source: Lerd – A Man of no Integrity, 2017 (Mohammed Rasoulof). Picture: Theupcoming.co.uk
FARSI CINEMA: A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN
by Rasha Rehman, Juhi Dhingra
While most popular global cinemas commonly rely on famous actors, grand themes, use of technology, science fiction, and common plotlines, Farsi cinema continues to create cinematic masterpieces of art and culture in its own unique poetic fashion. Although Farsi cinema did (and still does) try to conform to certain aspects of global commercial cinema influences, artistic indie movies form a significant proportion of Persian cinema at large. Instead of relying on the latest tech such as their Hollywood counterparts, Farsi filmmakers place emphasis on poetry, art, storylines, narratives, and perspectives – thereby compensating for the lack of technology and equipment faced by the industry as a whole.
The transition of Farsi cinema in Iran – from the early 20thcentury era of silent movies to the First New Wave, followed by the Second and Third Waves – has been nothing less than magnificent and drastic. What started as a courtly privilege soon pivoted to the music-and-dance routine, a mimicry of Hollywood and Bollywood trends of the time. The New Wave, in the 1960s, was a dramatic departure from these themes. With its unflinching depictions of life in Iran, it was seen as an attempt to voice frustration against the lack of representation of Iranian culture and its profound love for art. However, the Iranian revolution led to a complete overhaul and led to a dedication to finding a unique voice. Since then, the industry has seen a refinement of these principles – with filmmakers abiding by Farsi artistic values and demonstrating a sense of responsibility toward their kin. It graduated from a cinema that merely influenced people to a cinema inspired by its people and their lives, struggles, and ambitions.
source: Rose Issa. Picture: SerpentineGalleries.org
Rose Issa, who has championed Farsi cinema for nearly 30 years, summarizes the New Wave beautifully, noting that the cinema “champions the poetry in everyday life and the ordinary person by blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality.” This is exactly what you can expect to see in the work of cinematic geniuses such as Abbas Kiarostami, Asghar Farhadi, Jafar Panahi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Majid Majidi. With breakthrough movies such as The Salesman, A Separation, Children of Heaven, Fireworks Wednesday, Taxi, Taste of Cherry, The Song of Sparrows, and more recently 3 Faces and A Man of Integrity, such pioneers have upheld Farsi cinema’s pride with their allegorical storytelling and aesthetic cinematography.
source: 3 Faces, 2018. (Jafar Panahi). Picture: Variety.com
The transition, which has partly been realized in Iran, is yet to take shape in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which continue to struggle with lack of resources, representation, infrastructure, and equipment. This is where Farsi Cinema Center’s role comes into play. At FCC, we aim to plug the gaps faced by Farsi filmmakers with respect to challenges of filmmaking, production, and distribution, and aid them in pollinating their art and taking it to a global audience. If you have a story you’d like to present on-screen, reach out to us to understand how we can help.