Bahram Beyzai

Bahrām Beyzāie (also spelt Bahrām Beizai, Bahrām Beyzaie, Persian: بهرام بیضائی‎, born 26 December 1938) is a theatre and cinema director, as well as a screenwriter.

Bahram Beyzaie was born into a prominent literary family, his father Ne'mat'ollāh Beyzāie and a number of his family were poets. Beyzai is often considered a follower of the Iranian New Wave who started to make films rather late in his life. Beyzaie began his career in the theater, writing plays and directing them. Since 2010, Beyzai has lived and worked at Stanford University, United States.

بهرام بیضائی
Bahrām Beyzaie
Bahram Bayzai
Bahrām Beyzaie pensive, photographed by Fakhradin Fakhraddini about 2002
Born December 26, 1938 (age 79)
Tehran, Iran
Occupation Playwright, Film director, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Film editor
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Monir-A'zam Raminfar (m. 1966)
Mojdeh Shamsaie (m. 1992)
Children Niloofar, Negar, Niasan


Beyzaie was born in Tehran, to a housewife mother and a poet father who was working in an administrative position in Iran's judiciary.

During his study at the Dar'ol-Fonoun high school, Beyzaie wrote two historical plays and skipped classes and to go to the movies.He began to study Persian literature at the University of Tehran. But he dropped out of the undergraduate program in 1959. only to return to the adjacent He became a visiting professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts a decade later, but was expelled in the Iranian Cultural Revolution in 1980.]] At the age of 21 he did some research on the traditional Persian plays, particularly Ta'zieh. This in turn led him to study Eastern theater.

Playwriting in the 1960s

During the 1960s Beyzaie published a number of articles in various arts and literary Persian journals as well as several plays such as Sindbad's Eighth Voyage, Banquet, Serpent King, The Marionettes, The Story of the Hidden Moon.

In 1968, Beyzaie joined the Iranian Writer's Guild (Kanun-e Nevisandegan-e Iran). In 1969 he was invited to teach at the Theater Department of the College of Fine Arts at University of Tehran. He chaired this department from 1972 to 1979.

Bahram Beyzayi Wedding
Beyzai in his first wedding in the company of other artists, notably Parviz Fannizadeh and Parviz Sayyad, 1965

His daughter, Niloofar Beyzaie, is a theater director and playwright.

Beyzaie published a number of studies such as A Study on Iranian Theatre (Namayesh dar Iran), theatre of Japan and theatre of China. Some of his plays, such as Death of Yazdgerd, have been translated in other languages and was made into a film by Beyzaie himself.

1970s and the outset of a cinematic career

In 1969, Beyzaie began his film career by directing the short film Amu Sibilou (Uncle Mustachio) followed by "Safar" in 1970 in the framework of Iranian New Wave that includes directors such as Nasser Taghvai, Ali Hatami, Sohrab Shahid Sales, Dariush Mehrjui, Abbas Kiarostami, Khosrow Sinai and others.

He made his first feature film "Ragbar" ("Downpour"), in 1971. His other films include Qaribe va Meh (Stranger and the Fog) (1974), Cherike-ye Tara (Ballad of Tara) (1979), Bashu, the Little Stranger (1986, released in 1989), Shāyad Vaghti digar (Maybe another time) (1988) and Mosaferan (Travellers) (1992).

Filmmaking and plays in the 1980s and 1990

After the Iranian Cultural Revolution in 1981 Beyzaie was expelled from the university. He continued writing and making films though. His screenplay Ruz-e Vaqe'e (The Fateful Day) was adapted into a film in 1995 and another screenplay was adapted into a film named Fasl-e Panjom (The fifth season) in 1996, whilst he also made four other films.

He married the actress and make-up artist Mozhdeh Shamsai in 1992 and in 1995 he left Iran for Strasbourg at the invitation of the International Parliament of Writers. Soon however he returned and staged The Lady Aoi in Tehran.

