One of the great surprises and pleasures of the Wales One World Film Festival was the opportunity to see Filmfarsi, a great documentary film on the significance of popular Iranian cinema from 1953-1979. Richard Layne and I were so fascinated by the film that we podcast on it . The viewing also encouraged us to see and podcast on other Iranian films in the festival, which, it turned out, were programmed by Ehsan Khoshbakht , the director of Filmfarsi. We managed to see Downpour (Bahram Beyzaie, Iran, 1979) and The Deer/ Gavaznha (Masoud Kimiai, 1974). These films were related to but significantly different from the more art-house Iranian cinema we had experienced before in places like Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato, e.g. Abbas Kiarostami’s First Case, Second Case/ Ghazieh Shekle Aval Shekle Dovom (1979) and Mohammed Rezia Asiani’s Chess of the Wind/ Shatranj-e-Baad (1976).
This all resulted in many interesting conversations and led me to seek out Ehsan Khoshbakht, the director of Filmfarsi, to find out more about the film and the cinema that is its subject. We discuss the process that led to the film; the Iranian film industry in this period, the extent to which it is transnational, co-productions, the importance of film festivals such as the Moscow Film Festival to Iranian Cinema; the relationship of Filmfarsi to the Iranian New Wave; the melodramatic mode of much of this cinema that crosses across various genres (crime films, musicals, domestic melodrama); we discuss how much of this cinema was lost in the aftermath of the revolution and why this was so. We also discuss the process of recovering the films, which are collectively also a history of Iran and Iranian people in this period. The podcast can be listened to below:
The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT
The Cinema had its own star system:
that crossed over into other areas of popular culture:
had its own magazines and cinematic cultures:
…was often highly sexualised in ways that would not be acceptable post-Revoultion: