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February 13, 2004

 Art 
By the Way, My favourite director is Luis Bunuel!
Mehrad Vaezinejad  [info|posts]

bunuel1.jpg
They ruined the country, fair! But if somebody asks me to name one good thing Islamic Republic has done for us, I'll definitely go for post-revolution Iranian Cinema. You may laugh, I don't care. Keeping the Hollywood crap out of movie theatres for more than twenty years is indeed a great job. It's some time now, however, that crap copies of the original crap can be consumed by its Tehrani lovers practically the same day its Londoner lovers queue in West End cinemas to watch the premiere. Yet, one has to admit that the clerics have done their best and there has been nothing more they could do about the inevitable invasion of craps. With this great effort, unintentionally, they have served Iranian Filmmaking Industry!

Iran is a country with nearly all sorts of resource, be it human or natural. Yet, Iran is virtually a 'nation without production'—in global level I mean. It is better not to talk about industry or technology; in terms of arts and humanities, though, the only branch worth noting might be the moving image. It is true that even this cultural production can not find considerable audience across the globe, but at least, this is a case Iranians are not alone in. European productions are not able to get enough room even in their very own country of origin. So, finding enough Iranian movies to watch once a month (and I’m not saying that they are necessarily good movies), when you live in a western capital with absolutely no sign of your own country, is indeed a great achievement for Islamic Republic and its aspirations to export 'The Revolution.'

Officially, there are around sixty to seventy movies made in Iran each year. Of these, a considerable proportion is honestly not worth talking about. Specifically in recent years, with a bit of freedom to exploit male-female relations, more and more directors are joining the stream to make wishy-washy love stories. Another few movies, each year, are made about the Iran-Iraq war and the 'Eight Year Holy Defence.' Unfortunately, not only these fail to show the reality of war, but also their total sacrifice propaganda has left most of Iranians alienated. However, among these, one could find outstanding features such as Bahram Beyzayi’s Bashu (1989) which becomes more appreciable regarding the time it was made. Apart from recent love stories, the war movies, and very few comedies made in the years after the revolution, there remains two more group of films and filmmakers.

First, there are the so called 'social movies.' Among these, are some of the most interesting works on the grounds that they manage to show deficiencies or even to provide serious criticism without passing the –often too tight- red lines of the Islamic Republic. Rather old example can be 'Nargess' (1992) by Rakhshan Bani-etemad which amazingly illustrates a prostitute in Tehran without framing any human body except for the main actress' face. 'I am Taraneh, I am fifteen years old' (2002) by Rasul Sadr-Ameli is yet another newer example in which the teenage pregnancy and single parenthood is the main theme.

Second and maybe the most significant, at least in terms of overseas achievements, are the films directed by the so called Iranian 'artistic-makers' with their pioneer Abbas Kiarostami or the recently activist and ex-director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. They often have a more 'personal' cinema in which a momentary concern or a life-time ethics or phylosophical question might ultimately turn into a single-crew digitally made movie. This group of filmmakers had received almost every prestigious prize in every prestigious festival throughout the world. I have to mention, although I don't like her and I'm resisting the temptation... No it's not fair, I have to name her here. OK! Samira Makhamalbaf is the last phenomenon in this category who won her first international award as a teenager for 'The Apple' (2000) and pushed her way into major festivals' juries at the age of twenty. No need to say of course, no Iranian had still become honoured by the 'statue-goes-to… award.'

Definitely, by no means, to hell I swear, be sure, I admit wholeheartedly, please don't be misunderstood, would you please just let me finish, I'm not saying that winning the Palm d’Or is something to be proud of, yet, as I said before, for a nation without production, these achievements had been unique in every possible way. And in this, I say, we should be for once grateful of the revolution which unconsciously preserved for us something to be named the 'National Cinema'. How we like or dislike this cinema is yet another story.

P.S. You can check for more info on any of the movies mentioned above in the Internet Movie DataBase.

Comments
AmericanWoman at February 13, 2004 09:52 PM [permalink]:

Dear Mehrad,
Thank you! This post is like wind coming in from the ocean. I haven't seen many Iranian movies, but one that I have seen quite a few times, and could see a few more is "Hiroshima, Mon Amour." Its like a puzzle I can't quite solve. Also, a Turkish film called "Yol." It is a great story about a group of friends on furlough from Prison. As they each travel to their homes in different parts of the country, the author tries to create a composite of life under the various stresses of religion, demands of family, confusion from the clash of modernity and tradition, the government/red tape, and so forth. For example, one of the guys, a Kurd, goes home and starts to fall in love during some kind of attack, but his older brother is killed during the shootout, so he inherits his wife and kids. I think the director is making a statement that there is no more freedom out than in prison.
Anyway, the women's clothes are great, and there is a lot of comedy (for a fairly depressing theme) there is a scene where a bus stops and 3 little shaved-head boys get on and start singing for money. Man, they are belting that song out! And according to the sub-titles, it is a passionate love song. These kids can't be more than 8 or 9. C'est bien charmant.

