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“To Every Filmmaker in the World”
“Every filmmaker in the world” is called to support anti-government protests in Iran by famous Iranian cinema creators and actors speaking up after the violent repression of protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old woman Masha Amini while in police custody..
'Holy Spider' :: Selected as Denmark's Oscar candidate
OSCAR 2023. Ali Abbasi and Profile Pictures' 'Holy Spider' is selected as Denmark's submission in the International Feature Film category. 'Holy Spider' shows a director with a strong artistic ambition who..
Winners of the 2022 ‘Sepanta Awards’ :: 15th Annual Iranian Film Festival
This year, the festival presented 50 films from Iran, USA, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Greece, UK, Canada, Australia, and Denmark…, ranging from fiction, documentary, short, animation…. to the music video..
Tickets On Sale Now!
Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
September 17-18, 2022

Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran, launched in 2008, this year presents 50 films from 10 countries and is available Virtually..
Opinion :: Will Venice Protests Help or Hurt filmmakers in Iran?
As the Venice Film Festival celebrates Iranian cinema — with four Iranian films screening at the 79th Biennale — back home in Tehran, Iranian filmmakers and artists are facing the harshest crackdown in decades..
VENICE 2022 crowns Laura Poitras, Alice Diop, Luca Guadagnino and Jafar Panahi its victors
VENICE 2022: The Golden Lion goes to US movie All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the Grand Jury Prize to Saint-Omer, Best Direction to Bones and All and the Special Prize to No Bears..
Biennale Cinema 2022 :: Awards Ceremony
Official Awards of the 79th Venice Film Festival. Announced by the five international Juries, chaired by Julianne Moore, during the Awards Ceremony that was held on Saturday 10th September at 7:00 pm..
The Kiev Trial :: VENICE 2022
Ukrainian documentary Filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa presents a haunting glimpse of a post-war Nazi trial. A year after his moving documentary Babi Yar. Context, Loznitsa revisits some of the footage he unearthed and expands it into the equally daunting The Kiev Trial..
'Nezouh' (äÒæÍ) :: VENICE 2022
"The bombs can’t touch the stars"

