Iranian New Wave


Iranian New Wave refers to a new movement in Iranian cinema. It started in 1969 after the release of The Cow directed by Darius Mehrjui.

It was followed by Masoud Kimiai's Qeysar, and Nasser Taqvai's Calm in Front of Others. They set off a trend that was cultural, dynamic and intellectual.

The Iranian viewer became discriminating, encouraging the new trend to prosper and develop. In 3-4 years, 40-50 noteworthy films were made, establishing the New Wave of Iranian cinema.

The pioneers of the Iranian New Wave were directors like Darius Mehrjui, Masoud Kimiai, Nasser Taqvai, Forough Farrokhzad, Sohrab Shahid-Saless, Bahram Beizai, and Parviz Kimiavi.

They made innovative art films with highly political and philosophical tones and poetic language. Subsequent films of this type have become known as the New Iranian cinema to distinguish them from their earlier roots. The most notable figures of the Iranian New Wave are Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Majid Majidi, Bahram Beizai, Darius Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Masoud Kimiai, Sohrab Shahid-Saless, Parviz Kimiavi, Samira Makhmalbaf, Amir Naderi, and Abolfazl Jalili.

The factors leading to the rise of the New Wave in Iran were, in part, due to the intellectual and political movements of the time. A romantic climate was developing after the 19 August 1953 coup in the sphere of arts. Alongside this, a socially committed literature took shape in the 1950s and reached a peak in the 1960s, which may consider as the golden era of contemporary Persian literature.

Iranian New Wave films shared some characteristics with the European art films of the period, in particular Italian Neorealism. However, in her article 'Real Fictions', Rose Issa argues that Iranian films have a distinctively Iranian cinematic language

"that champions the poetry in everyday life and the ordinary person by blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality, feature film with documentary."

She also argues that this unique approach has inspired European cinema directors to emulate this style, citing Michael Winterbottom's award-winning In This World (2002) as an homage to contemporary Iranian cinema. Issa claims that "This new, humanistic aesthetic language, determined by the film-makersí individual and national identity, rather than the forces of globalism, has a strong creative dialogue not only on homeground but with audiences around the world."

Moreover, Iranian new wave films are rich in poetry and painterly images. There is a line back from modern Iranian cinema to the ancient oral Persian storytellers and poets, via the poems of Omar Khayyam.

Features of New Wave Iranian film, in particular the works of legendary Abbas Kiarostami, have been classified by some as postmodern.

In his monumental book Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future (2001) Hamid Dabashi describes modern Iranian cinema and the phenomenon of [Iranian] national cinema as a form of cultural modernity. According to Dabashi, "the visual possibility of seeing the historical person (as opposed to the eternal Qur'anic man) on screen is arguably the single most important event allowing Iranians access to modernity."

While Kiarostami and Panahi represent the first and second generations of New wave filmmakers respectively, the third generation is represented by Bahman Ghobadi, Maziar Miri, Asghar Farhadi, Mani Haghighi, and Babak Payami,along with newly emerged filmmakers such as Kiarash Anvari, Maziar Bahari, Sadaf Foroughi, Saman Saloor, and Mona Zandi-Haqiqi.



Al-Ahram Weekly | People | Limelight

The New Wave in Iranian Cinema - From Past to Present

Real Fictions

Steve Nottingham: Early Soviet Cinema

Abbas Kiarostami ? The Truth Behind Reality

Rising talent on Iranian Scene

To Kiarostami or Not To Kiarostami


External links

Iranian Cinema: New Directors, New Directions

Iran new wave filmmaker Ghaffari dies in Paris

The Subway Will Carry Us: Master Filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami Teaches in Manhattan