Vahid at February 14, 2004 12:00 AM [permalink]:

Iran was known for Persian carpet, but I geuss it is not that unique anymore, a lot of other countries now make carpets, and with good planing in industry they have achieved better prices and ...
So as you mentioned Iranian Cinema might one of the very few things, that Iran is known for these days.
The dominant of Hollywood is so terrible. I love canadian movies but you do not get to see them in most canadian cinema's there are just a few cinema's that screen them for a very short time. Also there are very few European movies that get here. The film festivals are great, you get to see a lot of good movies from so many different countries.
The other day I saw an Irish movie called "In america". I liked it very much. I recommen it to all the movie lovers.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at February 14, 2004 01:06 AM [permalink]:

"They ruined the country, fair! But if somebody asks me to name one good thing Islamic Republic has done for us, I’ll definitely go for post-revolution Iranian Cinema."
...
(ehem) are we talking about the same Mullahs who wanted to close the evil western satanic phenomenon of cinematography?
or the mullahs who set a cinema on fire with all the people inside and locked the door? which one are we talking about here?
...
"Keeping the Hollywood crap out of movie theatres for more than twenty years is indeed a great job. "
...
"one has to admit that the clerics have done their best and there has been nothing more they could do about the inevitable invasion of craps. "

Buddy, you really, I mean REALLY need to get your head fixed. Been to a psychateris lately? might do you some good.

hossein at February 14, 2004 01:11 AM [permalink]:

I was hopping the same thing to happen for Iranian music, after Shajarian and pals win their Grammy award this year, which didn't happen.

The fact is that revolution killed any other kind of music and even didn't let traditional music grow better. Considering the traditional nature of Iranian music itself and kind of people who practice it, it really doesn't have too much to grow. But before the revolution programs like "Gol-haaye Taaze" on Radio, were a place for new talents to start their career and sometimes start new ways of playing the music.

Now, after many years, the way Alizadeh has pioneered and Shajarian is pursuing in the their new albums "Zemestan", "Without You" and "Faryad", can start a new age in Iranian traditional music. In my experience, many of people I know to whom I've lent "Without You", connect with the music, and with some publicity (like winning a major western award) it can become one of the top five most famous Persian entities in the world.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at February 14, 2004 01:53 AM [permalink]:

Here is a fantastic article about the US, why it is such a great country and exactly what is so great about it.
Democratic Realism

Read especially the part about 'Isolationism'. Since we are under a new wave of Wessie-attack now, it might do us all good to see what it is that Wessie is a caricature of.

But continue to read to why 'neoconservatism' or
as the author calls it by a better and more becoming term 'Democratic Globalism' is the only rational policy the US can undertake and why it is ultimately in the benefit of all of us. I have hardly seen this explained batter than in the above article.

PS. I posted part of this comment on the other article, but it was under a pile of mainly unnerving 'comments' so probably many would't have read it. Here the comment section is just begone. So after all the irrelevancies that we have been witnessing lately, please forgive this small one as well.

Saeed S at February 14, 2004 07:16 AM [permalink]:

I think "pain" (=acute mental or emotional distress or suffering) always makes great artists. Just look how many great Russian artists Soviet Regime gave birth to.

wessie at February 14, 2004 07:22 AM [permalink]:

Nice, Mehrad! I suggested that "someone" write something besides politics to the editors. Perhaps you got the e-mail? LOL

"Buddy, you really, I mean REALLY need to get your head fixed. Been to a psychateris [sic] lately? might do you some good."

Whoa! Glad I didn't say that. LOL I guess it's OK though, if you say it, AIS. Then it's not an insult. ;-)

And thanks for the spam! Here is some of my own.

AIS—thanks for your insult(s). Even you are typical. You demand civility but spew insults. And you post irrelevancies and spam, even while complaining about same. Oh well, what can one expect given your heritage of denial, blame and not having accomplished anything for hundreds of years. You got the article from an LGF link. I trust that you read some of the over-the-tip comments there. By their standards my positions are rather benign. Many there want to nuke Mecca not isolate it.

I don't believe in isolationism. But, Islam could use a dose of standing in the corner for a while. I don't want to isolate the U.S. from humanity. I want to isolate Islam from civilization. However, it is already doing that itself—with your help.

Hey, like I said. It's NOT our problem—it's YOUR problem! The war on terror as it is currently being conducted is not sustainable. Just wait and see the changes that will come about from the U.S. government regardless of whether Bush is reelected or not.

As Krauthammer states: "we are unlike Rome, unlike Britain and France and Spain and the other classical empires of modern times, in that we do not hunger for territory. . .

. . . .In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile crisis, we came to the edge of the abyss. Then, accompanied by our equally shaken adversary, we both deliberately drew back. On September 11, 2001, we saw the face of Armageddon again, but this time with an enemy that does not draw back. This time the enemy knows no reason.

Were that the only difference between now and then, our situation would be hopeless. But there is a second difference between now and then: the uniqueness of our power, unrivaled, not just today but ever. That evens the odds. The rationality of the enemy is something beyond our control. But the use of our power is within our control. And if that power is used wisely, constrained not by illusions and fictions but only by the limits of our mission--which is to bring a modicum of freedom as an antidote to nihilism--we can, and will, prevail."

---

It would really, really be smart if some of you Persian princes here would work on getting rid of your nihilism and helping to free your nations from the yoke of ignorant Islam! Because you are the elite of your cultures. The great unwashed of your nations are not going to save humanity from the Monster that YOU have created. See to it! Or the wise use, and stark reality of American power will surely come down on your heads like a ton of bricks. And not only will Americans agree to do it—but the whole world will get in line to take a shot at barbarous, backward Islam and the irresponsible people who make it tick.

