Iranian New Wave

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Iranian New Wave refers to a new 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, were also contributing significantly to the establishment of the New Wave. In 1969, after the release of The Cow directed by Darius Mehrjui followed by Masoud Kimiai's Qeysar, and Nasser Taqvai's Calm in Front of Others, 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]

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 Iranian New Wave are Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Majid Majidi, Bahram Beizai, Darius Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Masoud Kimiay, Sohrab Shahid-Saless, Ebrahim Forouzesh, Parviz Kimiavi, Samira Makhmalbaf, Amir Naderi, Abolfazl Jalili, Mahmoud rahmani, and 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.[2]

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." [3]

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.[4]

Features of New Wave Iranian film, in particular the works of legendary Abbas Kiarostami, have been classified by some as postmodern.[5]

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."

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