Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s (Film Series)

November 2-22, 2013

Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

This film series features rarely screened films of the Iranian New Wave, an exceptional film movement that took place before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. During the cosmopolitan and yet turbulent period of the 1960s-1970s, an auteur cinema emerged and responded actively to the cultural, political, and social conditions of the time. Iranian New Wave is distinguished by its philosophical inclination, social critique, poetic disposition, and vigorous experimentation. This innovative spirit resonated with new cinematic trends sweeping across the globe at the time, from France and Czechoslovakia to Brazil and Japan. Collectively, the films present the artistic vision, humanism, and social consciousness of a generation of Iranian filmmakers. These films have left an important legacy and laid the groundwork for later generations. This series offers an extraordinary opportunity to survey these works and provides a window into Iranian life during this period. A documentary film about the Iranian New Wave is included in the selection.

Tickets: $8 members; $10 students/seniors; $12 nonmembers
Series discount (in-person or by phone only): Buy at least four tickets for at least four "separate" programs in this series in one transaction to get $1.00 off each ticket.

All films with English subtitles. Click on individual programs for tickets and more information.

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.

Interview with series curator La Frances Hui


Program 1:
The Cow
Dariush Mehrjui. 1969. Iran. 100 min. B/W.

Saturday, November 2, 2013, 6:00 pm

Mash Hasan (Ezzatolah Entezami) is the owner of the only and much treasured cow in his impoverished village. One day while he is away, his beloved cow is mysteriously killed. Afraid to hurt Mash Hasan's feelings, fellow villagers tell him the cow has run away. Distraught, Mash Hasan descends into madness and assumes the identity of the cow, as the village deals with a collective psychological breakdown. Although funded by the state, the film was banned for a year due to the unabashed depiction of poverty in the countryside — a stark contrast to the image of modernization promoted during the Shah's reign. The film was smuggled to the 1971 Venice Film Festival where it received the Critics' Award.


Program 2:
The Lost Cinema
Jamsheed Akrami.
2007. USA. 100 min. Color & B/W.
Friday, November 8, 2013, 6:30 pm

This illuminating documentary examines the background and significance of the Iranian New Wave. An artistic and political awakening gave birth to films that rejected uninspiring mainstream offerings and dominating foreign imports led by Hollywood. Made by Jamsheed Akrami, filmmaker/critic/scholar, the documentary sheds light on the political messages these films carry, and the reasons why many were banned pre- and post-revolution and continue to be inaccessible in Iran even today. Included are in-depth analyses of films such as The Cow (1969), Dead End (1977), and Tall Shadows of the Wind (1979), accompanied by insightful filmmaker and expert interviews. Followed by director Q&A, moderated by Negar Mottahedeh, Associate Professor of Literature and Women's Studies, Duke University. 


Program 3:
Dead End
Parviz Sayyad. 1977
. Iran. 95 min. Color.
Saturday, November 9, 2013, 6:00 pm

A young woman (Mary Apik) lives on a dead end street with her family. A mysterious man has been following her. Who is he? Is he a secret admirer or someone who is plotting harm? While the young woman draws up romantic fantasies, fear sets in as the man’s omnipresence alludes to the pervasive surveillance carried out by the secret police force, SAVAK, set up by the Shah's regime. Due to the film’s underlying political theme and the portrayal of female subjectivity, it became banned by both regimes pre- and post-revolution and continue to be inaccessible in Iran even today. Although never shown in Iran, the film won actress Mary Apik the Best Actress Award at the Moscow Film Festival. Followed by director Q&A, moderated by Jamsheed Akrami, director of The Lost Cinema and Professor of Media Studies and Production, William Paterson University.


Program 4:
Tall Shadows of the Wind
Bahman Farmanara. 1979. Iran. 109 min. Color.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 6:30 pm

Based on a short story by Houshang Golshiri, who also collaborated with director Bahman Farmanara on his breakout feature Prince Ehtejab (1974), this film centers on mysterious and chilling events that take place in a village. A group of superstitious inhabitants have erected a scarecrow for protection but soon find themselves terrorized by it. Made at the end of the Shah’s reign, the film offers a metaphorical reflection on power relations—how people create their own idols who turn around to terrorize them. The film’s alleged political message was found so dangerous that it was banned both pre- and post-revolution. The film was presented to great acclaim in Cannes Film Festival’s Critics' Week section. 


Program 5:
Bahram Beyzaie.
1972. Iran. 128 min. B/W.
Friday, November 15, 2013, 6:30 pm

A teacher has been transferred to a school in a poor and conservative district. He encounters the beautiful sister of a student and develops feelings for her. Although this young woman is intrigued by his attention, she is already engaged to a local butcher. In this small community where social codes are strictly followed, gossip about the two soon start to spread. Suddenly this modern intellectual finds himself under bizarre surveillance. This feature debut evokes French New Wave for its youthful impulse and Italian Neorealism for its realistic portrayal of local life. (Restored by the World Cinema Foundation at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/ L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2011. Funding provided by Doha Film Institute.)


Program 6: (Four short documentaries screened in one program)
Kamran Shirdel - Social Documentaries
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 6:30 pm

A foremost figure in Iranian sociopolitical documentary, Kamran Shirdel studied filmmaking in Italy, with teachers including Roberto Rossellini and Michelangelo Antonioni. 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. 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


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

In this Tehran jail, over 200 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. 18 min. B/W.

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.

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.

A village boy  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.


Program 7:
The Traveler
Abbas Kiarostami. 1974. Iran. 74 min. B/W.
Friday, November 22, 2013, 6:30 pm

A young boy in a provincial town is a diehard soccer fan. He steals, scams, lies, and skips school in order to gather enough money for an overnight bus trip to Tehran to watch his favorite team play. At times comical, the film is infused with poignancy as the camera lingers on this tough and yet vulnerable boy with deep affection. This self-assured work is an early testament to the brilliance of director Abbas Kiarostami, who is acclaimed for his affecting portrayal of children and philosophical study of human behavior. His celebrated works include Close Up (1990), Life, and Nothing More… (1992), and Certified Copy (2010).


This film series is curated by La Frances Hui.

Interns: Daisy Yiwen Cai, Hsin-Yuan Peng, Nai-Yun Peng, Jane Jingyu Shi, Bahar Pour Tabatabaei

Special Thanks: Carmen Accaputo (Cineteca di Bologna Archivio Film), Jamsheed Akrami, Dominick Balletta, Cassie Blake (Academy Film Archive), Isa Cucinotta, Nasrine Médard de Chardon (Dreamlab Films), Bahman Farmanara, Nima Farmanara, Sepideh Khosrowjah, Simon Lund, Fereidoun Mahboubi (Archives françaises du film du CNC), Paul Marchant (First Run Features), Negar Mottahedeh, Massoud Nader, Hamid Naficy, Mona Nagai (Pacific Film Archive), Eric Nyari, Parviz Sayyad, Levi Wenrich, Scott Wenrich, Todd Wiener (UCLA Film & Television Archive).