As Putin recently said, after yet another barbarous, Islamic terror attack: "We don't negotiate with terrorists, we eliminate them!"

Those who of you do nothing (and go to the movies instead) are culpable for the crimes of the terrorists!

---

Go make a movie instead of seeing one!

Wessie

Tinab at February 14, 2004 04:21 PM [permalink]:

hossein, you wrote:

"Considering the traditional nature of Iranian music itself and kind of people who practice it, it really doesn't have too much to grow."

What is wrong with people who practice Iranian music? And on what basis do you say that Iranian music cannot grow because of the people who practice it? I agree that traditional Iranian music has been growing very slowly, but it is strange to me that you attribute this to Iranian musicians.

Mamdali at February 14, 2004 04:30 PM [permalink]:

I liked your post and agree that intentionally or unintentionally the Islamic government helped the conceptual progress in Iranian cinema but somehow you brushed aside the fact that some of the foreign achievements of the Iranian cinema owe the political or social oppressions in Iran. On one hand, one may say that it’s actually the duty of cinema to bring issues like poverty, oppression, women rights etc on the screen and appreciate those movies like “Circle” and “The Children of Heaven”. But on the other hand one may have the feeling that sometimes filmmakers go further and exaggerate and even abuse the current social injustices to “sex up” her/his movie and make an intellectual out of herself in front of European jury.

There is also another way of regarding the problem: making movie on social issue about Iranian society is very tricky and whenever somebody wants to address some issue and then add some fiction to it, in the end people consider his movie as a sheer documentary and blame him why he didn’t show the reality.

I don’t know! What I know is that one shouldn’t (or can not) tell a cineaste what to make but instead the system should have flexibility and be able to give possibility to every potential cineaste realize his/her point of view thereby generate a wider spectrum of idea for the Iranian and foreign spectators.

ps. Baba! find some pics for your posts! If you really can't find any, I'll do it for you ;-)

ps'. by the way, have you seen bunuel's documentary about the poverty in a village in Spain, the title was "Las Hurdas" or sometihng like that. I bet it was really a daring movie at that time. However I should also add that documentray cinema has improved alot :-)

Mehrad at February 14, 2004 05:27 PM [permalink]:

Dear mamdali,
I agree that most recently Iranian directors often aim for certain prizes and thats a pity. BTW, I like your other "way of regarding the problem." I should have addressed more features of Iranian cinema had it not been for lack of time. This is only an introduction with a single approach.

And 'Les Hurdes'is indeed a great documentary. I shall say one of the best ever, if you consider it was made in early 1930s in Spain.


p.s. I'd be very glad if you (or anybody else) add pics to my posts.

Wessie at February 14, 2004 07:39 PM [permalink]:

"On one hand, one may say that it’s actually the duty of cinema to bring issues like poverty, oppression, women rights etc on the screen and appreciate those movies like “Circle” and “The Children of Heaven”. But on the other hand one may have the feeling that sometimes filmmakers go further and exaggerate and even abuse the current social injustices to “sex up” her/his movie and make an intellectual out of herself in front of European jury."

Do you suppose they "sexed up "—the Afghan movie about a young girl who disguises herself as a boy:

Osama: http://www.thezreview.co.uk/comingsoon/o/osama.htme


Here, according to the NY Times are a few things happening today in Muslim Afghanistan. I guess these are not true then, Mamdali— All Western lies to get a prize?


• A 16-year-old girl fled her 85-year-old husband, who married her when she was 9. She was caught and recently sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment.

• The Afghan Supreme Court has recently banned female singers from appearing on Afghan television, barred married women from attending high school classes and ordered restrictions on the hours when women can travel without a male relative.

• When a man was accused of murder recently, his relatives were obliged to settle the blood debt by handing over two girls, ages 8 and 15, to marry men in the victim's family.

• A woman in Afghanistan now dies in childbirth every 20 minutes, usually without access to even a nurse. A U.N. survey in 2002 found that maternal mortality in the Badakshan region was the highest ever recorded anywhere on earth: a woman there has a 50 percent chance of dying during one of her eight pregnancies.

• In Herat, a major city, women who are found with an unrelated man are detained and subjected to a forced gynecological exam. At last count, according to Human Rights Watch, 10 of these "virginity tests" were being conducted daily.

"Many women and girls are essentially prisoners in their own homes," Human Rights Watch declared. And Amnesty International quoted an aid worker as saying: "During the Taliban era, if a woman went to market and showed an inch of flesh, she would have been flogged. Now she's raped."

Change in Afghanistan was never going to come overnight. Honor killings of girls and forced early marriages are deeply ingrained. An Afghan proverb says, "A girl should have her first period in her husband's house and not her father's house."

-----------

Islam is so just, so inherently fair. ;-)


Señor Græd at February 14, 2004 08:07 PM [permalink]:

A comment and a suggestion.

Comment: The movie Nargess is not about the life of a "prostitute". Nargess is a thief. The movie is about a so-called "love triangle": Nargess who has found, protected, and fallen in love with the guy, who is brought up to be her lover and ally in their robberies, and a young girl who the guy (the names of these two escape me at the moment) runs into by accident and finds a good catch for marriage. The illicit relationship between the guy and Nargess is not approved by the society, but that doesn't make Nargess a hooker.