"Nezouh in Arabic is the displacement of souls, water and people; it is the displacement of light and darkness. Nezouh tries to talk about this inevitable invasion of light and hope in the midst of this chaos”..
Venice 2022 :: Festival Reads Statement From Imprisoned Iranian Director
Jafar Panahi, imprisoned Iranian filmmaker, whose new film 'No Bears' is screening in competition in Venice, has sent a message of defiance to the Tehran regime...
Filmmakers under Attack :: Taking Stock, Taking Action. Two initiatives at the 79th Venice Film Festival
La Biennale di Venezia announces two initiatives to demonstrate solidarity with the directors, filmmakers and artists who have been arrested or imprisoned around the world this past year..
Venice 2022 :: 'Call of God' :: Mastering the Science of Love
The last film of the late-director Kim Ki-duk has been officially invited to the 79th Venice Film Festival. At the time of his death, the director KIM Ki-duk was at work on what would be his final feature, a project titled 'Call of God'..
Coming: 15th Annual Iranian Film Festival! : San Francisco: Sep. 17-18
This year, the festival presents 50 films from Iran, USA, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Greece, UK, Canada, Australia, and Denmark…, ranging from fiction, documentary, short, animation…. to the music video. We are happy and proud to..
Venice 2022 :: 'Without her' :: Orizzonti Extra
The story of someone actually losing her identity may seem surreal at first glance, but coming from a background where you’re blamed for who you are, it’s as realistic as it can get. If you stand for your beliefs, you soon find out that..
'Bamse' :: A Lucky Man
A tribute to the popular Danish musician, who has provided us with classics like “Vimmer Street”, “Why Does Louise Go Dancing” and “In A Boat That’s Itty-Bitty”. Behind the warm smile and the overalls is a powerful and moving story about a man’s lifelong pursuit of recognition and love..
Close-Up on Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 'The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood'
An Iranian film as remarkable as the history of its production—edited by the government, banned, stolen, and rediscovered. The regime had tried to erase 'The Nights..' from collective memory—instead, it elevated it to a near-cult status..
Venice 2022 :: 'Beyond The Wall'
'Beyond the Wall' will have its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival in September 2022. The Iranian Cinema Organization has announced that 'Beyond The Wall's participation in the Venice Film Festival is not coordinated with this organization..
Danish docs and series headed for 79th Venice International Film Festival
Jørgen Leth and Andreas Koefoed's 'Music for Black Pigeons', Guy Davidi's 'Innocence', Lars von Trier's 'The Kingdom Exodus' and Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Copenhagen Cowboy' will take part in..
79th Venice International Film Festival :: Lineup :: 31 Aug. - 10 Sep.
New films by Luca Guadagnino, Laura Poitras, Todd Field, Olivia Wilde, Martin McDonagh, and Rebecca Zlatowski are heading to Venice, where Julianne Moore heads the competition jury..
Putin: A Russian Spy Story :: TV Series (2020)
An exploration of how Vladimir Putin deployed his knowledge of spy-craft as a politician, and how modern Russia evolved through an acute sense of betrayal, pride and anger..
Panah Panahi on 'Hit the Road'
‘I don’t feel like a film-maker in my own country.. Even my actors haven’t seen the film yet’. Panah Panahi's joyous debut has been feted internationally but can’t be shown in his homeland — and now his auteur father Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to prison..
‘SABA’ :: Screened at Aesthetica and Grand OFF :: An Iranian short film
A socially committed short film that manages to touch on two controversial issues in modern Iran: the difficulty of being woman and the burning issue of gender equality..
Exilic trilogy :: A poetic, mystical and musical trilogy
The story of a well known musician, a famous painter and a legendary poet are included in Exilic Trilogy in three chapters. This arthouse independent docudrama film is shot in Toronto by Arsalan Baraheni, an exiled Iranian...
‘Be My Voice’ :: Swedish documentary from 2021
Journalist and activist Masih Alinejad is the voice of millions of Iranian women rebelling against the forced hijab on social media. She is an advocate for women's rights, and from her exile in the United States..
Land of Dreams :: Venice 2021 Review
Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari fearlessly illuminate the eerie similarities between the Islamic regime and contemporary America – the increased presence of the surveillance state, the shared exploitation of religion and power..
Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Arrested as Conservative Iran Cracks Down on Dissidents
Panahi was reportedly arrested after protesting the detention of fellow Iranian filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad..
Iranian drama ‘Summer With Hope’ wins top Karlovy Vary prize
Sadaf Foroughi’s Canadian-Iranian drama Summer With Hope has won the Crystal Globe for best film at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF), which held its closing awards ceremony on Friday July 9..
Iran Arrests Golden Bear Winning Director Mohammad Rasoulof
Mohammad Rasoulof arrested in ‘Brutal’ Raid Over Social Media Posts. His producing partners say he and colleague Mostafa Al-Ahmad have been "transferred to an unknown location." Since moving back to Iran in 2017, Rasoulof has..
‘Ghosts of Afghanistan’ :: It's only your own perspective that counts
“It's only your perspective that counts. Everyone celebrates their goals as just and noble. That is the real crime of this war. That the West questions its role, as it happens in this film, is a rare view”..
Call For Film Submissions Open
The 15th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco, a showcase for the independent feature and short films made by or about Iranians from around the world, is inviting filmmakers from all over the world to submit their films..
Atabai :: Movie Review
A sharp and fascinating exploration of male vulnerability
Filmmaker Niki Karimi creates vivid characters and connections, adding imaginative touches and a nicely understated sense of humour. An unforgettable portrait of a man whose..
DOCAVIV 2022 :: Tantura :: Review
Alon Schwarz's documentary explores the massacre committed by Israeli forces in the titular Arab village in 1948, shedding light on a taboo topic shrouded in a culture of silence. In the late 1990s, graduate student Teddy Katz conducted an academic research on a..
‘Nostalgia’ :: Mario Martone’s Neapolitan Thriller
“Our past is a labyrinth.. But there are these little voices that still call you from time to time. You try to re-enter this labyrinth. But this attempt at understanding who you are and where it all started can be dangerous..”
Cannes 2022 :: Palme d'Or-winning director Ruben Östlund on his satire of the super-rich
FRANCE 24 speaks to a director who won his second Palme d'Or for “Triangle of Sadness,” a biting satire of the rich and (Insta-)famous, bringing the 2022 Cannes Film Festival to..
Cannes 2022 :: Iranian Zar Ebrahimi Wins Cannes Best Actress Prize
Iranian actress Zar Amir-Ebrahimi receives the Best Actress award for her role in the film Holy Spider on May 28. "I have come a long way to be on this stage tonight," she told the audience at the final award ceremonies in Cannes..
Cannes 2022 :: ‘Leila’s Brothers’ Wins Fipresci Prize
Just hours before Cannes Palme d’Or prize announcement, the Iranian movie “Leila’s Brothers” won the Fipresci prize for best film in Cannes main competition “for the director’s ability to craft an engaging story, very dense.."
Cannes 2022 :: ‘Imagine’ :: Critics’ Week :: Leila Hatami
This light drama screens as part of Critics’ Week at Cannes, featuring A Separation’s Leila Hatami as the woman who bonds with her taxi driver in night rides around Tehran in Ali Behrad’s atmospheric yet ephemeral meditation on love..
Cannes 2022 :: ‘Leila’s Brothers’ :: Film Review
A great movie both in scope and in what it’s trying to say about Iran through the story of one family’s countless hardships. As a filmmaker, Roustaee aims so high and wide that even if he misses his mark at times, he manages to find..
Cannes 2022 :: Danish films in Cannes Film Festival
Three Danish films are part of the Official Selection and Danish film professionals are on board international co-productions at the 2022 Cannes Festival. Read on for more about the films and where to meet the Danish Film..
‘Holy Spider’ :: Ali Abbasi :: Interview
Ali Abbasi knows no bounds

