Tag Archives: Filmfarsi

The Youssef Chahine Podcast No: 42: Omar Gatlato/aka Omar, It Kills Him (Merzak Allouache, Algeria, 1976)

A greatly beloved work, a landmark of Algerian cinema. Filmed in 1976, in that period between the end of the Algerian War in 1962 and the start of what would become known as the black decade of the 90s, Omar Gatlato is a study of masculinity and the self-harm caused by a culture of machismo, a document of Algiers and Algerian popular culture in that period, an experiment in film form and one of the films Youssef Chahine recommended we see. I was very glad we did. The podcast below touches on all of these topics and more.

The podcast my 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



Listeners can see a trailer of the film below:

The Youssef Chahine Interview by Tom Luddy, translated by Ehsan Khoshbakht can be accessed here:

Indeed Omar Gatlato has interesting links with Khoshbakht’s observations on Iranian cinema during roughly the same period in Filmfarsi. Our podcast on the film and our conversation with Ehsan can be followed up here:

Conversation with Ehsan: https://notesonfilm1.com/2021/04/30/jose-arroyo-in-conversation-with-ehsan-khoshbakht-on-filmfarsi-2019/

Podcast on Filmfarsi: https://notesonfilm1.com/2021/03/16/jose-arroyo-richard-lane-on-filmfarsi-ehsan-khoshbakht-2019-wales-one-world-festival/

Natasha Marie Llorens writes:

En Attendant Omar Gatlato expresses the exceptionalism of the

1970s in the country, which historian James McDougall describes

as the era of a “new, young and profoundly transformed Algeria.”3

The book, an excerpt of which has been translated and is included

in this volume, takes its framing metaphor from Merzak Allouache’s

film Omar Gatlato, an extraordinary cinematic portrait of Algerian

youth released in 1976, fourteen years after the end of the War of

Liberation. For Tamzali, Omar Gatlato was not only paradigmatic

of a period saturated with the claim for subjective emancipation, it

inaugurated an awareness of that freedom: “Now we know. We were

waiting for Omar Gatlato. Merzak Allouache clasps the old mummy

that film had become, and plunges Algerian cinema into a pool of

tenderness and rebellion.”

Her marvellous Introduction to the Waiting for Omar Gatlato Exhibition can be accessed here: NLlorens_waiting-for-omar-gatlato_introduction (1)


José Arroyo

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