Subcomment: There's been statistics about the staggering rate of "prostitution" in Iran. In our common langauge, it must be noted, any girl who steps outside the narrow limits of conventional sexual behavior is called by the J word, which means "prostitute". A prostitute, I believe, is someone who sleeps with men, usually not of her choice, for money. This does not even include the wife in a temporary marriage! So what people in Iran call "prostitution", our non-Iranian readers must note, is not exactly what the word means in English.

Suggestion: I googled Bunuel's name to find a picture for your post, Mehrad. In light of recent events, I think the following is a good choice: http://deceyec.ife.org.mx/images/t_lugar.jpg :-)

Or how about this one? http://kybele.psych.cornell.edu/~edelman/Cog-531-Spring-2003/Bunuel-phantomofliberty.jpg

Señor Græd at February 14, 2004 08:11 PM [permalink]:

Oops. The name of the thief is Afagh. Nargess is the name of the girl. (It must've been a while since I watched the movie!) The guy's name is Adel. Rakhshan Bani-Etemad is simply great. :-)

Señor Græd at February 14, 2004 08:30 PM [permalink]:

Sorry about over-commenting. I just remembered that the English-speaking folks have as many different words for DOZDI as Eskimos are reputed to have for snow! Larceny, Burglary, Robbery, for example to name a few. By "robbery" in my comment above I simply meant all sorts of "theft". :->

Mamdali at February 14, 2004 08:42 PM [permalink]:

Dear Mehrad,
It’s not a critique on your post, a holistic approach needs more time and energy. BTW I just wanted to mention another category of the movies like “Glassy Agency” or “Leyli with me ast” which deal with issues that are not at all familiar to non-Iranian audiences yet Iranians confront frequently in their everyday lives. These movies can never be suitable for the international film festivals.

jooon.

Senior Grad at February 14, 2004 09:06 PM [permalink]:

• A 16-year-old girl fled her 85-year-old husband, who married her when she was 9. She was caught and recently sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment.

Imprisonment is indeed much better than having to spend her nights with a bearded geezer in a land where presumably there's no Viagra yet.

• The Afghan Supreme Court has recently banned female singers from appearing on Afghan television, barred married women from attending high school classes and ordered restrictions on the hours when women can travel without a male relative.

So, female singers were allowed to sing for a period of time after Afghanistan's "liberation". Good for them. In Iran no female singer has been allowed to sing ever since the 1979 revolution.

In Iran, too, girls must quit regular highschool and go to adults' school [AKAABER] instead as soon as they get married, because otherwise all the girls would gather around the bride in order to find out how it feels to "do it" with a man and how male organs exactly work and so on and so forth. :-) This kind of information would of course "corrupt" the minds of the virgins.

The reason for restrictions on hours is obvious: Safety measures.

• When a man was accused of murder recently, his relatives were obliged to settle the blood debt by handing over two girls, ages 8 and 15, to marry men in the victim's family.

A tribal society, you see. Perhaps a better solution than the "an eye for an eye" rule?

• A woman in Afghanistan now dies in childbirth every 20 minutes, usually without access to even a nurse. A U.N. survey in 2002 found that maternal mortality in the Badakshan region was the highest ever recorded anywhere on earth: a woman there has a 50 percent chance of dying during one of her eight pregnancies.

It's Islam's fault, of course. Or U.N.'s? Hmmm!

• In Herat, a major city, women who are found with an unrelated man are detained and subjected to a forced gynecological exam. At last count, according to Human Rights Watch, 10 of these "virginity tests" were being conducted daily.

This is incidentally somewhat related to "I am Taraneh, 15." mentioned by Mehrad. Fornication is a sin and is deemed punishable by Islamic law.

An Afghan proverb says, "A girl should have her first period in her husband's house and not her father's house."

Correction: It's (the twisted version of) a hadith attributed to the Prophet and not an Afghan proverb: Lucky is the man whose daughter doesn't see blood (*that* kind of blood, you know) in his house.

Please transfer all of this comment to "Free Thoughts on Afghanistan".

Wessie at February 14, 2004 09:22 PM [permalink]:

"Imprisonment is indeed much better than having to spend her nights with a bearded geezer in a land where presumably there's no Viagra yet."

There is lots of Viagra in the Muslim, sex obsessed world. Too bad much of it is counterfeit. But, that does not keep "believers" from raping women.

". . . In Iran no female singer has been allowed to sing ever since the 1979 revolution."

YOUR fault! Go FIX it!

"The reason for restrictions on hours is obvious: Safety measures"

With all those "safety measures" why are they breeding like rabbits?

"A tribal society, you see. Perhaps a better solution than the "an eye for an eye" rule?"

Oh, yeah, they really ENFORCE "an eye for an eye" in all Christian and Jewish lands. So many blind people. . .

"It's Islam's fault, of course. Or U.N.'s? Hmmm!"

Of course. It is somebody's fault! Can't possibly be the fault of an Islamic society. Never mind that the U.N. is in many places—where they don't murder U.N. reps.

"This is incidentally somewhat related to "I am Taraneh, 15." mentioned by Mehrad. Fornication is a sin and is deemed punishable by Islamic law."

