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Iranian cinema: between truth and commitment

06-05-2020 08:15

Lidia Bucci

News, Preview, Iranian Cinema, Iranian Cinema, Iranian Showcase,

Iranian cinema: between truth and commitment

Understanding Iran through cinema. One of the most innovative and fruitful cinemas in terms of quality film productions.

Iranian cinema is today one of the most innovative, exciting and appreciated festivals all over the world.

Focused on social issues, Iranian cinema is one of the most prolific in terms of high quality film productions in the broader panorama of Asian cinema, although it was a little late on history timeline. To date, it ranks second only to the numerous and spectacular Bollywood productions. In an almost legendary way, it is said that in 1900 the fifth Shah of the Qajar dynasty bought a camera for the official court photographer, Mirza Ibrahim Khan Akkas-Bashi, to let him document the activities of the royal family. This is the myth of the birth of film culture in Iran. However, the first cinema, intended as the place in which to enjoy films, seems to have been, in those same years, the backroom of a merchant.


With the shooting of proclamations and official ceremonies of the royal family, and of important constructions in progress such as  the Trans-Iranian railway, the primigenial Iranian cinema seems to have a documentary approach, similar to the desire to tell the everyday life of the Lumière brothers. The first film to be considered as such was made in 1930, strictly in black and white and silent. But three years later the first sound film was made. It seems that in Iran the technological transition skipped the ordinary steps of experimentation.

The first Iranian films, however, were not completely Iranian. Due to some difficulties in the realization process, they were filmed in India. We must wait until the fifties to see the first Iranian films shot in Iranian territory. Although in quantitative terms foreign films will still dominate, in qualitative terms, the sixties were the Golden Age of Iranian cinema. The productions of the Iranian filmmakers experimented with different points of view and narrative and artistic ideas, obtaining important awards


In the following decade, however, Iranian film productions already decreased considerably due to the Islamic revolution. Only in the eighties new strategies were thought in order to incentivize Iranian cinema and its productions again. Meanwhile, authors had started to move abroad, where they would have probably encountered greater opportunities for expression. Moreover, a special side note is deserved by animation in Iranian production for the big screen. Animation that, already by the seventies, saw artists and creative talents experimenting with techniques other than graphic, such as stop-motion.

The subjects were linked to the fables of Iranian tradition, that had a strong symbolic value and passed down important social themes combined with images of a remarkable aesthetic taste. From the 1980s to the 2000s, until today, Iranian cinema is still in the midst of its remarkable and internationally recognized productions. These productions earned Iran the second place on the podium of the Asian film industry after India. The pursuit of truth, social commitment, naturalness, and the relationship between art and life were the founding core of the best Iranian production at its peak.


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