Iranian New Wave

Iranian New Wave refers to a movement in Iranian cinema. It started in 1964 with Hajir Darioush's second film Serpent's Skin (جلد مار), which was based on D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover featuring Fakhri Khorvash and Jamshid Mashayekhi. Darioush's two important early social documentaries But Problems Arose (ولی افتاد مشکلها) in 1965, dealing with the cultural alienation of the Iranian youth, and Face 75 (چهره 75), a critical look at the westernization of the rural culture, which was a prizewinner at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival, also contributed significantly to the establishment of the New Wave. In 1969, after the release of The Cow (گاو) directed by Darius Mehrjui followed by Masoud Kimiai's Qeysar (قیصر), and Nasser Taqvai's Calm in Front of Others آرامش در حضور دیگران(banned in 1969 and re-release in 1972), immediately followed by Bahram Beyzai's Downpour, the New Wave became well established as a prominent cultural, dynamic and intellectual trend. The Iranian viewer became discriminating, encouraging the new trend to prosper and develop.[1]


Early Iranian cinema

Cinema in Iran began to develop in 1900, when Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar was introduced to the cinematograph upon traveling to France. He ordered his chief photographer, Mirza Ibrahim Khan Akasbashi, to buy one. Visiting the Festival of Flowers in Belgium, Akasbashi turned the cinematograph toward the flower-adorned carriages, making him the first Iranian to ever film anything. Theaters were opened beginning in 1903 by Mirza Ibrahim Sahfbashi. The first film school was opened in 1930 by Russian-Armenian immigrant Ovanes Ohanian, who had studied at The School of Cinematic Art in Moscow. He started his first cinema school 1924 after arriving in Calcutta, India: after facing many difficulties he decided to move to Iran to start the first cinema school in Tehran where he created the first full-length Iranian silent film called Haji Agha and his second movie Abi va Rabi.[2] After traveling to India in 1927, Abdul-Hussein Sepanta was inspired to make Persian language films, of which he ended up making four. Due to domination of the Pahlavi regime over all aspects of culture and the economy, as well as its very harsh censorship of films from 1925 to 1979, the cinema had difficulty developing in a way that reflected its own culture. In this time, Film Farsi began which has been described as “low-quality movies for audiences who were becoming addicted to such fare, losing any taste or demand for anything different.” Film Farsi is characterized by its mimicking of the popular cinemas of Hollywood and India, and its common use of song and dance routines.[3] Forough Farrokhzad made the short documentary film The House Is Black in 1963, and this film is considered to be a precursor to the new wave cinema. Its unflinching depictions of life in a leper colony, paired with artistically composed shots and her own poetry, made this a truly unique film. Other films such as Farrokh Ghaffari's The Night of the Hunchback (1964), Abrahim Golestan's Mud-Brick and Mirror (1965), and Ferydoon Rahnema's Siavush in Persepolis are all considered to be precursors as well.

First Wave

The first wave of Iranian new wave cinema came about as a reaction to the popular cinema at the time that did not reflect the norms of life for Iranians or the artistic taste of the society. It began in 1969 and then ended with the beginning of the Iranian revolution in 1979. The films produced were original, artistic and political. The first films considered to be part of this movement are Masoud Kimiai's Qeysar and Darius Mehrjui's The Cow (1969). Other films considered to be part of this movement are Nasser Taghvai's Peace in the Presence of Others (1969/1972) which was banned and then heavily censored upon its release, Bahram Beyzai's Downpour, and Sohrab Shahid Saless's “A Simple Event” (1973) and “Still Life” (1974).

Second and Third Wave

The pioneers of the Iranian New Wave were directors like Hajir Darioush, Dariush Mehrjui, Masoud Kimiay, Nasser Taqvai, Ebrahim Golestan, Sohrab Shahid Saless, Bahram Beizai, and Parviz Kimiavi, who made innovative art films with highly political and philosophical tones and poetic language. Subsequent films of this type have become known as the New Iranian cinema to distinguish them from their earlier roots. The most notable figures of the Second Wave (after Islamic Revolution) are Amir Naderi, Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Jafar Panahi, Hossein Shahabi, Majid Majidi & Asghar Farhadi .

