Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution

Directed by Nader Takmil Homayoun

98 minutes / Color
Farsi / English subtitles
Release: 2007
Copyright: 2006

Today Iranian cinema is one of the most highly regarded national cinemas in the world, regularly winning festival awards and critical acclaim for films which combine remarkable artistry and social relevance. IRAN: A CINEMATOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION traces the development of this film industry, which has always been closely intertwined with the country's tumultuous political history, from the decades-long reign of Reza Shah Pahlevi and his son, the rise of Khomeini and the birth of the Islamic Republic, the seizure by militants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and the devastating war with Iraq.

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Very much in the tradition of Siegried Kracauer's classic historical study, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological Study of the German Film, IRAN: A CINEMATOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION chronicles how Iranian films reflected contemporaneous society and often presaged social change. It shows how mainstream commercial cinema served as a propaganda tool for both the monarchy and the fundamentalist religious regime, recounts the sporadic efforts of some filmmakers to reveal grimmer social realties, and the struggles against censorship and traditional cinematic formulas by such pioneers as Bahram Beyzai, Sohrab Shahid Saless and Parviz Kimiavi and pre- and post-Islamic revolutionary 'new wave' filmmakers such as Amir Naderi, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Dariush Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Jafar Panahi, Bahman Ghobadi and Abbas Kiarostami.

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The documentary explores this history through a compelling blend of archival footage, excerpts from representative and landmark Iranian films, and interviews with Iranian filmmakers, film critics, film historians, and government and film industry executives. In the process, IRAN: A CINEMATOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION reveals the changing social functions of Iranian cinema and the artistic struggle of its filmmakers.

"Insightful… a celebration of a cinema that fully deserves acclaim."—Johannes Bockwoldt, Afterimage

"Dazzling! Every country's cinema deserves a history as good as this."—Thom Powers, Toronto International Film Festival

"Provides non-Iranians with precious access to a broad range of Iranian films… including clips of films nearly impossible to see outside the country…a crisp, intelligent, and enjoyable documentary."—Cineaste

"Puts forth a broad perspective on the development of cinema in Iran… features interviews with well-known and historically significant filmmakers."—Educational Media Reviews Online

*** (Three stars) "This insightful documentary would be useful in Middle Eastern and cinema studies collections. Recommended."—Video Librarian

"A glowing and precise appraisal… Intelligent and well-researched."—Variety

"Includes a wealth of information about Iranian film, and presents a tantalizing collection of materials demonstrating the variety and breadth of the country's cinematic history… an excellent introduction to Iranian cinema and the historical and political context from which it springs."—Sarah Boslaugh, Scope

"Remarkable… Drawing upon a wide catalogue of films and newsreel footage, the documentary offers an insight into the two revolutions-political and artistic-and their joint battle to produce, and consequently control, the national imago."—Lindsey Hair, Film & History

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Select Accolades

  • 2011 United Nations Association Film Festival
  • 2008 American Historical Association Annual Meeting
  • 2006 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam
  • 2006 Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival
  • 2006 Hong Kong International Film Festival
  • 2006 Toronto International Film Festival
  • 2006 Galway Film Festival


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