In the West we consider it a blessing. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE—Love is all you need. The Beatles ;-)

"Correction: It's (the twisted version of) a hadith attributed to the Prophet and not an Afghan proverb: Lucky is the man whose daughter doesn't see blood (*that* kind of blood, you know) in his house."

What hypocrisy to disdain that which brought you into the world.


"Please transfer all of this comment to "Free Thoughts on Afghanistan"."

Including ALL of your irrelevant ones of course, Senior. LOL

Azad at February 14, 2004 09:42 PM [permalink]:

As far as pics for your post, I’ll personally prefer some thing relevant to the subject. Like:
http://store2.yimg.com/I/eworldrecords_1775_33984297

Señor Græd at February 14, 2004 09:53 PM [permalink]:

Not a bad choice, Azad. That's my favorite!

P.S. I was joking about the Buñuel-related (?) pictures in my suggestion.

P.S.S. I happen to have seen Buñuel's documentary and I think it falls in the category of HONAR E MOTE'AHHED (As opposed to "art for the sake of art")!

hossein at February 14, 2004 10:19 PM [permalink]:

I meant no offence. I love Iranian music.
When Many years ago, these guys (Shajarian, Lotfi, Alizadeh, Meshkatian and many others) started their careers, Noorali Boroumand as their teacher, gave a new life to Iranian music (compare the way Meshkatian plays Santoor, and the way Payvar does).
Now after many years that most of Iranian tradition musicians haven't tried something new, Alizadeh has introduced his way: mixing different Dastgahs and making a Magham from old body of Iranian music (Dad-o-Bidad is his most famous Magham).

By saying "kind of people who practice it" I was trying to say that there is an old school way of playing Iranian music which is not happy with changes in the music. My bad wording!

Richard Bean at February 14, 2004 10:51 PM [permalink]:

Thankyou for your thoughts Mehrad. I remember going to the showing of "Deep Breath" at the London Film Festival which the director was at and it was packed with Iranians... they wanted to stay in touch with popular films in their country.

...one could find outstanding features such as Bahram Beyzayi’s Bashu (1989) which becomes more appreciable regarding the time it was made.

You could point out that it was made in 1985 during the war and not shown until the 7th Fajr Festival in Feb 1989, because it was considered to be an anti-war movie.

The article didn't really compare post-revolutionary with pre-revolutionary cinema. Combining that with Hossein's thought about the revolution killing music, are there any films after the revolution which have memorable songs like Soltan-e Ghalbha or Mashdi Ebad?

(soltan-e ghalbam to hasti to hasti, darvazehaye delam ra shekasti... I don't know any Turkish, I'm sure Mashdi Ebad is just as memorable for Turkish speakers.)

I also like Iranian films because they are so unHollywood. There is a contrasting view, the author thinks the praise lavished on Iranian films is given uncritically. (I remembered this article because it mentioned "The Glass Agency" as a film not designed for export, but which created debate in Iran. It was from iranian.com, so I couldn't find it with google but someone else had copied it.)

My last thought is that if any of the readers of this are in Tehran one day, I encourage you to visit the Film Museum of Iran near Tajrish, it is very carefully constructed and well-presented - a walk through history. Most of the time, you get your own personal guide to chat to for 1/2 an hour at less than $US1.20!!

Azad at February 14, 2004 10:54 PM [permalink]:

Speaking about FToA,I came across the role of Iranian director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, in Osama 's production plus his other activities:

"Foreign finance was crucial to Osama 's production, with a significant proportion of the initial funds and most of the technical support coming from Iran (alongside Japanese and Irish co-producers). Key to raising this was Mohsen Makhmalbaf, whose concern for the Afghan people has spread far beyond film-making. Soon after shooting Kandahar on the borders of Afghanistan in 2000 Makhmalbaf turned his attention to the plight of uneducated Afghan refugees in Iran and directed the documentary The Afghan Alphabet on the subject. He also founded the Afghan Children Education Movement (ACEM), originally dedicated to addressing the lack of education available to the 1.5 million Afghan refugees banned from attending Iranian schools. In an open letter to Iran's President Khatami in mid 2001 Makhmalbaf offered to use ACEM to attract money from foreign sources to improve Iran's schools if Khatami would allow Afghan refugees into the classrooms. Khatami agreed and Makhmalbaf secured initial financial support from UNESCO and lobbied for donations through television and newspaper appeals."
Link:
http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/2004_02/osama.php
Sorry Mehrad if it is not very related to your post!

Señor Græd at February 14, 2004 11:36 PM [permalink]:

I'm not sure how "off subject" this is, but regarding the previous comment by Azad, I find Makhmalbaf's concern for the Afghans admirable (enjoyed his Kandahar a lot), but unfortunately our genius film-maker (no sarcasm intended here) lacks what I would refer to, for want of a better term, "education". In any case, Makhmalbaf is another instance of HONARMAND E MOTE'AHHED and IMO he has a "purity" that many more educated among us don't have.

Also, regarding the much acclaimed Osama, isn't the idea of an Afghan girl pretending to be a boy "borrowed" from the Iranian movie Baran?!

http://www.offoffoff.com/film/2001/baran.php3

Richard Bean at February 14, 2004 11:54 PM [permalink]:

Mamdali goft:

“Glassy Agency” or “Leyli with me ast” ... can never be suitable for the international film festivals.

(I browse through my copy of "20 years of Fajr Film Festivals in Retrospect" obtained from the Film Museum of Iran. I start googling, inspired by the example of Senor Google.)

