one of them. Fereydoun Hoveyda played a major role in French cultural scene and especially in the field of Cinema, for he was the protégé of François Truffaut whom he befriended and with whom he helped create the well-known film magazine Les Cahiers du Cinéma that spearheaded the French Nouvelle Vague or New Wave Cinema. He also worked closely with Italian film director Roberto Rossellini on several film scripts during that period. Fereydoun Hoveyda was not the only Iranian of his generation to play an active role in promoting the French Cinéma d'Auteur. Youssef Ishaghpour is another example.[46]

Another Iranian figure in French New Wave was Shusha Guppy a singer, writer and filmmaker who was Jacques Prévert's girlfriend. However, the most important contribution to the French New Wave cinema is that of Serge Rezvani an Iranian poet born in Tehran in 1928. He played a major role as music composer of both François Truffaut Jules et Jim and Jean-Luc Godard Pierrot le Fou, considered as landmarks of French New Wave Cinema. Farah Diba studied at the Beaux Arts and became the focus of attention and the French press was to see her as the new Persian Cinderella. Farah Diba was one of the rare foreign dignitaries to become a permanent member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts.

Iranian Robert Hossein (son of legendary musician Aminollah Hossein) started his acting career with his French Armenian friend Chahnour Varinag Aznavourian (known as the famed crooner Charles Aznavour) in the mid fifties essentially type cast as "Mr. Tough Guy". However he got international acclaim in the early Sixties particularly in Europe, Russia and Asia as the mysterious "Jeoffrey, Comte de Peyrac" lover of the lovely Michèle Mercier in the soft erotic-adventure film series of Angélique Marquise des Anges. In the seventies and eighties he was to play opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo in police thrillers like The Professional. Hossein became known for being a talented theater director and his taste for popular historical vehicles involving large sets and numerous actors.[46]

After the resignation of French President Charles de Gaulle, Iranian Anicée Shahmanesh became known under the screen name Anicée Alvina, playing a French girl in a British film hit called Friends, the music score of which propelled British pop star Elton John. She was also to take on a courageous lesbian role in the screen adaptation of Françoise Mallet-Joris' novel Le Rempart des Béguines.

Two major documentaries were produced in these years by respectively Agnès Varda and the duo Claude Lelouch-Claude Pinoteau.

Agnès Varda, first to be discovered to young actor Gérard Depardieu in her 1970 film Nausicaa, directed a love story set in Isfahan (1976) between a French woman (Valérie Mairesse) visiting Iran as a tourist and her guide an Iranian Man (Ali Raffi). The film was entitled Plaisir D'Amour en Iran. The romantic film was shot on location in The Masjed Shah.

Claude Pinoteau and Claude Lelouch on the other hand shot their documentary just after the Persepolis Celebrations in 1971. They decided to address the urban transformations and cultural emancipation that the country was subject to by the early seventies.

Several Iranian expats such as Philippe Khorsand or Persian play writer/actor Yasmina Reza have also gained notice in recent years. The latter is particularly known for her highly intellectual introspections in such plays like Art (Sean Connery bought the film rights advised by his French wife).[46]

Music in Iranian cinema

Although Iranian composers usually have their own special style and music structure, they all share one thing: melodic, lively rhythms. That might be because they often begin with folkloric songs and shift to film music. In the past few decades, a few composers have emerged in the Iranian cinema with highly appraised works. Composers like Hormoz Farhat, Morteza Hannaneh, Fariborz Lachini, Ahmad Pejman, Majid Entezami, Babak Bayat, Karen Homayounfar, Naser Cheshmazar and Hossein Alizadeh were some of the most successful score composers for Iranian films in the past decades.[47]

Iranian international film festivals

Film festivals have a rather long history in Iran that goes back to the 1950s. The first Tehran International Film Festival opened in April 1973. Although the festival never reached the level of Cannes and Venice, however, it managed to become well known as a class A festival. It was a highly reputable festival and many well-known filmmakers took part in it with their films. Great filmmakers such as Francesco Rosi, Michelangelo Antonioni Grigori Kozintsev, Elizabeth Taylor, Pietro Germi, Nikita Mikhalkov, Krzysztof Zanussi, Martin Ritt won the festival's awards.[48]

Simorgh. The top prize of Fajr film festival is called the Crystal Simorgh, after the mythical creature.

Fajr Film Festival

The Fajr International Film Festival has taken place since 1983. It was intended to be as magnificent and spectacular as possible from its very onset. It had a background as powerful as that of the Tehran International Film Festival and wanted to remain on the same track. Although the Fajr Film Festival is not yet classed among the top film festivals, it has been successful in making policies and setting examples for the future of Iranian cinema.[48] In its early years it had a competition section for professional as well as amateur film (8 mm, 16 mm). Since 1990, there has been an international along with the national competition. The festival also features a competition for advertisement items like posters, stills and trailers. In 2005, the festival added competitions for Asian as well as spiritual films. The top prize is called Crystal Simorgh.[49]

NAM Filmmakers' Meeting

Iran is the current President of the Non-Aligned Movement and hosted the 16th NAM summit between 26 and 31 August 2012, after which the presidency was handed to Ahmadinejad on 1 September. The latest move by the NAM Chairman has been to organise a NAM filmmakers' meeting in order to discuss the establishment of a NAM filmmakers' union. The meeting is to be held in February 2013, concurrently with the 31st Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran.[50]

International Children Film Festival

This International Film Festival of Children and Young Adults has taken place since 1985. In its first three years, it was part of the Fajr Film Festival. From 1988 to 1989, it was located in Tehran and in 1996, it was held in Kerman. The festival features international and national film and video competitions. The top prize is called Golden Butterfly.[51]

House of Cinema Ceremony

On September 12, the national day of Iranian cinema, a celebration is held annually by the House of Cinema. In the 2006 event, Akira Kurosawa was honored.

Noor Iranian Film Festival

Founded in 2007, the Noor Iranian Film Festival is held annually in Los Angeles, California.

Iranian Film Festival (IFF)

Iranian Film Festival (IFF) is an annual event showcasing independent feature and short films made by or about Iranians from around the world in San Francisco.

London Iranian Film Festival

is an annual, independent film festival held in London, United Kingdom. It is now entering its fourth year. It is the only festival in the UK that is dedicated to Iranian independent cinema, with this year's event taking place from the 1st to the 9th of November.

Roshd International Film Festival

Roshd International Film Festival was first staged in 1963 by the Bureau of Audio-visual Activities of the Ministry of Education of Iran. It is centered on the films with educational and pedagogical themes and is staged every year by the Supplying Educational Media Center, a sub-branch of the Ministry of Education of the I.R.Iran. The Festival seeks the main objectives of identifying and selecting the best educational and pedagogical films in order to introduce them to the educational systems.

Persian International Film Festival

Persian International Film Festival is an independent cultural film event, that brings together screen stories of diverse global Persian communities. Founded in 2012, it is Located in Sydney, Australia.

Iranian Film Festival Zurich

Iranian Film Festival of Zürich (IFFZ), is being organized to fulfill the cultural gap between Iranians and Swiss along with the foreigners living in Switzerland. The festival also wishes to contribute to the host country by bringing every year the best feature, documentary and short films from all generation of the Iranian filmmakers to Zürich. The IFFZ wishes that this becomes a platform for presenting the Iranian culture and tradition and build a bridge in such an exceptional city of Zürich among many nations present by the universal language of art and specifically the 7th art, cinema. iranianfilmfestival.ch

Festival of Iranian Films in Prague

The main goal of the festival is to provide a vivid image of Iranian cinema for a wide range of international audiences in the Prague, Czech Republic.

Iranian Film Festival Cologne

Iranian film Festival is programmed to be held in the city of Koln in Germany to represent the country Cinema industry. House of Cinema in collaboration with Cologne Municipality paved the way for holding the festival.

The Festival Cinema of Iran

Iranian film festival (Cinéma D'Iran) is scheduled to kick off on June 26 and will run until July 2, 2013 in Paris.

Houston Iranian Film Festival

The Houston Iranian Film Festival showcases the best in new cinema from Iran. Iranian film varied by jury is, In Houston, America will be held.

Tehran International Animation Festival

International Animation Festival in Iran Held in Tehran.

Other Festival

Other valid festival like: Iran International Documentary Film Festival, Moqavemat International Film Festival, International Film Festival 100, International Urban Film Festival, International Parvin Etesami Film Festival, Jasmine International Film Festival (TJIFF), Celebration of Iran Cinematic Critics and Writers, Rouyesh Religious Short Film Festival, Iranian Youth Cinema Society, Edinburgh Iranian Festival, Iranian Film Festival (IFF), Iranian Film Festival Chandigarh, Film Festival, Varesh Short Film Festival, Tehran International Video Film Festival, International Festival of Independent Filmmakers, and Canada's Iranian Film Festival.