A Danish pregnancy horror flick, a Swedish troll romance and a Farsi-language serial killer thriller. Ali Abbasi sees no reason to limit himself to one culture, one language or one genre. He is now back in Cannes with 'Holy Spider'..
HOT DOCS 2022 :: 'The Killing of a Journalist'
This investigative documentary explores how the entanglement of organised crime with a corrupt government, legal system and law enforcement can practically define life in a nominally democratic European country..
‘Family Diary | Cronaca familiare’ :: The Cinema Of Valerio Zurlini
An overwhelming drama, magnificently photographed, sadly neglected. Watching it in the Walter Reade in New York, I had the feeling that the screen was expanding to include the entire world..
Tiburon 2022 :: Call For Entries Open For 21st Annual Tiburon International Film Festival
Tiburon, CA: The 21st Annual Tiburon International Film Festival (TIFF) will be held in November 2022, a showcase for independent feature and short films from around the world..
‘The Coming War on China’ :: The new War-Game scenario in the Pacific
John Pilger’s 60th film for ITV. Pilger reveals what the news doesn’t – that the United States and the world’s second economic power, China (both nuclear armed) are on the road to war..
Cannes 2022 :: Two Persian language films in the main section
This year, 18 films will participate in the main section (competition) of Cannes Film Festival, including two Persian-language films, 'Holy Spider' by Ali Abbasi after his Cannes-winning Swedish 'Border', and 'Leila's Brothers' by..
‘Threads’ :: Revisiting one of the most terrifying films ever made
An urgent warning against nuclear conflict, Threads is a chilling hypothetical that achieves visceral horror with its matter-of-fact presentation of an apocalypse. Many films purport to be difficult to sit through, but..
Departures :: Okuribito :: おくりびと :: Fascinating, witty and heartfelt
All three actors are skilled in communicating difficult emotions just with their faces and in bringing to life the gentle humor that leavens this very affecting movie about death and letting go..
‘CODA’ :: Child of Deaf Adults
Uniquely beautiful to watch

No theatrics, no gimmicks - just a wonderful coming-of-age gem that aims directly at the heart and hits the bullseye. It’s the type of feel-good movie that leaves you both uplifted and exhausted..
ON THE BEACH :: THE BECKONING OF NUCLEAR WAR
This is the way the world ends.. Not with a bang but a whimper. These lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on..
Akira Kurosawa's “Dreams”
A remarkable achievement