The factors leading to the rise of the New Wave in Iran were, in part, due to the intellectual and political movements of the time. A romantic climate was developing after the 19 August 1953 coup in the sphere of arts. Alongside this, a socially committed literature took shape in the 1950s and reached a peak in the 1960s, which many consider the golden era of contemporary Persian literature.[4]

Iranian New Wave films shared some characteristics with the European art films of the period, in particular Italian Neorealism. However, in her article 'Real Fictions', Rose Issa argues that Iranian films have a distinctively Iranian cinematic language "that champions the poetry in everyday life and the ordinary person by blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality, feature film with documentary." She also argues that this unique approach has inspired European cinema directors to emulate this style, citing Michael Winterbottom's award-winning In This World (2002) as an homage to contemporary Iranian cinema. Issa claims that "This new, humanistic aesthetic language, determined by the film-makers' individual and national identity, rather than the forces of globalism, has a strong creative dialogue not only on homeground but with audiences around the world."[5]

Moreover, Iranian new wave films are rich in poetry and painterly images. There is a line back from modern Iranian cinema to the ancient oral Persian storytellers and poets, via the poems of Omar Khayyam.[6]

Features of New Wave Iranian film, in particular the works of legendary Abbas Kiarostami, have been classified by some as postmodern.[7]

In Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future (2001), Hamid Dabashi describes modern Iranian cinema and the phenomenon of [Iranian] national cinema as a form of cultural modernity. According to Dabashi, "the visual possibility of seeing the historical person (as opposed to the eternal Qur'anic man) on screen is arguably the single most important event allowing Iranians access to modernity."


  • realistic, documentary style
  • poetic & allegorical storytelling
  • use of 'child trope' (in response to regulations on adult material within films)
  • self-aware, reflexive tone
  • focus on rural lower-class
  • lack of 'male gaze'

Precursors and Influences

First Wave

Second Wave

Major Figures

See also


  1. ^ Al-Ahram Weekly | People | Limelight Archived 2006-10-09 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Mirbakhtyar, Shahla (2006). Iranian Cinema And The Islamic Revolution. McFarland & Company Incorporated.
  4. ^ The New Wave in Iranian Cinema - From Past to Present
  5. ^ Real Fictions
  6. ^ Steve Nottingham: Iranian Cinema
  7. ^ Abbas Kiarostami? The Truth Behind Reality

External links

Abolfazl Jalili

Abolfazl Jalili (Persian: ابوالفضل جلیلی‎, born 1957 in Saveh, Iran) is an internationally acclaimed Iranian film director. He belongs to the Iranian new wave movement.

Jalili studied directing at the Iranian College of Dramatic Arts, then worked for national television (IRIB), where he produced several children's films. His 'Det' Means Girl (1994) won prizes in Venice film festival and Nantes. He was one of Rotterdam's Film Makers in Focus in 1999.

Bahman Ghobadi

Bahman Ghobadi (Persian: بهمن قبادی‎; Kurdish: به‌همه‌ن قوبادی / Behmen Qubadî) is an Iranian Kurdish film director, producer and writer. He was born on February 1, 1969 in Baneh, Kurdistan province. Ghobadi belongs to the "new wave" of Iranian cinema.

Bahram Beyzai

Bahrām Beyzāie (also spelt Beizai, Beyza'i, Persian: بهرام بیضائی‎, born 26 December 1938) is a critically and popularly acclaimed filmmaker, playwright, theatre director, screenwriter, film editor, and ostād ("master") of Persian letters, arts and Iranian studies.

Bahram Beyzaie is the son of the poet Ne'matallah Beyzai (best known by his literary pseudonym "Zokā'i"). The celebrated poet Adib Beyzai, known as one of the most profound poets of 20th-century Iran, is Bahram's paternal uncle. Bahram Beyzaie's paternal grandfather, Mirzā Mohammad-Rezā Ārāni ("Ebn Ruh"), and paternal great-grandfather, the mulla Mohammad-Faqih Ārāni ("Ruh'ol-Amin"), were also notable poets.In spite of his somewhat belated start in cinema, Beyzai is often considered a pioneer of a generation of filmmakers whose works are sometimes described as the Iranian New Wave. His Bashu, the Little Stranger (1986) was voted "Best Iranian Film of all time" in November 1999 by a Persian movie magazine Picture World poll of 150 Iranian critics and professionals. Still, even before the outset of his cinematic career in 1970, he was a leading playwright (as well as theater historian), so much so that he is often considered the greatest playwright of the Persian language, and holds a reputation as "the Shakespeare of Persia."Since 2010, Beyzai has lived and taught at Stanford University, United States.

Cinema of Iran

The Cinema of Iran (Persian: سینمای ایران), also known as the Cinema of Persia, refers to the cinema and film industries in Iran which produce a variety of commercial films annually. Iranian art films have garnered international fame and now enjoy a global following.

Iran cinema has many ups and downs. you can read Iran cinema history in here.

Along with China, Iran has been lauded as one of the best exporters of cinema in the 1990s. Some critics now rank Iran as the world's most important national cinema, artistically, with a significance that invites comparison to Italian neorealism and similar movements in past decades. A range of international film festivals have honored Iranian cinema in the last twenty years. Many film critics from around the world, have praised Iranian cinema as one of the world's most important artistic cinemas.

Dariush Mehrjui

Dariush Mehrju'i (Persian: داریوش مهرجویی‎, born 8 December 1939, also spelled as Mehrjui, Mehrjoui, and Mehrjuyi) is an Iranian director, screenwriter, producer, film editor and a member of the Iranian Academy of the Arts.Mehrjui was a founding member of the Iranian New Wave movement of the early 1970s. His second film, Gaav, is considered to be the first film of this movement, which also included Masoud Kimiai and Nasser Taqvai. Most of his films are inspired by literature and adapted from Iranian and foreign novels and plays.

Fereydoun Rahnema

Fereydoun Rahnema (Persian: فریدون رهنما‎; b. 1930 – d. 1975) was an Iranian film director and poet. He is most known for his 1960 short film, Takht-e Jamshid (Persepolis), and his feature film, Siavash dar Takht-e Jamshid (Siavash in Persepolis) in 1965. Although none of his films saw a theatrical release, they were highly influential within the Iranian New Wave movement. He also served as the director of Iran Zamin from 1966 to 1975.Rahnema studied film in Paris, France. He began work on Siavash dar Takht-e Jamshid with funding from a number of acquaintances. Shot in studio and on location in the ruins of Persepolis, the film is based on Ferdowsi's poetic epic Shahnameh. It tells the story of Crown Prince Siâvash who leaves his homeland in order to avoid dishonoring his father Shah Kay Kāvus. He marries the daughter of the local king Afrasiab, but is betrayed and murdered. The film is notable for its then-uncommon temporal experimentation with footage of tourists trekking through the ruins of Persepolis interspersed with the older setting.

Hossein Shahabi

Hossein Shahabi (Persian: حسین شهابی‎ pronunciation ; Born on 28 November 1967, is an Iranian film director, screenwriter and film producer He belongs to the third generation of Iranian New Wave who is making his first feature film and was appreciated and praised by critics and became famous internationally.

Irene Zazians

Irene Zazians (Armenian: Իրեն Զազյանց; Persian: ایرن زازیانس‎; August 20, 1927 - July 28, 2012), known mononymously as Irene, was an Iranian-Armenian actress of cinema and television. She worked with famous Iranian new wave directors both before and after the 1979 revolution, such as Samuel Khachikian, Amir Naderi, Nosrat Karimi, Masoud Kimiyayi, and Alireza Davood Nejad. Her two films after the revolution, The Red Line directed by Kimiyayi and The Reward by Davood Nejad, were banned.She also appeared in four TV series. She portrayed Mahde Olya (Nasereddin Shah's mother) in Soltan-e Sahebgheran directed by Ali Hatami in 1976. Her role in Hezar Dastan, another series directed by Ali Hatami, was cut out. After the Iranian revolution she was banned from taking part in any artistic activities. She travelled to Germany, where she re-trained as a beautician. She returned to Iran in 1986, during the harshest time of the Iran-Iraq war. Her last performance in cinema was in Shirin in 2008, a film by Abbas Kiarostami. She died of lung cancer in 2012 in Tehran.

Italian neorealism

Italian neorealism (Italian: Neorealismo), also known as the Golden Age, is a national film movement characterized by stories set amongst the poor and the working class, filmed on location, frequently using non-professional actors. Italian neorealism films mostly contend with the difficult economic and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy, representing changes in the Italian psyche and conditions of everyday life, including poverty, oppression, injustice, and desperation.

