Tag Archives: Ehsan Khoshbakht

José Arroyo in Conversation with…. Ehsan Khoshbakht on Filmfarsi (2019)

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).

Aram Reza and Beik Imanverdi

 

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

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

The Cinema had its own star system:

Nasser Malek-Motii + Fardin + Behrouz Voussoughi

 

Behrooz Voussoughi & Googoosh

 

that crossed over into other areas of popular culture:

Googoosh was also a pop music superstar

had its own magazines and cinematic cultures:

 

 

Fardin and Pouri Banai in a scene from Hell + Me (on the cover of Film & Art magazine)

…was often highly sexualised in ways that would not be acceptable post-Revoultion:

Aram Reza and Beik Imanverdi

..usually urban:

Dancer of the City (d: Shapour Gharib, 1970)

 

José Arroyo

José Arroyo & Richard Layne on Filmfarsi (Ehsan Khoshbakht, 2019) Wales One World Festival

 

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

 

A discussion of Filmfarsi, a film by Ehsan Khoshbakht, on a mode of filmmaking extremely popular in Iran — urban gangster films, melodramas, musicals — set in urban working class milieus, that evoked and challenged the country’s vaunted leap in modernity. IAccording to Ehsan Khoshbakht, the film’s director, ‘Something rare, euphoric and mad was recorded on celluloid: the Iranian way of life after the second world war, with all its paradoxes. Even the sleaziest films became documents. If the majority of key Iranian arthouse films of the 1960s and 1970s were set in villages and rural areas (a tradition continued until after the revolution), filmfarsi was about the thriving cities, which were expanding blindly, thanks to petrodollars’.

t’s very different to the type of cinema Abbas Kiarostami was also doing in this period. It’s a cinema quickly banned after the ’79 revolution, and a cult on VHS. The filmmaker shows the wide range of filmmaking, its transnational perspective, its ritual and fetishistic post -79 consumption, and well evokes why it was so powerful, why it’s been banned and why it is so cherished.

He’s also offered a wonderful introduction in The Guardian, which can be found here.

It begins with: ‘Shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the country’s national newspapers published a joint subpoena, unique in film history. All the key stars of “filmfarsi” – a form of popular cinema that embodied the aspirations and illusions of a modernising society – were summoned to the revolutionary court. The careers of hundreds of actors and directors ended overnight. Unlike the Hollywood blacklisting of the McCarthy era, there was not even the opportunity for a mock hearing. The cinema, seen as emblematic of corruption, “westoxification” and the decadence of the ousted Pahlavi regime, was consigned to oblivion.

 

Those of you interested in watching the film can follow up bookings here. Many thanks to Wales One World for their superb programme and for the free screenings.

You can see Ehsan Khoshbakht speak to David Gillam on Filmfarsi here:

 

 

José Arroyo