Rarely in cinema has the raw personal and symbolic power of dreaming been so effectively captured as in Akira Kurosawa's 1990 feature ... Kurosawa's late film beautifully evokes the short and often baffling nature of dreaming..
The Story of UNCLE VANYA
Released in 1970, this film both recalls the past and situates Chekhov as a visionary who was ahead of his time. It is a dazzling and compassionate take on one of the most beloved plays in the Russian repertoire..
‘Meeting Gorbachev’ :: “We tried”
The fascinating story of a pivotal political figure. Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, sits down with filmmaker Werner Herzog to discuss his many achievements. Topics include the talks to reduce nuclear weapons, the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of..
‘Be My Voice’ :: Swedish documentary from 2021
The inspiring story of Irani-exiled Masih Alinejad, her fight against the Iranian regime's hijab laws and her viral movement My Stealthy Freedom. Masih Alinejad is an Iranian journalist and activist. She is an advocate for women's..
‘Ballad of a White Cow’ :: Bad Samaritan :: Movie Review
With subtlety and steadily accruing power, Ballad of a White Cow depicts how painfully a justice system can fail -- and how that failure can haunt the lives of those affected..
‘Queenpins’ :: Movie Reviews
A high-concept hook combined with a top-notch ensemble, ‘Queenpins’ tells a charming, funny story. Thanks to the chemistry of the leads, some clever dialogue and a willingness to embrace the silly, it all clicks. It’s good. Good enough, in fact, that you won't even mind..
‘The Laureate’ :: Movie Review
Well-acted, nicely crafted and a handsome period piece within modest means, William Nunez’s biopic details an adventurous period in the life of 'I, Claudius' writer Robert Graves. Viewers looking for a slightly racier variation..
'The Power of the Dog' :: Movie Review
While Jane Campion's 'The Piano' remains a haunting exploration of female desire, 'The Power of the Dog' is a long-delayed contemplation on masculinity from the female eye, both about repression and control..
'Tommaso' :: Movie Review
The traits that define Ferrara's best work are present and precise here. One of the director’s latest work built on quiet moments of spiritual and professional reflection, a Fellini-esque inward gaze at the artist and his art..
‘The Last Days of ...’ :: Movie Review
A character study of two people — a rich “artist” and a prostitute — who spend a weekend together in his posh hotel suite overlooking the Vegas Strip. Even those uninclined to work out all of the script's hidden meanings will find reasons to enjoy this trim indie drama..
Speak No Evil :: Ready for Sundance
After working on his 2017 feature A Horrible Woman, Christian Tafdrup is ready to world-premiere his new effort, a psychological horror entitled Speak No Evil, in the Midnight Series strand of the Sundance Film Festival (20-30 January 2022)..
‘Don’t Look Up’ :: Movie Review
Adam McKay’s cosmic end-times satire “Don’t Look Up” quickly became the most-viewed original movie on Netflix over the holiday weekend. He says the ending of the Netflix hit came together in real-time thanks to Meryl Streep's improv skills..
The Unforgivable :: A Miserable Life
If you are looking for Christmas movies, The Unforgivable will not be on your list. However, if you are a Sandra Bullock fan, this grim drama is a must-see offering. Sandra Bullock turns in a splendid performance as Ruth Slater..
‘The United States vs Billie Holiday’ :: Movie Review
“She Won’t Stop Singing the Song.” In the 1940s the FBI targets Billie Holiday, claiming her song ‘Strange Fruit’, about a lynching, to be un-American and therefore she is also being un-American..
EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS 2021
Flee, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Great Freedom triumph at the 34th European Film Awards. Jasmila Zbanic's film wins three statuettes including European Film, while Flee and The Father receive two each. The Ceremony was presented by German actress, Annabelle Mandeng..
‘Lingui, the Sacred Bonds’ :: Review
Lingui can only exist in the face of great hardship, and Haroun's surprisingly cathartic film honors the tradition by celebrating the fact that it still does. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year..
Blue Bayou :: Movie review
The center of this story is the family unit of Kathy, Jessie, and Antonio, anguished at the breakup of their happy home, overwhelmed and intimidated by the looming bureaucracy of the United States government. who doesn't care that Antonio has a baby on the way, that Antonio..
‘The Gravedigger’s Wife’ :: Somalia’s first-ever Oscar submission 2022
Charming and wistful without ever feeling maudlin, The Gravedigger's Wife is a beautiful love letter to the power of love and family. It is a striking first from a filmmaker and cast..
ANTIGONE - HOW DARE WE!
Slavoj Zizek’s modern adaptation of Antigone brings the ancient tragedy up to date, with politicians and decision-makers in all roles. Antigone is used to explain democracy, the women's movement and moral philosophy - by both opponents and supporters of totalitarian..
Timbuktu :: The Nightmarish Perversion of "Justice"
Timbuktu movingly attests to the human will to resist the terrors and injustices of absolutism. It encapsulates the essential truth of violent extremism: to destroy grace and beauty..
‘HYENAS’ :: Another newly restored Masterpiece!
The Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty's allegory about the destructive effect of global financial powers on society's morality has been newly restored...
When a City Rises :: Sydney Film Festival
One of the most complete accounts of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests to date. It’s also, at times, an unbearably tense picture which unfolds with urgency of a thriller..
‘In Between Dying’ :: Hilal Baydarov’s seventh film in the last three years
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VENICE 2021 :: Ennio: The Maestro
Ennio is Giuseppe Tornatore’s well-rounded portrait of Ennio Morricone, the most popular and prolific film composer of the 20th century, the one most loved by the international public, a two-time Oscar winner and the author of..
Cinema Regained :: The new restoration of Chess of the Wind
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It's Showtime :: The 14th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
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HAUGESUND 2021 :: Charlotte Sieling :: Director of Margrete – Queen of the North :: Interview
The Danish director discusses her film about the monarch that ruled Scandinavia. Ten years in the making and going six centuries back,..
VENICE 2021 :: Awards
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Avicii: True Stories :: So wake me up when it's all over
An Icarus style portrait of a sensitive young man who was thrust too readily into the hedonistic world of the international music scene..
Movie Review :: The Macaluso Sisters
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Samereh Rezaie :: Actress and director
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VENICE 2021 :: Orizzonti :: Promises :: Isabelle Huppert
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Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, hired to design set on new Netflix film
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Real-life Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints) stars as an aging fighter pulled into an underground Dubai tournament..
August 20-28
Karlovy Vary 2021