International recognition of Iranian cinema

Here is a list of Grand prizes awarded to Iranian cinema by the most prestigious film festivals:[52][53]

Abbas Kiarostami is the only Iranian director who has won Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival

Cannes

First presence of Iranian cinema in Cannes dates back to 1991 when in the alleys of love by Khosrow Sinai and then 1992 when Life and nothing more won Palme d'Or by Abbas Kiarostami represented Iran in the festival.

Academy Awards (Oscars)

A Separation is the first Iranian film to win the academy award for the best foreign language film

Golden Globe Awards

Venice

Jafar Panahi is the only Iranian director who has won Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival
[56]

Berlin

Locarno

The first film from Iranian cinema that won a prize in Locarno festival was Where Is the Friend's Home? directed by Abbas Kiarostami (1989).

London

Bahman Ghobadi has won two Golden Shell awards at San Sebastian Film Festival

San Sebastian

Majid Majidi has won three Grand Prix awards at Montreal Film Festival

Montreal

Karlovy Vary

Mar del Plata

Thessaloniki

Reza Mirkarimi has won two Golden George awards at Moscow Film Festival

Moscow

Chicago

Shanghai

  • Golden Goblet: Khosro Masumi (2004 & 2012)

Warsaw

Shahab Hosseini has won two major acting awards at 69th Cannes Film Festival & 61st Berlin International Film Festival (as a member of the actors ensemble)

Goa

Festroia

Rotterdam

Busan

Sydney

Nantes

Sitges

Istanbul

  • Golden Tulip: Saeed Ebrahimifar (1990), Jafar Panahi (1998)

Cairo

Lifelong achievement Awards


Bodil Awards

Satellite Award

César Award

David di Donatello Award

National Board of Review

Censorship

Although the Iranian film industry is flourishing, its filmmakers have operated under censorship rules, both before and after the revolution. Some Iranian films that have been internationally acclaimed are banned in Iran itself. Conversely, some Iranian filmmakers have faced hostility in other countries.

Censorship within Iran

Dariush Mehrjui's seminal film Gaav (The Cow, 1969) is now considered a pioneering work of the Iranian New Wave. The film was sponsored by the state, but they promptly banned it upon completion because its vision of rural life clashed with the progressive image of Iran that the Shah wished to project, while its prominence at international film festivals annoyed the regime.[67]

After the Iranian revolution, filmmakers experienced more restrictions. Since the mid-1980s, Iran's policy on film censorship has been changed in order to promote domestic film production: the strict censorship eased after December 1987. Old directors resurfaced and new ones emerged.[67] However, the application of the rules is often inconsistent. Several films have been refused release inside Iran, but have been given export permits to enter international film festivals. Even here, the censorship is inconsistent: May Lady by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (1998) got through but her contribution to Stories of Kish (1999) did not.[68]

All of Jafar Panahi's films[69] have been banned from public theaters in Iran.[70] Offside was relegated to "a guest slot" at the International Fajr Film Festival. "It was not shown as an important film", says Panahi. "They didn't give any value to it."[70] Several of Mohsen Makhmalbaf's films are also banned in Iran. For example, Time of Love and The night of Zaiandeh-rood were banned for dealing with physical love and for raising doubts about the revolution.[71]

In 2001, feminist filmmaker Tahmineh Milani who made The Hidden Half was jailed because her movie was presumed anti-revolution (against the 1979 Islamic revolution). Many Iranian and international artists and filmmakers demanded her release. After 8 days of Imprisonment, Eventually President Khatami and the Minister of Culture were able to secure her release. In Nargess, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad who is a pioneer among female Iranian film directors, pushes censorship codes to the limits, questioning the morals of society, showing desperate people overwhelmed by social conditions and a couple living together without being married.[72]

