The Sociopolitical Documentaries of Iranian Filmmaker Kamran Shirdel

Deciphered by film scholar Hamid Naficy

NEW YORK, November 20, 2013 — Asia Society's film series Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s continued with a screening of four documentary shorts (Women's Prison, 1965; Women's Quarter, 1966-80; Tehran is the Capital of Iran, 1966-80; The Night It Rained, 1967) by Kamran Shirdel (1939- ), a leading figure in Iranian sociopolitical documentary. Hamid Naficy, author of the four-volume A Social History of Iranian Cinema (Duke University Press) and the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Professor in Communication at Northwestern University, introduced the four films in the screening and later sat down with Asia Society Film Curator La Frances Hui for a Q & A session (videos below).

Shirdel studied filmmaking at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Italy. After returning to Iran, he made some documentaries sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Art. Focusing on the marginalized, Shirdel’s films ingeniously juxtapose official ideology with stark realities of poverty, suffering, and delusion. His revelations of the dark side of society at a time of seeming economic progress led to his being expelled by the Ministry. Many of his films were banned before the Islamic Revolution. Shirdel later became the founder and director of the Kish International Documentary Film Festival in Iran.

Video 1: Hamid Naficy introduces Kamran Shirdel's work (19 min., 24 sec.)

Video 2: Post-screening Q & A with Hamid Naficy and La Frances Hui (40 min., 17 sec.)

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