February 15, 1980 |
|Occupation||Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter|
Samira Makhmalbaf (Persian: سمیرا مخملباف, Samiraa Makhmalbaaf) (born February 15, 1980, Tehran) 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.
At the age of 20, Samira studied Psychology and Law at Roehampton University in London. "Raised on the set of her father’s films, it is impossible for Samira Makhmalbaf to imagine life outside cinema. She has had minor acting roles in many of her father’s films, and at the age of eight played an important role in The Cyclist. In 1995, at the age of fifteen, Samira abandoned formal education to devote herself entirely to cinema, studying primarily with her father at home." 
At the age of eight, she played in The Cyclist(1987) directed by her father, Mohsen Makhmalbaf the celebrated Iranian filmmaker. She left high school when she was 14 to study cinema in the Mohhmalbaf Film House for five years. At the age of 17, after directing two video productions, she went on to direct the movie The Apple. One year later, the 18-year-old director went on to become the youngest director in the world participating in the official section of the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. The Apple has been invited to more than 100 international film festivals in a period of two years, while going to the screen in more than 30 countries. In an interview at the London Film Festival in 1998, Samira Makhmalbaf stated that she felt that her film The Apple owed its existence to the new circumstances and changed atmosphere that prevailed in Iran as a result of the Khatami presidency. National Film Theatre, 12 November 1998.
"In 1999, Samira made her second feature film titled “The Blackboard” in Kurdistan of Iran, and for the second time was selected by the Cannes Film Festival to compete in the official section in 2000. She was granted the Special Jury Award. The Blackboard received many international awards including the “Federico Fellini Honor Award” from UNESCO and “Francois Truffaut Award” from Italy. The film was widely released across the world and more than two hundred thousand people watched the film in France alone." 
Samira alongside other prominent director like Ken Loach, Shohei Imamura, Youssef Chahine, Sean Penn…. made one of the eleven episodes of the film “September 11”. The film was premiered at Venice International Film Festival in 2002.
The third feature by Samira Makhmalbaf titled “At Five in the Afternoon”, the first feature film shot in Afghanistan post Taliban. The film was selected for the competition section of Cannes Film Festival in 2003, receiving the Jury’s Special Award for the second time. In 2004, she was selected as one of forty best directors of the world by Guardian newspaper.
Samira Mohmalbaf has been the winner and nominee of numerous awards. She was nominated twice for Golden Palm of Cannes Film Festival for Panj é asr (At Five in the Afternoon) (2003) and Takhté siah (Blackboards) (2001). She won Prix du Jury of Cannes, for both films in 2003 and 2001 respectively. Samira Mohmalbaf also won UNESCO Award of Venice Film Festival in 2002 for 11.09.01 - September 11 and Sutherland Trophy of London Film Festival for The Apple in 1998. In 2003, a panel of critics at the British newspaper The Guardian named Makhmalbaf among the best 40 best directors at work today.
Since the Iranian Government did not give the permeation to shoot in Iran to her, Samira Makhmalbaf shot her last film in Afghanistan titled Two-Legged Horse in 2007. Her shooting in Afghanistan was disturbed by thrown of a bomb into her scene which resulted in severe injuries of 6 people. Despite all the difficulties she faced, Samira did not leave Afghanistan until she finished her film.
Samira Makhmalbaf has also participated as jury member in reputable film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Locarno, Moscow,and Montreal.
Personal life 
Mohsen Makhmalbaf married Fatemeh Meshkini, who gave birth to their three children – Samira (or Zeynab, born in 1980), Meysam (or Ayyoub, born in 1981), and Hana (or Khatereh, born in 1988). Mohsen Makhmalbaf says at an interview, “When I left the political organizations and moved into radio, Fatemeh came with me. I wrote programming and she became an announcer. When Samira was born, we’d take her with us to the radio station. We worked and she was always with one of us.
Fatemeh Meshkini died in a tragic accident in 1992. Makhmalbaf subsequently married Fatemeh Meshkini’s sister, Marziyeh Meshkini. She has been a great activist for women's right almost all her life. In an interview with The Guardian she says, "We have a lot of limitations, from all the written and unwritten law. But, still, I hope and I believe that it will get better. It has started with the democracy movement. But some things don't happen consciously. I wanted to make films, I made films to say something else, but in a way I became a kind of example. It was breaking some kind of cliche. Another new way of thinking started. Yes, we have a lot of limitations, but these limitations made a lot of strong, different kinds of women in Iran who, if they find a chance to express themselves, I'm sure have plenty of things to say. They may have found a deeper way through all these limitations."  In the same interview she talks about politics and says, "Even if I made that kind of direct movie talking about politics, it's nothing. Nothing, because it's just talking like a journalist. You are saying something superficial. The movies I make are deeper. This kind of work can live more, longer, deeper, compared to that kind of journalistic work."
"When Samira Makhmalbaf was a little girl growing up in Tehran, she lived in a house filled with talk of cinema. She remembers earwigging as her mother and father, the celebrated Iranian film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, discussed movies from dawn till dusk; she went with him on location, she watched him editing, she starred in his films. The world of film and film-making filled her every waking hour and excited every sense. Little wonder, then, that the daughter of this father is now making her own films. And to great international acclaim."
At Five in the Afternoon is the first feature film to made in a post-Taliban environment. She talks about her film to BBC, "I wanted to show reality, not the cliches on television saying that the US went to Afghanistan and rescued the people from the Taliban, that the US did a Rambo," said Makhmalbaf."Though the Taliban have gone, their ideas are anchored in peoples' minds, in their traditions and culture, there is still a big difference between men and women in Afghanistan." 