List of Iranian films of the 1960s

A list of films produced in Iran ordered by year of release in the 1960s. For an alphabetical list of Iranian films see Category:Iranian films

Lists of Iranian films

A list of films produced in Iran ordered by year of release. For an alphabetical list of Iranian films see Category:Iranian films.

List of Iranian films made before 1960

List of Iranian films of the 1960s

List of Iranian films of the 1970s

List of Iranian films of the 1980s

List of Iranian films of the 1990s

List of Iranian films of the 2000s

List of Iranian films of the 2010s

Mohsen Amiryoussefi

Mohsen Amiryoussefi (born 1972) graduated with a degree in mathematics from Isfahan University. After writing several screenplays for both screen and stage, he completed his first short film in 1997, based on a story by Kafka. Amiryoussefi first came to prominence with his 2004 black comedy “Bitter Dream,” about a funeral director. It took home the Camera d’Or at that year’s Cannes as well as generous critical acclaim. He belongs to the third generation of "Iranian New Wave".

Opera film

An opera film is a recording of an opera on film.

Persian Film

Persian Film also known as Film Farsi (Persian: فیلم‌فارسی‎) is the genre of movies produced normally in the cinema of Iran before the Iranian revolution of 1979. The major focus for Iranian films were thrillers, melodrama, music, and introducing unrealistic heroes. Many people refer to it as the Iranian version of Bollywood. This kind of filmmaking was suppressed after revolution by more strict laws on relations between men and women. The suppression of the Persian Film encouraged the Iranian New Wave of modern films in Iranian cinema.

Pouri Banayi

Pouri Banayi (Persian: پوری بنایی‎; born 11 October 1940) is an Iranian actress. She acted in more than 85 feature films between 1965 and 1979. During her years of acting before the Iranian revolution, she cooperated with directors such as Mehdi Reisfirooz, Samuel Khachikian, Masoud Kimiai, Farrokh Ghaffari, and Fereidoun Goleh. Her most memorable performances are in Iranian new wave films such as Masoud Kimiai's Qeysar in 1969 and in Fereydun Gole's The Mandrake.

She also acted in some foreign films such as Missile X: The Neutron Bomb Incident directed by Leslie H. Martinson in which she co-starred with Peter Graves. In another film directed by Fereydun Gole, named The Moon and a Murmur (1977), she co-starred with John Ireland and Mickey Rooney. Jean Negulesco chose her and Behrouz Vosoughi to play the roles of a couple in his last film The Invincible Six (1970). Jun'ya Sato, the Japanese director chose her for the lead actress in his 1973 adaptation of the manga, Golgo 13.

Samira Makhmalbaf

Samira Makhmalbaf (Persian: سمیرا مخملباف‎, Samira Makhmalbaaf) (born February 15, 1980) is an internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and script writer. She is the daughter of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the film director and writer. Samira Makhmalbaf is considered to be one of the most influential directors as part of the Iranian New Wave.

Shahram Alidi

Shahram Alidi (born 11 December 1971, Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Iran) is an Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film producer. He is also a painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. Alidi is part of a generation of filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave. These filmmakers share many common techniques including the use of poetic dialogue

and allegorical story telling. His credits include the 2009 film Whisper with the wind.

The Cow (film)

The Cow (Persian: گاو‎, Gāv or Gav) is a 1969 Iranian film directed by Dariush Mehrjui, written by Gholam-Hossein Saedi based on his own play and novel, and starring Ezzatolah Entezami as Masht Hassan. Critics widely consider it the first film of the Iranian New Wave.

The House Is Black

The House Is Black (Persian: خانه سیاه است, Kẖạneh sy̰ạh ạst‎) is an acclaimed Iranian documentary short film directed by Forough Farrokhzad.

The film is a look at life and suffering in a leper colony and focuses on the human condition and the beauty of creation. It is spliced with Farrokhzad's narration of quotes from the Old Testament, the Koran and her own poetry. The film features footage from the Bababaghi Hospice leper colony. It was the only film she directed before her death in 1967. During shooting, she became attached to a child of two lepers, whom she later adopted.

Although the film attracted little attention outside Iran when released, it has since been recognised as a landmark in Iranian film. Reviewer Eric Henderson described the film as "[o]ne of the prototypal essay films, The House is Black paved the way for the Iranian New Wave."

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