Michael Caine to receive Crystal Globe at 2021 Karlovy Vary film festival. He will join Johnny Depp and Ethan Hawke at this year’s film festival in Karlovy Vary..
VENICE 2021 Competition
'Parallel Mothers' to open the 78th Venice Film Festival
The Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar, who claims "It was in Venice, in 1983, that I was reborn as a director" will present his film..
Cannes 2021 :: ‘Titane’ Wins Palme d’Or
Julia Ducournau becomes only the second female director to claim Cannes' top prize. The grand jury prize was awarded to A hero, of Iranian Asghar Farhadi, and for Hyutti No. 6..
‘Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee’
Filmmaker Nanette Burstein tries to unravel the strange behavior of John McAfee, who left his life as a software mogul to become a recluse in the jungles of Belize..
Berlinale 2021 :: Souad :: Movie Review
'Souad' is remarkable not just for its razor- sharp, nonjudgmental insight, but also for the nuanced performances making each character rounded yet ultimately unknowable..
Berlinale 2021
Summer Special highlights

Cinema is back in Berlin! The Berlinale Summer Special opened on June 9 with a red carpet gala. Here are a few snapshots of the event. During the Summer Special from June 9-20..
CANNES 2021 :: ‘Year of the Everlasting Storm’
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A New Book Reveals
Why Frank Sinatra believed Marilyn Monroe was murdered

"I tried to paint the portrait of a man very few people got to know as well as I did, I think he knew someday I'd share the stories he..
Welcome to Online Film Home!

The Iranian Film 50
The Iranian Top 50 Films

Fifty films essential to understanding Iranian cinema

By Houshang Golmakani  (Translated by Ehsan Khoshbakhtphotos courtesy Film Monthly.) 

Translator’s note: Houshang Golmakani is the editor-in-chief of the Iranian Film Monthly, the first post-revolution film journal in Iran which, amazingly, has survived for 30 years. 

Aside from his full-time presence in the office of Film Monthly in downtown Tehran, he has written books on Iranian cinema and directed Stardust Stricken (1996) about Mohsen Makhmalbaf

This list doesn’t necessarily represent the monuments of Iranian art-house cinema, but it is something of a map for those curious cinephiles who want to know more about Iran’s cinema and its unique film industry. 

It is important to know that Iranian national cinema is not limited to names like KiarostamiMakhmalbaf or Panahi

Aside from the work of great filmmakers with artistic ambitions since 1960s, there are certain kinds of commercial films that deserve attention, especially considering the fact that some of them present the “national genres” at their best. 