Abbas Kiarostami was significantly acclaimed in Europe but the Islamic government has refused screening of his films in his own country. Kiarostami's films have been banned in his country for more than 10 years.[73] They are only accessible there through unauthorized DVDs and private screenings. Kiarostami is uncertain what the government dislikes about his films, saying "I think they don't understand my films and so they prevent them being shown just in case there is a message they don't want to get out."[1]. Despite this, Kiarostami has displayed an extraordinarily benign perspective, at least in recorded interviews: "The government is not in my way, but it is not assisting me either. We lead our separate lives."[74] Despite the censorship, Kiarostami insists on working in Iran, saying "I think I really produce my best work in Iran."[74] He believes that throughout the ages and all over the world censorship has existed in one form or another and artists have managed to live with this, saying "Today, the most important thing is that, although there is censorship, Iranian filmmakers are doing their job and they surpass the difficulties of censorship showing and discussing many things. So why ask me about what's not in the films? It has happened many times that a filmmaker hides a weakness under the excuse of censorship but difficulties have always existed in our lifestyle and our role is to surpass them."[75] The director Mohammed Rasoulof, was convicted of charges relating to state security and anti-government propaganda.[76] In 2009 and 2013 the number of political films and drama like Khers, Guidance Patrol, The Wooden Bridge, I am a Mother and Private Life (Zendegi Khosoosi) were Sanctioned.

House of Cinema temporary closure

In December 2011, Iran’s Council of Public Culture declared its ‘House of Cinema’, the country’s largest professional organisation for film makers, illegal.[77] Authorities state the organization was shut down because of secret amendments to its charter.[78] House of Cinema came under pressure when it challenged the detention of filmmakers accused of selling films to the BBC.[79]

In September 2013, House of Cinema has been reopened by the new government.[80]

In September 2011, House of Cinema issued a statement in support of several filmmakers detained for contact with the BBC. They questioned the legal basis for the arrests, pointing out that the government itself has contact with international news organizations.[81] As a result, they received an official rebuke.[82][83]

Hostility outside Iran

Given the tense relationship between Iran and the United States, Iranian filmmakers have faced hostility there, even if they have also been banned in their own country. Abbas Kiarostami was refused a visa to attend the New York Film Festival, Ohio University and Harvard University in 2002, in the wake of the September 11 attacks.[84][85][86] Festival director Richard Pena, who had invited him, said: "It's a terrible sign of what's happening in my country today that no one seems to realize or care about the kind of negative signal this sends out to the entire Muslim world".[87] Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki boycotted the festival in protest.[88] Similarly, Bahman Ghobadi, winner of the Golden Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival, refused to accept the prize in protest of the U.S. government's refusal to issue him a visa.[89] In 2007, Ahmed Issawi, the abashed Arab director of the New York South Asian Film Festival admitted that a conscious decision was made not to invite any Iranian filmmakers, saying "That's a territory I no longer want to tread [...] It's over. Given the whole thing with Iran—I refuse to approach it."[90]

Several other Iranian filmmakers have experienced hostilities from other countries. In November 2001 in Afghanistan, Taliban officials, who banned movies and most filmmaking, arrested three of Majid Majidi's crew members who were helping him secretly shoot Barefoot to Herat, a documentary on the country's internal refugees.[91] Samira Makhmalbaf also survived a kidnapping in Afghanistan. {West, Dennis and Makhmalbaf, Mohsen. "I Make Cinema in Order to Breathe: An Interview with Mohsen Makhmalbaf". Cinéaste. 34.4, Fall 2009: 10-15. JSTOR Web. 24 Apr. 2014}

In March 2007, a bomb explosion severely injuring several actors and crew members halted production in Afghanistan of Two Legged Horse, the film by Iranian helmer Samira Makhmalbaf. Mohsen Makhmalbaf was the target of two unsuccessful murder attempts when he shot Kandahar in Iran near the Afghan border in 2000, and his daughter Hana was twice the victim of a failed abduction attempt during the shooting of Samira's last film At Five in the Afternoon in the Afghan capital Kabul in 2002.[92]

Arresting filmmakers

On 1 March 2010,Jafar Panahi was arrested. He was taken from his home along with his wife Tahereh Saidi, daughter Solmaz Panahi, and 15 of his friends by plain-clothes officers to Evin Prison. Most were released 48 hours later, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mehdi Pourmoussa on 17 March 2010, but Panahi remained in section 209 inside Evin Prison. Panahi's arrest was confirmed by the government, but the charges were not specified.On April 14, 2010, Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance said that Panahi was arrested because he "tried to make a documentary about the unrest that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."On 18 May, Panahi sent a message to Abbas Baktiari, director of the Pouya Cultural Center, an Iranian-French cultural organization in Paris, stating that he was being mistreated in prison and his family threatened and as a result had begun a hunger strike. On 25 May, he was released on $200,000 bail while awaiting trial.On 20 December 2010, Panahi, after being convicted for "assembly and colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic," the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Panahi to six years imprisonment and a 20-year ban on making or directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media as well as leaving the country except for Hajj holy pilgrimage to Mecca or medical treatment. Panahi's colleague, Mohammad Rasoulof also received six years imprisonment but was later reduced to one year on appeal.On October 15, 2011, a court in Tehran upheld Panahi's sentence and ban. Following the courts decision, Panahi was placed under house arrest. He has since been allowed to move more freely but he cannot travel outside Iran.[93][94][95]

