Modern Filmmaking in Iran
Iran does not have a reputation as one of the great filmmaking nations of the world. But a great part of this is due to the fact that information about its internal activities is reluctantly released from Iran. This
censorship does not help directors, actors, and filmmakers to make their mark. However, the BBC has recently declared the results of a poll to find out what are the best foreign-language movies of all the time and four Iranian movies made it into the TOP 100. Three of these movies were made by Abbas Kiarostami and one by Asghar Ferhadi. This indicates the great importance of Kiarostami is to world-wide. However, the sad truth is that the current restrictions of the regime are the toughest Iran ever had in terms of cinema.
The course of Iranian filmmaking has never been easy. It has been following a very long and difficult way to gain acceptance and fight censorship. The first Iranian films were produced by the East India Company and filmed in the studios of Bombay. It was easier to release those movies to the European film festivals from India. The first Iranian movie with a professional sound was Dokhtar-e Lor better known as The Iran of Yesterday and it was made in 1932. It tells stories about the rise of Persian poetry and performing arts of Iran.
Forough Farrokhzad must be mentioned at this point as a famous poet of that time and her influence on the Iranian cinema during the 1940’s-1960’s cannot be underestimated. The movie called House is Black was a milestone in Iranian filmmaking and set the industry on a new and creative direction.
Another great and well-known movie of Dariush Mehrjui was released at the end of the ‘60s and it was called The Cow. The movie was smuggled out of Iran to be shown at the Film Festival in Venice in 1971. As a result, The Cow gained worldwide recognition. This moviewas critically acclaimed at the festival and was awarded by the Fipresci . Later, it became the smashing top in Berlin and got many other awards from different European film festivals.
Of course, the documented troubles in Iran from 1977-1979 are well-known by many people as well. As the world screamed for more information about the Iranian Revolution, some new restrictions were dedicated to the Iranian film industry and cinema took a turn for the worse. The highlight of modern Iranian cinema is Amir Naderi movie called The Runner released in 1984. It was filmed during the Iran-Iraq War and told the story about a young boy who was deeply affected by the violence and became addicted to running. Today there is a whole new generation of Iranian filmmakers that are operating outside their home country, free of restrictions to make movies about any subject. Their films were influenced by Persian traditions and have deep roots in the culture of Iran.