Glass agency, 16th Fajr International Film Festival, Feb 1998; 49th Berlin International Film Festival, March 1999.

Leili is with me, 14th Fajr International Film Festival, Feb 1996; 1996 Hawaii International Film Festival; 1997 Montreal World Film Festival; 1996 Fukuoka International Film Festival; and the famous appreciator of Iranian film, Richard Bean, bought the VCD from Mehrabad Airport in October last year, after it was recommended to him by one of his English students. :-)

It seems some international film festivals will give anything a go. I do understand your point though, they weren't promoted as heavily as films about blind children, shoes, carpets etc. I think what you mean is they can never get a showing even in any arthouse cinema in the West, because they're not "interesting" to many people there.

Mehrad at February 15, 2004 06:51 AM [permalink]:

Dear Senior Grad and Azad,

Thanks a lot for your suggestions, yet, if you look at my previous comment again, mine is not a problem of finding the proper image, but lack of knowledge to ADD it to my post.

Mehrad at February 15, 2004 06:53 AM [permalink]:

Dear Mamdali,

mikhaamet...

Señor Græd at February 16, 2004 03:24 PM [permalink]:

My favorite war movie is "From Karkheh to Rein". Perhaps thanks to Entezami's music, or maybe because parts of it was filmed in Khaarej. ;-)

My second favorite war movie is "The Wedding of the Blessed" by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the genius.

Señor Græd at February 16, 2004 03:30 PM [permalink]:

I don't remember the Master having made any "war movies", but in ones of his great films, "Close-Up", Sabzian, the Makhmalbaf's impersonator, comes across as a war veteran type; a Basiji of sorts.

I have to see Bashu again (it's been a while), but Beyzaee's movies in general, IMHO, are very "theatrical" is you know what I mean.

Wessie at February 16, 2004 08:33 PM [permalink]:

Interesting that you would like war movies.

AmericanWoman at February 17, 2004 01:38 AM [permalink]:

AIS:
Just want you to know I read the speech at your Democratic Realism link. It is something to think about, but I'm not sure it can be taken completely at face value. It is true that the US will not go to war to gain territory, but I don't think it is unreasonable to wonder if vested interests in resources like oil, and the industrio-military complex in general don't fan the propaganda flames and drive the machine. You have to talk the talk of virtue vs vice, but if that were the only issue, why weren't we in Soweto, why aren't we in Timur, or Cambodia? Moral indignation moves the people, but who feeds the media, and who profits?
I think Vietnam is still just below the American skin, and we are wary of Jingoism, maybe just those of us over 30. If pushed too far, or too long, there will be a backlash.
Anyway, the funniest line in that article, which was pretty entertaining in general, is this:
"We’ve got Silicon Valley and South Beach. We’ve got everything. And if that’s not enough, we’ve got Vegas--which is a facsimile of everything."

SG at February 17, 2004 08:37 AM [permalink]:

"Interesting that you would like war movies."

Only *seven* words in a comment? WOW!

Wessie at February 18, 2004 03:17 AM [permalink]:

Who is that ugly, scary looking dude in the picture? (That's only 10 words, sg.)

I am not a big movie fan—give me a book any day. ;-)

AIS at February 18, 2004 04:23 AM [permalink]:

American Woman,
You asked: "You have to talk the talk of virtue vs vice, but if that were the only issue, why weren't we in Soweto, why aren't we in Timur, or Cambodia? Moral indignation moves the people, but who feeds the media, and who profits?"

I think the article is very clear that-It is NOT the only issue- that's where the 'realism' part comes in. Here is what it says:

"Call it democratic realism. And this is its axiom: We will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity--meaning, places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom.

Where does it count? Fifty years ago, Germany and Japan counted. Why? Because they were the seeds of the greatest global threat to freedom in midcentury--fascism--and then were turned, by nation building, into bulwarks against the next great threat to freedom, Soviet communism.

Where does it count today? Where the overthrow of radicalism and the beginnings of democracy can have a decisive effect in the war against the new global threat to freedom, the new existential enemy, the Arab-Islamic totalitarianism that has threatened us in both its secular and religious forms for the quarter-century since the Khomeini revolution of 1979."

I don't quite understand your sensitivity with 'vested interests'. Would you only accept a utopia where people act solely because of their lovingkindness to one another? That is an ideal to strive for (perhaps) but nothing that can ever become reality. People have vested interests, everyone of us has.Your neighbor has it, the shopkeeper around the corner has it, you have it.(I'm starting to talk like Luke in Star Wars VI ;)) Yes, part of the propaganda is probably based on that, but so what? This does not undermine the overall justification of the whole thing. You can't dismiss the correctness of this attitude only because it is not PERFECTLY followed in practice.

You mentioned 'Vietnam'. It seems like a real problem for you Americans. Maybe it was a strategic mistake.It seems the soldiers became frustated and again everything didn't go as well as it is written in children stories. (I wonder if other wars including WWII were as 'clean' as they are reagrded today.) I honestly don't understand why you consider it so horribly wrong? The communists were trying to take over a peaceful country, America protected its ally and I have to look at South Korea versus the North to conclude that the Vietnames would have been fortunate, had the Americans won that war.

