Saturday 14 November 2020

University of Wisconsin Cinematheque Podcast: Filmfarsi

"Discover a hidden world of Iranian film with this fascinating archival documentary, which resurrects the long-lost popular cinema that thrived in pre-revolution Tehran. Though today it is best known for world-class auteurs like Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi, Iranian cinema between the 1950s and 1970s was sensational and melodramatic, chock full of sex and violence. As director Ehsan Khoshbakht wryly notes, the actual quality of many of these films “starts at B and descends to the last letters of the alphabet,” but today they provide a valuable window into the country’s midcentury psyche. Created in a culture caught between religious tradition and modernity, these lowbrow genre films often encapsulated contradictory ideas—on the common motif of actresses wearing miniskirts along with their headscarves, Khoshbakht observes that “women’s freedom meant a feast of male visual pleasure.” Nearly all of the over 100 films excerpted in Filmfarsi were eventually banned in Iran, relegated to the VHS bootlegs that form the raw materials of this invaluable history. To complement our presentation of Filmfarsi, Khoshbakht has also provided an exceedingly rare opportunity to see The Deer, a high-water mark of pre-revolution Iranian cinema." — Mike King

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