Hossein Rajabian, an Iranian independent filmmaker, After finishing his first feature film, was arrested by Iranian security forces on 5 October 2013 outside his office [in Sari] alongside two musicians, and was transferred to Ward 2-A of Evin Prison where all three of them were held in solitary confinement for more than two months and were threatened with televised confessions. He was released on bail (around $66,000) in mid-December, pending trial. Two years later, his case was heard at Branch 28 of Tehran Revolutionary Court which was presided over by Judge Moghisseh (Summer 2015). He was sentenced to six years in prison and fines for pursuing illegal cinematic activities, launching propaganda against the establishment and hurling insults at sanctities. On appeal, his sentence was changed to three years imprisonment and three years of suspended jail and Fines.Hossein Rajabian was sent to the ward 7 of Evin Prison in Tehran. After spending one third of his total period of imprisonment (that is 11 months), he went on hunger strike to protest against unjust trial, lack of medical facilities, and transfer of his brother to another ward called section 8 of the same prison. During the first hunger strike period, which lasted 14 days, he was transferred to hospital because of pulmonary infection and he could not continue his hunger strike because of the interference of the representative of the prosecutor who was sent as an intermediary. After some time, he sent an open letter to the judicial authorities of Iran and went again on strike which brought him the supports of international artists. After 36 days of hunger strike, he could convince the judicial authorities of Iran to review his case and grant him medical leave for the treatment of his left kidney suffered from infections and blood arising out of hunger strike. he, after a contentious struggle with the judicial officer of the prison was sent to the ward 8 for punishment.[96][97][98][99][100]

Cinemapeople in the Iranian diaspora

Cinemapeople in the Iranian diaspora, such as Shohreh Aghdashloo, Zuleikha Robinson, Nadia Bjorlin, Shirin Neshat, Adrian Pasdar, Amir Mokri, Bahar Soomekh, Amir Talai Catherine Bell, Nazanin Boniadi, Samira Makhmalbaf, Freema Agyeman, Sarah Shahi, Hughes brothers, Nasim Pedrad, Daryush Shokof, and Farhad Safinia are also popular.

Film Institutes in Iran

Several institutes, both government run and private, provide formal education in various aspects of filmmaking. Some of the prominent ones include: Farabi Cinema Foundation, Hedayat Film Co, Sourehcinema, Documentary & Experimental Film Center, Filmiran, Kanoon Iran Novin, Boshra Film, Bamdad Film, TDH Film, Hilaj Film, Tgpco, Karname, Rasaneha, AvinyFilm and 7spfs.

Iranian film critics

Most famous of them like: Houshang Golmakani, Bahman Maghsoudlou, Fereydoun Jeyrani, Parviz Davaei, Masoud Ferasati, Abbas Baharloo, Hamid Reza Sadr, Cyrus Ghani, Javad Toosi, Negar Mottahedeh, Ahmad Talebinejad, Mohammad Tahami Nezhad, Ali Moallem and Parviz Nouri.