After 2000

In 2001, Beyzaie made Killing Mad Dogs, after which he managed to stage three plays. He left Iran in 2010 at the invitation of Stanford University, and has since been the Daryabari Visiting Professor of Iranian Studies, teaching courses in Persian theatre, cinema and mythology. There he has given workshops on the Shahnameh, the history of Iranian performing arts, Iranian as well as Semitic myths. He has also staged several of his plays including his nine-hour Tarabnameh.

Cinematic style

The main theme of Beyzaie works is the history and “crisis of identity” which is related to Iranian cultural and mythical symbols and paradigms.

He was awarded as new young director whose talent was lauded with appreciation and applaud for his Film Ragbar in Tehran Film festival,in 1972. Some of his films such as Ballad of Tara (1980) and Death of Yazdgerd (1981) have never received a screening permit in Iran. His Bashu, the Little Stranger was only permitted screening after the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and was released in 1989.


Filmography (as director)

  • Amū Sibilū (1969 - short)
  • Safar (1970 - short - a.k.a. The Journey)
  • Ragbār (1971 - a.k.a. Downpour)
  • Qaribé va Meh (1974 - a.k.a. The Stranger and the Fog)
  • Kalāq (1976 - a.k.a. The Crow or The Raven )
  • Charike-ye Tārā (1979 - a.k.a. Ballad of Tara)
  • Marg-e Yazdgerd (1982 - a.k.a. Death of Yazdgerd)
  • Bashu, the Little Stranger (1986 - a.k.a. Bashu - released 1989)
  • Shāyad Vaghti digar (1988 - a.k.a. Maybe Some Other Time)
  • Mosāferan (1992 - a.k.a. Travellers)
  • Goft-o-gū bā Bād (1998 - short - a.k.a. Talking with the Wind)
  • Sagkoshi (2001 - a.k.a. Killing Mad Dogs)
  • Qāli-ye Sokhangū (2006)
  • Vaqti hame khābim (When we are all asleep) (2009)


Beyzaie has over 50 published plays, some of which are as follows. These works have occasionally appeared in French, English, German and other translations too.

Frequent collaborators

Frequent collaborations
Actor The Marionettes (1967) Heritage and Banquet (1967) King Serpent (1969) Uncle Mustache (1970) Downpour (1971) The Journey (1972) The Stranger and the Fog (1974) The Crow (1977) Ballad of Tara (1979) Death of Yazdgerd (1979) Death of Yazdgerd (film) (1981) Bashu, the Little Stranger (1986) Maybe Some Other Time (1988) Travellers (1992) The Lady Aoi (1998) The Deeds of Bondar the Counselor (1998) Speaking with the Wind (1998) Killing Mad Dogs (2001) The Thousand-First Night (2003) The Passion of Makan and Rokhshid (2005) The Eloquent Carpet (2006) Afra (2007) When We Are All Asleep (2009) Jana and Baladoor (2012) Arash (2014) Ardaviraf's Report (2015) Tarabnameh (2016)
Mojdeh Shamsai Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jamshid Layeq Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Manouchehr Farid Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Enayat Bakhshi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Susan Taslimi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Parvaneh Masoumi Yes Yes Yes Yes
Majid Mozafari
Sami Tahassoni
Hessein Kasbian
Said Oveissi
Karim Akbari Mobarakeh
Mehdi Hashemi
Ali Omrani
Afshin Hashemi
Parviz Poorhosseini
Shabnam Tolouei


Beyzai in a St Andrews cassock having received a D.Litt. honoris causa 2017
Beyzai, dressed in a St Andrews black cassock with a yellow hood, having just received a D.Litt. honoris causa, June 2017

The prizes, awards and honors he has won for his films and plays are too numerous to list.

Most recently in 2017, The University of St Andrews awarded Beyzai an honorary doctorate in letters.[2]

2014: Bita Prize for Persian Arts

2012 Farhang Foundation Heritage Award


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  • Dabashi, Hamid (2007). Masters & Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema. Washington, DC: Mage Publishers. ISBN 0-934211-85-X.
  • Yar-Shater, Ehsan (1984). "The Modern Literary Idiom". In Ricks, Thomas M. Critical Perspectives on Modern Persian Literature. Three Continents Press. pp. 42–62. ISBN 0-914478-95-8.

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