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.