"Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s" At Asia Society Illuminates An Influential But Little-Known Period Of Cinema History

Featured Critic; New York City, New York
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Asia Society's film series "Iranian New Wave 1960s-1970s," screening November 2-22, illuminates one of the lesser known film movements of the 60s and 70s, during which filmmakers in Iran, similarly to other contemporary movements in France, Czechoslovakia, Japan, and Brazil, were creating works with boldly individual styles that confronted the sociopolitical realities of their time. In Iran, these films, which were influenced by other world cinemas, navigated governmental censorship to offer alternatives to Hollywood movies and shallow domestic popular movies. Despite their immense influence on later filmmakers, these films remain little known and rarely screened. This series, in conjunction with Asia Society's "Iran Modern" exhibition of pre-1979 revolution Iranian art, sheds valuable light on this important period of cinema history. Below are particular highlights of the series; for more information and to purchase tickets, visit Asia Society's website.

THE COW (Dariush Mehrjui, 1969)

Mehrjui’s second film, based on a story by co-screenwriter Gholam-Hossein Saedi, is now a generally acknowledged landmark of Iranian cinema, but it was banned at the time because of its stark depictions of poverty in the countryside, which contradicted the Shah government’s efforts to promote Iran as a fully modernized country. When a man’s beloved cow and the pride of the village dies, he suffers a mental breakdown and eventually becomes convinced that he is his own cow. The village also collapses as a result, revealing the tenuous nature of its existence, since this one event manages to completely disintegrate its collective psychological stability. The Cow was smuggled to the 1971 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Critics Award, putting Iranian cinema solidly on the world stage; this allowed a belated release in Iran to great acclaim and popularity. The film also had an unlikely fan in the Ayatollah Khomeini, and The Cow has been credited with saving Iranian cinema from being banned completely after the 1979 revolution.

(November 2, 6pm)

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Abbas KiarostamiAsia SocietyBahram BeyzaieDariush MehrjuiDownpourIranian New WaveJamsheed AkramiKamran ShirdelThe CowThe Lost CinemaThe Night It RainedThe Traveler