Kamran Shirdel - Social Documentaries


Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s film series

Part of the film series
Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s (November 2 - 22, 2013)

Kamran Shirdel - Social Documentaries
With English subtitles.

Screening introduced and followed by a Q&A with Hamid Naficy, Professor of Radio-Television-Film and the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Professor in Communication, Northwestern University, moderated by La Frances Hui, Asia Society Film Curator.

Watch the introduction and Q&A on video here

A foremost figure in Iranian sociopolitical documentary, Kamran Shirdel (1939- ) studied filmmaking at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Italy. Among his teachers were Roberto Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Vittorio De Sica. After returning to Iran, he made many documentaries focusing on the marginalized sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Art. But due to his revelations of the dark side of society at a time of seeming economic progress, Shirdel was expelled and exiled. Women’s Quarter and Tehran is the Capital of Iran had to be completed years later since materials were confiscated during production. Shirdel is the founder and director of the Kish International Documentary Film Festival.

Women's Prison
1965. Iran. 11 min. B/W. DVCAM.

In this Tehran jail, over two hundred women and girls are housed, convicted of crimes such as murder and drug addiction. Beyond depiction of peaceful literature and handicraft classes are desperate personal stories of women held behind bars.

Women's Quarter
1966-1980. Iran. 18 min. B/W. DVCAM.

Shot in the red-light district of Tehran, this film portrays the bleak existence of prostitutes. A text recited in a classroom about the progress the country has made is juxtaposed with candid interviews with prostitutes, who tell their stories of capture, escape, poverty, and daily struggles.

Tehran is the Capital of Iran
1966-1980. Iran. 18 min. B/W. DVCAM.

A text glorifying the Shah’s regime is set to ironic images of a poverty-stricken district in Tehran, populated by homeless people, blood sellers, and petit criminals.

The Night It Rained
1967. Iran. 35 min. B/W. DVCAM.

A village boy near the northern city of Gorgan is hailed in the media for heroically preventing a train’s derailment. Shirdel arrives in the village and unexpectedly hears opposing accounts of what happened. By presenting the different accounts, each serving the individual subject’s self-interest, Shirdel explores the possibility of truth.

Hamid Naficy is a leading authority on cinema and television in the Middle East, has produced many educational films and experimental videos and has published extensively. His many publications include such well-known titles as An Accented Cinema, The Making of Exile Cultures, Otherness and the Media: The Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged. Most recently, he has published A Social History of Iranian Cinema, in four volumes available from Duke University Press. 


This film series is organized in conjunction with the Iran Modern exhibition, on view through January 5, 2014. Public programs held in conjunction with Iran Modern are made possible by support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art through Asia Society’s ongoing initiative Creative Voices of Muslim Asia. Additional support for Iran Modern programming is provided by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, WLS Spencer Foundation and the American Institute of Iranian Studies.

Event Details

Wed 20 Nov 2013
6:30 - 8 p.m.
725 Park Avenue (at East 70 Street), New York, NY
Online ticketing is now closed for this program. Tickets are available for walk-in purchase. $8 members; $10 students/seniors; $12 nonmembers.
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