Wednesday 24 November 2021

La revolució oblidada. Cinema iranià anterior a 1979

Programme curated for Filmoteca de Catalunya (December 2021). — EK 

[Short introduction in Catalan]

La revolució del 1979 va canviar el destí i el rostre de l’Iran. Com la majoria de les revolucions, també va suprimir el passat i les seves imatges, i amb això un dels cinemes més innovadors d’aquella època. Aquest programa mostra algunes de les pel·lícules clau de la revolució cinematogràfica més progressista, interrompuda per una altra de social per la qual el país va acabar sent conegut.

Aquesta retrospectiva de cinema iranià anterior al 1979 fa reviure pel·lícules prohibides, perdudes o simplement oblidades. Obres mestres de la Nova Onada Iraniana que s’estrenen ara, acabades de restaurar, al nostre país.

Sunday 21 November 2021

I Wake Up Screaming (Bruce Humberstone, 1941)


Dir: Bruce Humberstone

Originally titled Hot Spot and even released in some territories as such, this is an indispensable work in the development of film noir. Focusing on the psychological complexions and sexual obsessions of its characters, the film's expansion of noir themes as well as its use of chiaroscuro lighting are pioneering, even if the "wrong man" story doesn't always abide by the rules it has defined and ventures into other, lighter territory.

The murder of rising star Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis) is announced at the beginning of the film and through a series of flashbacks, narrated by her sister Jill (Betty Grable) and the suspects, we learn about how the capricious Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) has turned Vicky from a waitress into a celebrity. During the investigation we are also introduced to a psychotic detective, Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar), who is already convinced of Frankie's guilt and determined to send him to the "hot chair". The framed Frankie and Jill, now in love, embark on their own investigation while Cornell is on their tail.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Conversation with Paul Haggis

Paul Haggis (left) in Bologna

My conversation with writer and director Paul Haggis, recorded in Bologna on July 27,  2021.

The Cinema of George Stevens: A Dialogue Between Imogen Sara Smith & Ehsan Khoshbakht

George Stevens (standing, right) on the set of Giant

Video of a dialogue between Imogen Sara Smith and I about the cinema of George Stevens, recorded in Bologna, July 2021. — Ehsan Khoshbakht

Sunday 7 November 2021

Esmail Koushan: The Storm of Life (by Abbas Baharloo)

Esmail Koushan

When serving as the editor-in-chief of the now defunct Underline arts quarterly, I celebrated the centenary of Iranian film director-producer by commissioning two pieces on him. This is the second essay (the first one, by Nima Hassani-Nasab, is already available here), written by the untiring historian of Iranian cinema Abbas Baharloo. I'm publishing it here for the first time. — EK

Esmail Koushan: The Storm of Life

By Abbas Baharloo

A portrait of Esamil Koushan, one of the fathering figures of Iranian cinema

Esmail Koushan, producer, director, screenwriter, cinema owner and founder of the largest film studio in Iran, has been described as both ‘the father of Iranian cinema’ and ‘the bad guy of Iranian cinema’.

From the very beginning, Koushan was determined to be a pioneer. He was responsible for the first foreign film to be dubbed into Persian; he founded the first film studio in Iran, Mitra Film, after cinema had experienced a fallow period (1937-47) following the art form’s initial development there; and was the producer of the first Iranian talkie to be made in Iran, The Storm of Life (1948). He made possible the production of the first episodic film in Iran (The Spring Variety, 1949); he initiated the making of the first black and white CinemaScope film (Accusation, directed by Shapur Yasami, 1956), colour CinemaScope film (The Runaway Bride, which he directed himself, 1958), and the first films co-produced with France (Ebram in Paris, directed by himself, 1964), Turkey (Divine Justice, 1969), and West Germany (The Sleeping Lion, directed by Esmail’s brother, Mahmoud Koushan, 1976). He also initiated the publication of one of the first Iranian film magazines (Alam-e Honar or ‘The World of Art’, 1951).

Divine Justice (1969)

Esmail Harir-Forush (his surname meant ‘the silk merchant’), who following the example of his uncle changed his surname to Koushan, was born in Tehran in 1917. He passed away in the same city on 5th July 1983. He began his studies at the Dar ol-Fonun School, and at the end of autumn 1937, at a time when the reign of Reza Shah had led to a contraction of commercial relations with Britain and an increase in contacts with Germany, he moved to the latter country to continue his education, studying economics in Berlin. At a time when he benefited from no financial assistance, he made the acquaintance of Bahram Keykhosro Shahrokh, son of a prominent Iranian politician and a newsreader for Radio Berlin.