Here is a question for you: Has anyone of those peace-loving protesters during the rallies against the Vietnam war,those who held posters of Vietnamese children and shouted for their sake, GIVEN A DAMN ever since about what those children had to go through under the regime that finally came to power in Vietnam? What kind of brainwashing had they been subjected to? Or what went and still goes on inside the torture chambers over there? What kind of life and what rights an average Vietnamese had and has in this world? How come their concerns for human rights and the sufferings of the 'poor' Vietnamese stopped when US went out of Vietnam. Is human rights important only where the US is present? Is human rights only good for US-bashing propaganda purposes?

AIS at February 18, 2004 04:32 AM [permalink]:

I am amazed that nobody seems to notice what this article is promoting. This is fascism. Something that the author doesn't like and considers to be 'crap' is banned and he is supporting that.
Is it not clear to you that any REAl improvement will come by only in free competition? You ban something because you don't like it, you deny others who might like it the right to access it because you want to 'protect' what YOU percieve as the correct thing...THIS IS FASCIMS. And it is DISGUSTING, no matter how 'artistically' you want to express it.

Kaveh Kh. at February 18, 2004 10:32 AM [permalink]:

It is a picture of Luis Bunuel, late Spanish filmmaker.

Señor Græd at February 18, 2004 11:21 AM [permalink]:

I'd say it's Luis Buñuel. And yes, this picture must be taken late in his life and even late in the day it was taken. Old people usually look ugly, especially when they're beat.

Wessie at February 18, 2004 03:31 PM [permalink]:

" Old people usually look ugly, especially when they're beat."

I don't agree at all. There are many, many old people who look wonderful. But, of course "old" in some parts of the world is different that "old" in others. When life is harsh one can look old at 35. It is always shocking to see how old MEsterners look—especially the women—even those who have a relatively privileged life like Hanan Ashrawi or Arafat's wife. Both look like they've been "ridden hard and put up wet." They are overweight and have puffy faces with dark circles. . .

A lot of that is genetic of course. Madeleine Albright is not exactly a poster child either and neither are Henry Kissinger or Princess Anne. Prince Philipp OTOH or Queen Beatrice look great! In the US we have lots of older people (over 50) who are models and actors. They look terrific like Paul Newman for example or Cher, Anthony Hopkins, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Al Pacino. Women I can think of are Anne Bancroft, Glenn Close, Catherine Deneuve, Shirley Maclaine, Goldie Hawn. Since I am not a big movie fan, I don't know that many off the top of my head. But, when one walks down the street in any U.S. city one can see great looking "old" people—in shape and not decrepit at all. People in Europe tend to look worse after fifty.

The common view in the U.S. these days is that one is not "old" until in one's eighties. I know a few people who are in their nineties and look as if they are sixty. They still do sports and eat well—drink wine. . . ;-)

Wessie

Wessie at February 18, 2004 03:41 PM [permalink]:

. . ."How come their concerns for human rights and the sufferings of the 'poor' Vietnamese stopped when US went out of Vietnam. Is human rights important only where the US is present? Is human rights only good for US-bashing propaganda purposes?"

Isn't that the truth, AIS! What is interesting is that the Vietnamese want good relations with the U.S. just as the people of Iran seem to.

I am not sure that it is true that in order to produce "great art" one has to have suffered and lived a debauched life. In order to produce one must be disciplined and to have lived. And yet—looking at artists such as Jane Austin, who was a recluse and still wrote about love and relationships— even that does not always hold true.

The human mind is an extraordinary instrument. Whatever it can imagine can be brought to life.


Wessie


mehrad at February 18, 2004 04:49 PM [permalink]:

Dear AIS,
I'm quite happy you got the message of this article. I consider your comment as a compliment.

AmericanWoman at February 18, 2004 08:53 PM [permalink]:

The article is not promotig Facism. The message I got was that the narrow limitations imposed by the various regimes resulted in a more creative form of expression. Sometime less is more, and when less is all you've got, you have to emphasize things like subtext, metaphor, and getting the audience to interact with the art, so they can use their own emotions and experiences to make the associations which lead to the message the filmmaker wants to express. Then it is no longer a Bunuel Film, or a Mifune film. It's a personal experience for the viewer. In order for art to be effective, it has to reach out and draw an emotional response out of the beholder, and you don't really need car chases and explosions to do that.

Wessie at February 18, 2004 09:08 PM [permalink]:

Well, the difference is that in the West the directors, producers, etc. are free to do whatever they want as long as they can get financing—stupid car chases to idiotic cheese cake pics, etc. . No one is going to put out a fatwa and threaten their lives if they produce a film that "offends" some segments of society. The "Passion" (the controversial film about Jesus' last hours) is a wonderful example. If anyone had made a similar film about Mohammed—they'd have to go into hiding.

You can criticize American and Western films all you want. But, at least we have the choice to make them and the choice to see them or not. . . No such freedom under Islam.

Wessie

Tautologist at February 18, 2004 09:28 PM [permalink]:

Wessie,
McCarthism was not that long ago or was it?

Wessie at February 18, 2004 09:57 PM [permalink]:

"McCarthism was not that long ago or was it?"

LOL!!!

So, you are saying what exactly, Tautologist— That Islam is not a threat to civilization as we know it; that Islam is not misanthropic and misogynistic? What?

What Islamic film makers have been rounded up in the West?