So let’s say this: here are 50 films that are essential to understanding Iranian cinema: 


1.  Haji Agha, the Cinema Actor (Ovanes Ohanian, 1933): 
Ironically, the earliest surviving Iranian film is a witty commentary on Muslims by an Iranian Armenian. This silent answer to The Jazz Singer also foresees the future of problems and misunderstandings faced by Iranian cinema.

2. The Lor Girl (Ardeshir Irani, 1933): The first Iranian talkie is moody propaganda with a cliffhanger.

3. The Stumble (Mehdi Rais-Firouz, 1953): A popular melodrama with a straightforward moral message.

4. The Swallows Return to their Nest (Majid Mohseni, 1964): The most successful film of a national genre, a villagers’ film which can be compared to the Soviet Union farmer films, or the pastorals of French cinema.

5. The Brick and the Mirror (Ebrahim Golestan, 1965): 
Probably Iran’s first art-house film, and definitely the first serious attempt to use the medium of cinema as an expressive tool. One of the few films of its period that has remained worthy of attention and rediscovery.

6. The Strike (Samuel Khachikian, 1964): A western- influenced crime film made by the Iranian Hitchcock and one of so many Armenians involved in Iran’s film industry.

7. The Night of the Hunchback (Farokh Ghafari, 1965): A burlesque and a lively, modern adaptation of 1001 Nights by one of the founders of the Iranian cinematheque and a close friend of Henri Langlois.

8. Croesus’ Treasure (Syamak Yasami, 1965): Offers an extremely popular message of reconciliation between social classes while bringing escapist entertainment to the impoverished; it also brings the popular song and dance of the Tehran’s cabarets to the screen.

9. Amir Arsalan-e Namdar (Esmail Kushan, 1966): An historical costume drama based on a piece of famous folklore whose paperboards sets, awful make up and campy costuming turn it into a parody of the 1001 Nights’ fad.

10. The Night It Rained (Kamran Shirdel, 1967): The best documentary in the history of Iranian cinema with virulent humor about another piece of nonfiction filmmaking, a documentary that was never made. Echoes of Rashomon .

11. Qeysar (Massud Kimiai, 1969): A turning point in the history of Iranian cinema and one which anticipates the political changes of the following decade through a story of vengeance.


12. The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui, 1969): The first serious attempt to bring Iranian modern literature to the screen and a major example of the New Wave —Iranian style.

13.  Tranquility in the Presence of Others (Naser Taghvai, 1969): This film, along with Gheisar and  The Cow, changed the history of Iranian cinema in the new decade whose last year ended in a revolution. It was banned until 1971.

14. Dancer of City (Shapur Gharib, 1970): Another popular pre-revolution genre was the “Jaheli film,” about the tough guys, hoodlums and the thugs in the neighborhood who usually fall in love with prostitutes and save them at the end, though it never comes easy and splashing some blood on screen seems inevitable.

15. Reza Chelcheleh (Mehdi Mirsamadzadeh, 1971): A vaudeville variety show with the kind of happy-go- lucky people still present in Iranian films to this day. The fact that it was made by an Institut des Hautes Études Cinematographiques graduate only adds to the many surprises to be found in Iranian films.

16. The Carriage Driver (Nosratallah Karimi, 1971): Neo- realism, Iranian style.

17.  Kako (Shapur Gharib, 1971): Features old-time heroes who have no place in the changing society. Sounds like Peckinpah, but it’s very Iranian indeed.

18. The Morning of the Fourth Day (Kamran Shirdel, 1972): Remake of À bout de soufflé .

19. Mehdi Meshki and Hot Pants (Nezame Fatemi, 1972): Another comic entry to the “Jaheli films” genre, only this time the focus is on the conflict and accordance between tradition and modernity—the old hero meets a western woman in hot pants! It cannot get clearer than this.

20. Tangna / Deadlock (Amir Naderi, 1973): Iranian social drama with a noir flair.


21.  The Mongols (Parviz Kimiavi, 1973): Iran embraces the avant-garde.

22. The Deer (Massud Kimiai, 1976): The greatest artistic achievement of one of the pioneers of the Iranian New Wave and a monument in Iranian cinema. It is no wonder that Iranian film critics have selected this film as the greatest film in in the history of Iranian cinema.

