Tag Archives: The Deer

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 and Richard Layne on The Deer/ Gavaznha (Masoud Kimiai, 1974)



We continue with our exploration of the Iranian Cinema on offer at the Wales One World festival with a discussion of the extraordinary The Deer/ Gavaznha (1974), a metaphor for pre-revolutionary Iran’s social relations, focussing on down and outs living in a courtyard with a heroin addict and a bank robber as heroes. The influence of Italian neo-realism is everywhere present in a film that is simultaneously symbolic but also pulpy and visceral. It’s an iconic film extra-textually as well: a cinema showing the film was burned down killing hundreds of people. It’s a film that is still banned in Iran. Behrouz Vossoughi gives an extraordinary performance.

Thanks to a friend, Richard and I have also been able to see the film’s original ending where Ghodrat (Faramarz Gharibian) believes Seyed (Behrooz Vousoughi) has betrayed him and shoots him. As Seyed is on his knees he explains that friendship comes before anything and Ghodrat , visibly moved, gives himself up to the police. The film ends with the promise of the two friends re-uniting at the end of the prison term with the promise of healing and solidarity in the aftermath of the current situation. It’s very moving.

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 ban robber tries to convince a heroin addict to change

A life imprisoned. Setting doves free will be a metaphor. In the meantime, it’s all barbed wire.

When people are seen as sheep but also as ranking below them to the extent their homes are turned over to animals

The courtyard

Is it a queen who’s long hair gets shaved in prison?


Ehsan Khoshbakht, the director of Filmfarsi, wrote us a quick note to pick up on some of the points discussed in the podcast on The Deer:

‘The Deer is a black & white film and the colour version on YouTube is ….(an) unauthorised digital colorization. Colour films were very rare in Iran, even as late as mid-70s.
‘Another point that I wanted to raise is that with the exception of the opening dialogues added to the film in post-production (which you read in bracketed subtitles), this was the most complete version of the film which I telecined from Kimiai’s own battered print — the only way I could show it in the west. So this was the uncensored version, but since I didn’t have access to the separate audio track of the film, I couldn’t remove those forced lines and the best approach was to present them in brackets’.
Many thanks to Ehsan Khoshbakht for his film, for helping the The Deer circulate, and for answering some of the questions we posed in the podcast.
Those of you who want to follow a more extended discussion on Iranian genre  cinema in general and The Deer in particular can do so in this fascinating conversation  between Kaveh Askari and Ehsan Khoshbakht

Ehsan makes an interesting comparison of it with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, particularly the ending

José Arroyo