I know that sometimes I can discuss rather mundane topics, such as my pressure washer or my schedule, but I would like this blog to be about culture as well! I am very passionate about all elements of Iranian culture including music, history, and film, so today I want to talk about film!
Most Americans may not think of Iran when they think of great art, but we have been a very artistic civilization since the beginning. The early Persian empires made pottery which was sought after all over the ancient world. That is not even to mention our rugs, which you surely must have heard about. Islamic and Persian art and culture is to be seen everywhere from the woodwork in the great mosques of the world, with their intricate patterns to the tapestries and rugs which were woven for so many of the great houses of Europe, where they have been preserved much more stably than those in Iran itself. So we have been making great art for many years now, and it is as much a part of our culture as yours!
Some of our great movies and filmmakers are beginning to be more appreciated here in the West. There are now many film festivals which pay tribute to the great directors of Iranian cinema across Europe, and films from Iran are regular contenders to win the best foreign film awards at the American Academy Awards. Maybe you have heard of films such as A Separation, which won many awards a few years ago.
Iranian movies are a large part of what is considered “new wave” film, and modernism. They have elements of magical realism, as it is called here, but they also have a reputation for being much less polished and artificial than Western movies.
One Iranian film became very famous this year, which is called The Salesman. It was nominated for an Oscar and eventually won, but the director did not attend the awards because of the travel ban on many Muslims that is in place now. This raised a lot of attention about how many great artists from the Middle East are working today, especially in film.
In contrast, the mayor of London, who is the city’s first Muslim mayor, held a free showing of The Salesman in Trafalgar Square on the same night as the Oscar’s were held here in America. That just goes to show what a difference there is even between the USA and the UK.
If you have not seen them already, I would very much encourage you to go and watch The Salesman and A Separation, among the other great Iranian films! There is a helpful list on IMDB if you are unfamiliar with the titles to look for. I recommend the films of Abbas Kiarostami in particular. He is perhaps the most famous of Iranian directors, and since he has died recently many of his films are easy to find.