In an interview with BBC she talks about the difficulties that women directors face in Iran. "Traditionally, it is in the minds of everybody that a woman cannot be a film maker. It is therefore very much harder for a woman. Also, when you live in this kind of situation there is a danger that you can start to develop a similar mind-set and so the thing is to challenge this situation, and then slowly the situation will change also in the minds of others. I very much hope that in the advent of freedom and democracy Iran can produce many more women directors."
In an interview with Indiewire she is asked about the relationship between metaphor and reality her film Blackboards. She says, "The first image of the film starts with a very surreal image, but as you go into the film, you can feel the reality of being a fugitive. And I love this image very much and I think it can carry different meanings. It can express social, philosophic, and poetical meaning -- so many metaphors, and yet also, you can go into their reality. The idea for the film came out of my father's mind when I was looking for a subject to do for my next film. He gave me three or four pages and then it was time for me to imagine it. But I couldn't simply imagine it. How can I sit here in Cannes and think of people living in Kurdistan? So I had to go in it and be involved in it. So I cast the actors and found my locations, and at the same time, I let the reality of the situation come in. I don't want to kill the subject and put it in front of the camera and just shoot it as a dead subject. I let the reality come into imagination. I believe that metaphors are born from the imagination of the artist and the reality of life making love to each other. An example: Imagine more than a hundred old men want to go back to their country. This is imagination and reality. It's reality because there are some older generations that want to go back to their country to die. This is real. But just being old men is imagination. Or just being one woman is imagination. Or carrying these white boards is a combination of reality and imagination. Because maybe it's possible, if you're a refugee, if you're a teacher, what can you do except carry your blackboard and look for students? They are like street vendors, shouting, "Come, try to learn something!" In such a dire situation, everyone is poor, so nobody can learn anything. It is imagination, but it could exist." 
|2000||Blackboards||Director/Writer||won the Jury Prize at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival|
|2002||11 September (Short Film)||Director/Writer||(segment "God, Construction and Destruction")|
|2003||At Five in the Afternoon||Director/Writer/Cinematographer|
Awards and Nominations 
- “Sutherland Trophy”, London Film Festival 1998, UK.
- “International Critics prize”, Locarno Film Festival 1998, Switzerland.
- “Jury’s Special prize”, Thessalonica Film Festival 1998, Greece.
- “Jury’s Special prize”,São Paulo Film Festival 1998, Brazil.
- “Jury’s Special prize”, Independent cinema Festival 1999, Argentina.
- “Critic’s prize”, Independent cinema Festival 1999, Argentina.
- “Audience’s prize”, Independent cinema Festival 1999, Argentina.
- “Jury Special award”Official Competition section of the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, France.
- “Federico Fellini Medal”, UNESCO, Paris, 2000.
- “Francois Truffaut prize”, Giffoni Film Festival in Italy 2000.
- “Giffoni’s Mayor Prize “, Giffoni Film Festival, Italy, 2000.
- “Special cultural Prize”, UNESCO, Paris, 2000.
- “The grand Jury prize”, American Film Institute, U.S., 2000
- “Jury Special award”, Official Competition section of Cannes Film Festival 2003, France.
- Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Cannes 2003, France.
- Golden Peacock, competition (first prize) for Best film at the 34th International Film Festival of India 2003, India.
- The “Youths’ Cinema” Award in Singapore’s 17th International Silver Screen Film Festival 2004
- "The Special Jury Prize", San Sebastian Film Festival (2008)
Further reading 
- Persian cinema
- Women's Cinema
- Iranian women
- List of famous Persian women
- Persian women's movement
- Female Filmmakers
- Woman Screenwriters
- Official Website
- Dabashi, Hamid. Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, and Future. London: Verso, 2001. 263. Print
- Egan, Eric. The Films of Makhmalbaf: Cinema, Politics and Culture in Iran. Washington, DC: Mage, 2005. 174. Print.
- "22nd Moscow International Film Festival (2000)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- Bradshaw, Peter, Xan Brooks, Molly Haskell, Derek Malcolm, Andrew Pulver, B. Ru Rich, and Steve Rose. "The World's 40 Best Directors." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Nov. 2003. Web. 30 Apr. 2012
- Dabashi, Hamid. "On the Paradoxical Rise of a National Cinema and the Iconic Making of a Reel Filmmaker." Makhmalbaf at Large: The Making of a Rebel Filmmaker. London: I.B. Tauris, 2008. 4. Print
- Dabashi, Hamid. Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, and Future. London: Verso, 2001. 192. Print
- Weale, Sally. "Angry Young Woman." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 14 Dec. 2000. Web. 30 Apr. 2012
- "Afghan Plight Jolts Cannes." BBC News. BBC, 16 May 2003. Web. 30 Apr. 2012
- [Wood, David. "Blackboards: Peers and Working in Iran." BBC News. BBC. Web. 07 May 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/12/19/samira_makhmalbaf_part2_191200_interview.shtml>.]
- ["INTERVIEW: Samira Makhmalbaf Paints It "Blackboards"" Indiewire Home. Web. 07 May 2012. <http://www.indiewire.com/article/interview_samira_makhmalbaf_paints_it_blackboards>.]
- "Festival de Cannes: Blackboards". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
- http://www.makhmalbaf.com - Official homepage of the Makhmalbaf family of film-makers
- Samira Makhmalbaf at the Internet Movie Database