As far as I know in the West Muslims can live the lives they can only dream of in Islamia—free and undisturbed—unless—they support Islamic terrorism. So far not too many have been "rounded up" or branded as was the case with "commie sympathizers" in the McCarthy era.

The problem is that Muslims want everything for them and nothing for anyone else‚ because, they are "the best of peoples," legends in their own minds. ;-)

Let them produce something worthwhile first.


Tautologist at February 18, 2004 10:43 PM [permalink]:

Wessie,
Claiming (proving) something is not equivalent to denying (disproving) anything else.

Wessie at February 18, 2004 11:01 PM [permalink]:

Tauto, speak English! ;-)

Nobody cares how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. What is it that you are trying to say?

AmericanWoman at February 19, 2004 01:43 AM [permalink]:

Tautologist,
McCarthyism was about 50 years ago. It seems like a long time ago, unless you consider that most of the people running the world now were alive at that time, probably have memories of seeing it live on TV, and hearing their parents and neighbors discuss it. A contemporary American playwright, his name escapes me, but he married Marilyn Monroe, wrote a play called The Crucible, which was apparently about the witchcraft trials in Salem, Mass 200 years earlier, but was in reality an allegorical protest against the "blacklisting." The truth is, that kind of thing comes and goes, but never really goes. Everyone is susceptible. Should we talk about Roman Polanski? Charlie Chaplin? How about Ingrid Bergman? Both of them were excommunicated from the Land of the Free, at the height of their creative careers, based on moral judgements about their lifestyles. They all won awards in absentia for their art. Hypocrisy was never mentioned publicly.
The fight for free speech goes on all the time around here, recently it was Tipper Gore and the distasteful lyrics of popular music, and more recently the Porno film industry, and on and on. Frank Zappa, Lenny Bruce. As long as there is argument and the first amendment, there is hope.

AIS at February 19, 2004 10:05 PM [permalink]:

Glenn Close looks good?!!!

The playwright was Arthur Koestler, I think.

AmericanWoman at February 20, 2004 01:29 AM [permalink]:

Arthur Miller? I'm going to answer your last post directed to me under the original article where you brought up Democratic Realism. As soon as I find it.

An Iranian Student(AIS) at February 20, 2004 04:53 AM [permalink]:

D'oh....Yeah, I meant Arthur Miller! Sorry about that. I don't know where Koestler came into my mind. He was the writer of 'Sleepwalkers', itself an interesting book.

Since I can't post for the next 2 hours I just add something else here. Check this one out:
Alqaeda exposed

I was still shocked despite having experienced Mullahs alll my life. call me racist, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't bring myself to regard these 'beings' as anything but sub-human. My fathers words kept echoing: " We share the planet with three groups of animals: domestic animals, Wild animals and Islamic animals!"
(Especially the guy 'Abu-Hamza' from London who desperately needs a couple of bullets in the molten shit that floats within his skull)

No wonder the world is suspicious of us. They attach us to these animals. I think I have to reiterate that we definitely need to collectively step out of this zoo and come back to the rest of the civilised world, because the Iran I know, even in ths darkest hour, has no connection with THIS horror. For us, this mass return is still an option we should take as soon as possible.
(and we should also be aware of the islamist-mullah tribe within us that does belong to the same jungle, but to be fair is still much more 'civilised' (may the High Builder forgive me!)

And Senior Grad,
I'm not sure if you mean your questions or are just asking them to provoke a certain person, but here goes anyway: Even if people are not inherently equal, they should be given equal 'oppportunities'. This is a way of giving the 'market' decide , since anyone who is better can also go further.(Just like in economy, you prepare free opportunities for all (that is where the rule of some kind of law is needed and that's what differentiates trade from theft) and then let it go,since nature is the best judge from then on) Any other way would need some ad hoc deciding procedure which is definitely not perfect (and worse than the 'natural selection'), in which case you would end up with more talented etc. people getting even less rights than others. So equal rights are the ideal to move towards.
Saying it in another way,it is correct for the same reason that swimmers must stand in the same line and start at the same time in competitions.

Finally Mehrad,
I really don't think I need to answer you any more.

Mehrad at February 20, 2004 02:20 PM [permalink]:

Dear An Iranian Student,
I am afraid -again- I have to consider your comment as yet another humble compliment.

AIS at February 23, 2004 03:48 PM [permalink]:

American Woman,

Sorry I wanted to comment on what you said, but forgot it. Although it's a bit too late, it is short so here goes:
"the narrow limitations imposed by the various regimes resulted in a more creative form of expression."
This is not my take on the article. A narrow limitation by Governments to help a domestic though provoking Cinema would be adding subsidies on home made films, designating certain good cinemas for home made 'intellectual' films. helping the cinematographers. Promoting them in the international market and NOT SENSORING their work which is the most important of them all. Banning Hollywood films entirely is censorship of the worst kind. Defending it in an article like this, by someone who seems to have been a student activist himself is unacceptable. This is despotism, decing beforehand what people should or should not watch, what is or is not good fro them , what does and does not make them grow. Isn't this what the whole fundamentalist 'soveregnty of the clergy' is all about, forcing people to grow despite their own will, since they don't quite understand things as goos as 'the wise' do anyway?
I won't say more on this topic, since compared to what this system has done and also the present situation, it is quite insignificant. (And I think I have complimented this author enough already)