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16 October 2009 @ 07:23 pm
on Iranian cinema  
Today we had guest speakers in our film class - half a dozen Iranian directors, writers and an actor.  I now live in a city where people from all around the world just appear because the film industry is actually, you know, um, here.

They were brought into the country by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (yeah, they're the Oscars people), for "Up Close & Personal: Iranian Filmmakers in Their Own Words"

It brought me up a little short - even though the speakers seemed fairly resigned to it, the idea that you can't leave your country just because your government decides you can't is frightening. (they were literally stopped at the airport apparently - even though they had already received approvals on the visas and everything)  The translator stressed that they weren't in police custody or anything, they were just not allowed to leave the country, as if that should have been much more reassuring.

Things I didn't know about Iranian film: Um, everything?

They've had a film industry there since 1900, though the first film wasn't shown in theatres until the 1930s.  There's a populist style of filmmaking that locates itself somewhere between mainstream hollywood films and bollywood films.  The art-filmmakers emerged and identified themselves themselves with the french avaunt-guarde (go figure - everybody loves those guys).

One of the most revealing things they said went a little something like this:

Most of the national cinemas look at Hollywood and want to emulate it's distribution, it's traditions, and it's studio system and the like.  However, we don't.  Even though we have to work within some restrictions [their government has to actually approve scripts before they start filming, and then after the film is done they assess a rating / if it's ok for distribution] we are making films in an entirely different way - through government support, through our own distribution system, and not through some Hollywood-mimic.  And we feel that Iranian cinema has something to say to the world and that the world is listening.

All in all they were far more apt to joke around than I thought they would be, and were far more interested in giving advice to young filmmakers than I cared for (but that's ok, it was probably good for other people to hear that).

Really interesting day though
brutti_ma_buoni: The Seabrutti_ma_buoni on October 17th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I used to have an Iranian flatmate for a while. Really brought home how little I know of the place at all; or rather how much I think in media cliches which have nothing to do with everyday life.

My flatmate was female and had an advanced degree in physics; she'd come over here to do more extensive work with experts, but she wasn't fleeing anything. Tehran's a major modern city where her [divorced] mother lives without any problems. Apologies, since you probably know all this, but I'm almost repeating it for my own benefit. Yet sometimes, in the midst of all that 'normality', she'd still throw me with reference to some total lack of freedom I never have to think about.

Have you seen Persepolis? Not that that's Iranian cinema, but it's certainly an interesting insight into the country's social development, and a fascinating film too.
my monkied brain: _nihon-flowerkatekat1010 on October 23rd, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
how much I think in media cliches which have nothing to do with everyday life.

THIS. So much this! Every time I go somewhere outside of this country I am reminded of that again and again.

And no apologies necessary - my sum total of information was some googling, a couple of brief academic articles, a movie with a couple of women in it, and the afternoon of speakers. I have heard that about Tehran before (somewhere I think I ws reading an article on women bankers there?) but it's amazing to me how easy it is to have information like that pushed out by the constant media emphasis on how foreign everything is.

And no, I haven't seen Persepolis, but handily netflix has it on instant play! :D thanks for the recommendation!!