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سینمای ایران » نقد و بررسی1402/06/29

FIPRESCI Critsics' Perspective on Iranian Independent Cinema

Part- Seven

Erdogan Mitrani
















By: Hamed Soleimanzadeh

Erdogan Mitrani

Erdoghan Mitrani 

Film critic and Architect/Turkey


?How much do you know about Iranian culture? Do you know any Iranian artists out of the field of cinema

          I’ve been a professional architect and civil engineer for almost 45 years, and Iranian architecture is part of my career. I’ve always been into all kinds of art, and I have a deep respect for Iranian art. I know Iranian scientists and philosophers such as Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi and Ibn Sina. I also know many poets from Iran such as Rumi, Hafez, Saadi Shirazi, Ferdowsi, Nizami Ganjavi, and Omar Khayyam. With the help of a very good friend, I came to know Foroogh Farokhzad and her poetry. I understood Shirin Neshat’s unique view of art through her Land of Dreams exhibition. And, I became aware of the richness, variety, and capacity of Iranian music through the film No One Knows About Persian Cats, directed by Bahman Ghobadi



?How did you become acquainted with Iranian Cinema? And when was the first time you watched an Iranian film

           I heard about the emersion new wave of Iranian cinema, and I watched two Iranian films about 30 years ago at the Istanbul Film Festival. The first one was Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The Cyclist.  The thing that impressed me deeply in that film was the movement from a personal, surreal, and tragic story to making caustic political criticisms. The second one, which I can say was like a great discovery for me, was Bahram Beyzaei’s Bashu, the Little Stranger. I fell in love with Beyzaei’s extremely poetic and cinematic language. Also, I understood that Iran is not only a very large country with the historical background of an ancient empire, but also a continent with a variety of languages, races, and cultures coexisting together. After that experience, I have watched almost all of Beyzaei’s works, and he is my number one director among the old generation of Iranian filmmakers

I’ve become acquainted with the new generation of Iranian filmmakers through the works of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, his wife and daughters, Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Mohammad Rasoolof, Majid Majidi, Asghar Farhadi and a few others. Their creativity, simplicity, and honesty have impressed me to my heart. I’m sorry to say this but creativity mostly thrives in constraint


? What do you think are the most important subject matters that Iranian independent filmmakers should work on

           First, I should say that almost all Iranian independent filmmakers have always been struggling with their country’s political and social problems. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough knowledge about Iranian cinema before the revolution, but this challenge is evident in the world of that era and in the works of directors such as Beyzaei and Mehrjooei. I have recently discovered Mohammad Reza Aslani’s The Chess of the Wind. The work is a masterful example of social critique in the context of intrigue, greed, oppression, and murder. It’s noteworthy that the filmmakers after the revolution were more interested in political, social, and cultural matters

It’s so unfortunate that we can’t have any real love story movies in Iranian cinema due to some circumstances; even though the man-woman relation is portrayed in the films to some extent. For instance, in Asghar Farhadi's film About Elly, my favorite film, the intimacy between the couples, the mutual respect, as well as the mistreatment caused by the inevitable male dominance is clearly felt. It is perhaps because of the censorship on depicting the relationship between men and women that modernist Iranian filmmakers have turned their attention to the world of children; works of many filmmakers such as Kiarostami, Majidi, Panahi, or the amazing film of Son-Mother directed by Mahnaz Mohammadi and many others who have been extremely successful in portraying the world of children

Of course, almost all of Kiarostami’s masterpieces take place in a masculine world. Only in a few of his works, such as Ten, Shirin, or his last two titles that were made abroad, we can see the powerful presence of women. Only then we can realize how much he understood the sensitivity and delicacy of the feminine world. Of course, I believe that love consists of not only elegance but also passion and desire. The current restrictions in Iranian cinema prevent the portrayal of a true romantic relationship between a man and a woman. There are, however, some exceptions that are more successful in picturing these kinds of romantic relationships such as Ali Asgari’s Disappearance and one of the episodes of There is No Evil by Mohammad Rasoulof

?What are the main factors for the success of Iranian cinema at a variety of film festivals in the world

          I believe the first factor is curiosity. A huge number of foreign audiences are interested in knowing more about the cinema of a religious country. Then, they faced a vast amount of films that were very well written and directed. The second factor is discovering the nature of Iranian people through their cinema. A strong and cultured people with a strong cultural background. A proud and kind people who, despite all the current restrictions, are trying to maintain their territorial integrity and independence. The third factor is Iranian cinema itself. At different film festivals around the world, almost all Iranian films have received positive reviews and feedback. These festivals offer a unique opportunity for foreign audiences to watch the best Iranian films