See also

References

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  2. ^ Salehi Amiri, Reza. "سالانه 200 فیلم در ایران ساخته می‌شود". ILNA. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Table 11: Exhibition - Admissions & Gross Box Office (GBO)". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
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  5. ^ Abbas Kiarostami: Articles & Interviews
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  7. ^ Honour, Hugh and John Fleming, The Visual Arts: A History. New Jersey, Prentice Hall Inc, 1992. Page: 96.
  8. ^ a b c Iranian Cinema: Before the Revolution
  9. ^ M. Ali Issari, Cinema in Iran: 1900-1979 pages 40-67.
  10. ^ a b The history of Iranian cinema, Part I by Masoud Mehrabi
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  17. ^ Kiarostami Will Carry Us; The Iranian Master Gives Hope
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  28. ^ Farewell to Fardin: Death of legendary actor marks end of an era
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  30. ^ "Ahmadinejad turns down chance to star in Oliver Stone film", The Guardian, July 2, 2007.
  31. ^ Sixteen foreign films to compete at Fajr Festival
  32. ^ Iran Daily - Arts & Culture - 12/13/06
  33. ^ a b No more ‘feminist’ or pro-US films in Iran!
  34. ^ Eric Henderson (February 22, 2005). "The House is Black". Slant. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
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  43. ^ History of Iranian war cinema
  44. ^ First Animation of the World Found In Burnt City
  45. ^ Tehran International Animation Festival (2nd Festival 2001)
  46. ^ a b c The Modern Magazine for Persian Celebrations, Cuisine, Culture & Community
  47. ^ Music in Iranian cinema
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  51. ^ Isfahan International Festival of Films for Children & Young Adults on IMDb
  52. ^ Film Festival Guide
  53. ^ Locarno festival ranked 4th after Cannes, Venice and Berlin
  54. ^ List of The Secret Ballot (2001) awards
  55. ^ List of awards received by Marzieh Meshkini
  56. ^ List of awards received by Sohrab Shahid Saless
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  61. ^ Touraj Aslani won Jury Prize for Best Cinematography
  62. ^ List of awards received by Khosrow Sinai
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  64. ^ 24th Moscow Film Festival winners announced
  65. ^ Arash T. Riahi won the Silver Hugo
  66. ^ 32nd Warsaw Film Festival winners announced
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  92. ^ Bomber targets Makhmalbaf
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Further reading

  • Umid, Jamal, Tarikh-i sinima-yi Iran : 1279-1357 / Jamal Umid = [The history of Iranian cinema] : [1900-1978] / [Jamal Omid] 1175 pages. Illustrated. Press:Teheran Rawzanah. Year:1374[1995]. Language:Persian.
  • Displaced Allegories: Post-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema (Duke University Press, 2008). ISBN 978-0-8223-4275-5
  • Hamid Dabashi, Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, and Future, 320 p. (Verso, London, 2001). ISBN 1-85984-332-8
  • Hamid Dabashi, Masters & Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema, 451 p. (Mage Publishers, Washington, D.C., 2007) ISBN 0-934211-85-X
  • Gönül Dönmez-Colin, Cinemas of the Other, Intellect (April, 2006) ISBN 978-1-84150-143-7
  • Hamid Reza Sadr, Iranian Cinema: A Political History, I.B.Tauris (2006). ISBN 978-1-84511-146-5
  • Najmeh Khalili Mahani, Women of Iranian Popular Cinema: Projection of Progress, Offscreen, Vol. 10, Issue 7, July 31, 2006, [2].
  • Hester, Elizabeth J. "Cinema in Iran: A Selective Annotated Bibliography of Dissertations and Theses" ISBN 978-1493505494.
  • K. Talattof & A.A. Seyed-Gohrab (eds.), Conflict and Development in Iranian Film (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2013). ISBN 978-908-72-8169-4

External links

  • IFILM TV - Iranian TV Channel on Cinema
  • IRIB MEDIA TRADE
  • Soureh Pictures
  • Iranian Movies Forum
  • 50 Essential Iranian Films
  • mooweex : Iranian Online Cinema
  • Iranian film industry thriving, Hollywood learns - CNN
  • Encyclopedia of Iranian cinema (in Persian)
  • Iranian Cinema: Before the Revolution
  • Iranian New Wave (Post-1997 Cinema)
  • Iranian Cinema in Western eye
  • The history of Iranian cinema: Time for intellectuals
  • Iranian cinema & performance arts
  • Iran Film
  • Iranian OSCAR: Annual Celebration of Iranian Cinema
  • Women of Iranian Popular Cinema
  • Nantes festival director calls Iranian cinema one of world’s best
  • History of Cinema in Tajikistan: The Iranian influence (in Persian)
  • Review on Starting of Iranian Documentary Films
  • Watch Iranian CINEMA DOCUMENTARY. The history of Iranian Cinema DOCUMENTARY
  • Reza Talachian, 1984, A Brief Critical History of Iranian Feature Film (1896–1975), Iran Chamber Society.
  • Film International, Iranian Film Quarterly [3]
  • Farabi Cinema Foundation
  • Tehran International Short Film Festival
  • Iran's film industry (2011 PressTV)
  • Political cinema in Iran (2011 PressTV)
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