Today Iranian cinema is one of the most highly regarded national cinemas in the world, regularly winning festival awards and critical acclaim for films that 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 US Embassy in Tehran, and the devastating war with Iraq.
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.
This 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.
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