?Which of the Iranian filmmakers do you like the most

          Let me start with the past generation. I can say Dariyoush Mehrjouei and Amir Naderi. They are not that interesting to me anymore, but Bahram Beyzei is still quite impressive. Even though I watch a low-quality version on YouTube, but I loved Ballad of Tara very much. All of his films are amazing; from Death of Yazdgerd and Bashu, the Little Stranger to his latest title When We Are All Sleep. Also, as I mentioned before, Mohammad Reza Aslani’s The Chess of the Wind is an extraordinary work. Makhmalbaf’s The Cyclist and Kandahar moved me so much, but I’m not so much interested in his other works. I believe him to be a good teacher of cinema, and his wife and daughter’s works are also fairly good

I believe that Abbas Kiarostami is the best director of his generation. He was a remarkable director with a unique style. I have watched all of his movies, and when I heard about his untimely death, I felt like I’d lost a close friend

I’m not a religious person, but I respect the beliefs of religious people even though I don’t agree with them, and that is why I admire Majid Majidi’s works. He is a master of making movies about and with children. How can we ever forget Rouhollah Zamani’s performance in Sun Children

The White Balloon, The Mirror, and The Circle by Jafar Panahi and The Twilight and Iron Island by Mohammad Rasoulof were the first works that I discovered from these directors. Their films are of the highest quality and always employ a critical perspective. Panahi's wit and a strong tendency towards experimental filmmaking may be in contrast to Rasoulof's more serious and classical cinematic language, but both are capable of representing the major problems of Iranian society

Asghar Farhadi is an extremely skilled storyteller and director who truly deserves all his international awards. His stories generally take place in the context of an Iranian family. The way in which he portrays the relationship between men and women is excellent, as is the way in which he ties the political and social issues of Iran to the central narrative. He is extremely intelligent and knows exactly when to take a political side and when not. I forgot to mention that I hate his Everybody Knows


?Which cinematic movements in the world, whether before or after the Islamic Revolution, have influenced Iranian cinema


           As far as I know, during the post-revolutionary period, the lack of permission to screen American and European commercial films provided an opportunity to screen the works of creative filmmakers such as Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, Bresson, and the Taviani brothers. I dare say that Iranian independent filmmakers learned their craft from the best in the world; but I personally believe that they are influenced by Cinéma vérité movement.

?Are you familiar with the new generation of Iranian filmmakers

          I have probably mentioned all the names I know in my previous answers. Female filmmakers such as Samira and Hana Makhmalbaf, Maryam Moghadam, Marjan Satrapi, Shirin Neshat, Manijeh Hekmat, Ana Lily Amirpour, and male filmmakers Ali Asgari, Masoud Bakhshi, Rafi Pitts, Saeed Roostaei and many more. They are all great filmmakers and I think most of them are bolder than their previous generation. But, among all of these names, one stands out and that is Shahram Mokri. His works are created in a parallel world with a skillful and masterful technique. I came to know him with Fish and Cat, and I was amazed by his masterful use of repetition techniques, space synthesis, human relations, and playing with time. A few years later, I was again surprised by his next film, Invasion. Watching his films may be difficult for some people, but I believe that he is extraordinary, not only in Iran but also on an international scale


?What do you think about the situation of women in Iran cinema


           Iranian women have beautiful souls. In his film Shirin, made with the presence of many Iranian top actresses, Abbas Kiarostami was able to portray their inner beauty which is the result of their inner strength. Or the film Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness by Massoud Bakhshi, there seems to be a passive struggle between two women, but in fact, they are both fighting with the rules set by men in a masculine world. Most of the women in Iran, from Forough Farokhzad to Marjan Satrapi, are trying their best to change their condition and situation in the country, and this fight and effort are extremely precious


?What do you think is the future for independent filmmakers in Iran


           I have recently discovered Iranian cinema, but I have to admit that in the past thirty years of being its audience, it has never let me down. I hope that it can evolve into excellence by the new generation of filmmakers, especially female directors. In any case, I think that Iranian independent cinema going to have a brilliant and effective role in the future






FilmMagazine.official (aparat.com)


[FIlm Magazine NO. 605]


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