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Iranian Cinema

Junaid Suleman

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Sequence of
Presentation
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

Introduction
Historical Evolution
Influences on Iranian Cinema
Techniques
Major Themes
International fame
Lessons Learnt
Conclusion
Recommended Movies

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Introduction
Iranian Cinema has been lauded worldwide
for its artistic maturity , simplicity of
techniques and diversity of themes.
Couched in Iranian social, cultural and
political experience, it has emerged as a
vibrant industry.
In its significance and influence, it has
been compared to Italian and French film
industries.
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Historical Evolution

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Historical evolution of Iranian Cinema can


be studied in three phases:
1. Pre-Revolutionary Phase (1900-1978)
2. Post-Revolutionary Phase (1979-1990)
3. Contemporary era (1990-Today)

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Historical Evolution

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Pre-Revolutionary Phase
Iranian film industry took birth at the
beginning of 20th Century.
First Persian Film-maker was Mirza
Ebhrahim Khan who opened the first
movie theatre in Tehran in 1904.

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Historical Evolution

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First silent movie was made by Prof.


Ohanian called Haji Agha in 1930. He
also opened the first film art school in
Tehran.
Abdul Hussain made the first sound movie
Lor Girl in 1932.
During Shah era, on average 70 movies
were produced annually but movies
making social and political critique were
banned completely.
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Historical Evolution

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Focus was on melodramas and thrillers.


Notable movies of this era are The Cow,
Kaiser and The House is Black.
Notable directors are Sohrab Shahid,
Masoud Kimai, Bahram Beyzai etc.

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Historical Evolution

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Post-Revolutionary Phase
The first few years after revolution were
uncertain for film industry.
The new regime considered films as tool of
Western cultural imperialism.
Attempts were made to Islamize the
industry under Ministry of Culture and
Islamic Guidance. Strict censorship rules
were introduced.
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Historical Evolution

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During Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988), the new


regime realized use of films as tool of
propaganda.
In late 1980s, cinema was revived due to
innovative methods employed by directors
to bypass censorship, public demand for
movies and government support,
especially under President Muhammad
Khatami.
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Historical Evolution

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Contemporary Era
Todays Iranian film industry is considered
to be one of the most exciting film
industry in world.
Two main types of movies are made:
Commercial
Alternative

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Historical Evolution

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Famous directors are Abbas Kiarostami,


Majid Majidi and Jafar Panahi.
Notable movies are Taste of Cherry, A
Separation, Children of Heavens, The
Apple, The Circle etc.

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Influences on Iranian
Cinema 1/2
Three factors have shaped Iranian cinema :

1. Foreign Influences:

Italian and French movies techniques have


been borrowed.

Most of the directors have been trained abroad


and have watched and studied French and Italian
movies.

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Influences on Iranian
Cinema 2/2
2.Censorship:
Censorship has the ironic side-effect of
motivating Iranian directors to invent new
methods, creating a new grammar for film
industry.

3.Rich Artistic Legacy:


Iran has a long standing tradition of public
theatres. Poets like Rumi and Omer Khayyam
have influenced modern directors. The Silence
and Conference of Birds are inspired by their
poetry.
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Techniques

1/2

Dialogues are simple and non-dramatic.


Usually non-professional actors are cast.
Focus is on real, ordinary life events.
Movies are filmed in real locations, usually in
rural areas.
There is absence of clever editing and eyecatching angles as inspired by Italian neorealism.
There is blurring of lines between film and
documentary.
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Techniques

2/2

Children are used as narrators to


circumvent censorship because they can
make social critique and physical contact.
Comical situations are sometimes used to
highlight political issues.

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Major Themes

1/2

Iranian films have touched on a variety of themes:


Philosophical like meaning of life (Taste of
Cherry)
Family issues like impact of divorce on children (
A Separation)
Role of Woman in Iranian Society like right to
vote (Secret Ballot)
Social issues like class division ( Crimson Gold)
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Major Themes

2/2

Critique on moral decline in


society(Where is the Friends Home?)
War (Scent of Yousefs Shirt)
Religious themes _ Tragedy of Karbala
Plight of ethnic minorities like Kurds and
Afghan refugees ( Kandhar)
Political issues have been generally
ignored due to censorship

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International Fame
Iranian films have received international
awards like Oscar and Golden Globe.
They have been showcased in famous film
festivals like Cannes, Berlin, London etc
Critique: Critics have censured Iranian
directors for making films for foreign
audiences to win awards, ignoring political
issues of modern Iran.
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Lessons Learnt
Even good films can be made within
limited resources.
Censorship is no excuse for making bad
movies.

Iranian film industry has received foreign


influence without giving up national
identity.
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Conclusion
Despite many hurdles, Iranian film
industry has thrived.
It has served as mirror of Iranian
society.
It has so far balanced commercial
interests and artistic integrity.
Pakistan film industry has a lot to
learn from it.
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Recommended Movies

Taste of Cherry
A Separation
Children of Heavens
House of God
Blackboard
The Apple
Where is the Friends House?

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Thank You
Q&A

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