“Iranian director Asghar Farhadi celebrates after receiving the award for best screenplay for his film “The Salesman” during the closing ceremony of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 22, 2016. (Photo by AFP)”, Source: PressTv

Farsi Cinema Takes Center Stage on IndieWire’s Top 100 Movies of the Decade

by Marisa Sittheeamorn

On July 22 2019, IndieWire announced its best 100 movies of the decade list. On this list were Hollywood mega-hits including La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016), Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010), the black horror-comedy Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017) and Marvel universe’s Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018). Unlike many film ranking lists, IndieWire was not shy to celebrate the well-deserved cinematic achievements of international filmmakers.

The international films included on the list, while new to mainstream Hollywood audiences, came as no surprise to arthouse-loving, festival-going cinephiles. Palme d’Or winning and nominated films such as Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand, 2010), Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirkazu, Japan, 2018), and The Handmaiden (Park Chan-Wook, South Korea, 2016) are just a few of the notable titles representing filmmakers around the world.

Still from The Handmaiden (Park Chan-Wook, 2016), Source: CNN

While I could praise the number of historically significant films on this list all day, Farsi Cinema Center takes this moment to highlight the three Farsi films recognized by IndieWire. Despite exclusively representing the cinema of Iran, the inclusion of Iranian film in the rankings suggests added appreciation and integration of Farsi culture on a global scale.

Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy (2010) topped the list at the number three ranking, with Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb’s This is Not A Film (2011), and Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011), coming in at 30 and 45 respectively. Although these films were released within the first two years of the decade, they all differ in approach to storytelling and have left distinct imprints on the industry as a whole.

Kiarostami and Juliette Binoche on the set of Certified Copy, (Kiarostami, 2010), Source: The Criterion Collection

Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami (2010)

One of his last works, Certified Copy was Kiarostami’s first full length feature film shot outside Iran. Set in Tuscany, the film follows the romance shared between a French woman and an English writer. According to film critic David Ehrlich, “what begins as as a heady conceptual exercise thaws into an emotionally overwhelming vivisection of truth, art, and the very nature of love itself.” Considered one of Iran’s most iconic contemporary filmmakers, Kiarostami’s work has undeniably styled and informed the future of narrative Iranian cinema.

Still from This is Not A Film (Panahi, 2011), Source: Walker Art

This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb (2011)

The only Iranian documentary on this list, This is Not A Film captures Jafar Panahi’s life while under house arrest in his Tehran apartment. Shot on an iPhone, the film ironically contemplates the purpose of filmmaking as Panahi is prohibited from making them. The film was snuck out of Tehran to Cannes on a USB hidden in a birthday cake, where it premiered in 2011. The Guardian’s film critic, Peter Bradshaw, calls the film “a compelling personal document, a quietly passionate statement of artistic intent, and an uncompromising testament to his [Panahi’s] belief in cinema.”

Still from A Separation (Farhadi, 2011), Source: Cinemablography

A Separation, Asghar Farhadi (2011)

Asghar Farhadi was the first Iranian to win an Oscar for A Separation in 2011. Taking home the award for Best Foreign Language Film, A Separation tells the story of the dissolution of a marriage in contemporary Iran. IndieWire’s Zack Sharf describes the plot well when he writes, “Farhadi’s shattering drama meticulously leverages a custody battle into a searing examination of the ties that bind families together (and break them apart) in an oppressive society.”

These three films continue to shape the future of the Farsi film industry today, inspiring a new generation of filmmakers to make their stories known. As the industries of Afghanistan and Tajikistan continue to grow, FCC remains optimistic about the rise of Farsi cinema as a whole, and looks forward to witnessing the inclusion of other Farsi regions on IndieWire’s list in 2030.

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