23. Samad Goes Artist (Parviz Sayyad, 1974): A “Mr. Simpleton” from a small village in Iran offers vulgar jokes that are not devoid of social and political critique.

24. Stranger and the Fog (Bahram Beizai, 1976): Heavy political symbolism, wrapped in complex mythical symbolism.

25. Still Life (Sohrab Shahid-Saless, 1974): Shahid-Saless, a master of depicting daily life in its plain, unadorned form, gives haunting, sad beauty to the dead moments of life.


26.  Beehive (Fereydun Gole, 1975): Hell is the city; reminiscent of The Swimmer, while the pool has changed into bar.

27.  Desiderium (Ali Hatami, 1978): A poetic piece about the past, told as a love story between a mentally impaired man and a prostitute. Shohreh Aghdashloo, the actor who portrays the prostitute, moves to the United States after the revolution, and later gets nominated for an Oscar for House of Sand and Fog.

28. Hajji Washington (Ali Hatami, 1982): Another nostalgic reminiscence of the past which its lyrical aspects were never understood at the time of the initial release. Probably because everybody was too busy with “more important things” in the revolutionary country.

29. Bashu, the Little Stranger (Bahram Beizai, 1990): War, peace and metaphoric cinema.

30.  Hamoun (Dariush Mehrjui, 1990): Mehrjui sends the Iranian male intellectual on a journey of doubt and despair in which nods to Fellini and Woody Allen are vital.


31.  Nassereddin Shah, the Cinema Actor (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1992): A compassionate tale, told by a rebel from Iranian cinema, and loaded with political allusions.

32. Life and Nothing More… (Abbas Kiarostami, 1992): A new look at something that everybody thought didn’t deserve a new look. The result? Rediscovering reality with a touch of poesy.

33. Redhat and Cousin (Iraj Tahmasb, 1994): A puppet movie with two sweet and popular characters that broke all box-office records.

34. The White Balloon (Jafar Panahi, 1995): Discovering and masterfully depicting the drama of everyday life. The birth of a new auteur.


35.  Journey to Chazabeh (Rasool MollagholiPoor, 1995): A good example of another specifically Iranian genre: the mystical war film.

36. Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997): A film about suspense in everyday life, which brought a Palme d’Or to its genuine auteur.

37. Children of Heaven (Majid Majidi, 1997): Isn’t it amazing that Majidi uses “poverty” to “enrich” his filmic aesthetics?

38. To Be or Not to Be (Kianoush Ayari, 1998): The essence of reality, both in content and style.


39.  Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002): A revolution in narrative, done entirely in a moving car in the streets of Tehran, but by no means done simply or hastily.

40. Color Purple (Ebrahim Hatamikia, 2004): An Iranian political thriller; Sidney Lumet style.

41. The Lizard (Kamal Tabrizi, 2004): A transgressive comedy that crossed one of the red lines of the Islamic Republic: joking about mullahs. The story is a remake, more or less, of We’re No Angels.

42. The Fish Fall in Love (Ali Rafie, 2006): The Iranian theater maestro fulfills an old dream and makes his first feature film. To us, it felt like when Peter Brook went behind the camera for the first time.

43.  Ashkan, the Charmed Ring and Other Stories (Shahram Mokri, 2009): If you want to see what the films of young, contemporary Iranian filmmakers look like, watch this.

 44. About Elly (Asghar Farhadi, 2009): A giant is born. You cannot find a better cinematic representation of lives of the young Iranian middle class.

45.  Salve (Alireza Davoudnejad, 2010): This film proves that Iranian cinema’s most powerful weapon is still realism.

46. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011): This straight masterpiece divided Iranian cinema into two periods: before A Separation and after A Separation.

47. A Cube of Sugar (Reza Mir-Karimi, 2011): Longing for an Iranian Belle Époque.

48.  Absolutely Tame As a Horse (Abdolreza Kahani, 2011): Purely absurd and utterly insane.

49. Here Without Me (Bahram Tavakoli, 2011): A lively Tennessee Williams adaptation, set in contemporary Iran.

50.  Stories (Rakhshan Bani-E’temad, 2012): Bani-E’temad, one of the best female filmmakers in the country, follows the story of her films’ characters after nearly two decades. Socially conscious and bitter, without losing continuity.



Night Train To Lisbon
Annette Focks


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