Translated from Persian by Alan Williams
By Sakina Shakil, The International
Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s film industry has been thriving amid the turbulent political scene and in spite of strict censorship laws. The relationship between politics and film has been especially pronounced when Iran’s controversial presidential elections coincided with a burgeoning international recognition of the country’s film industry. Many Iranian films have competed in international film festivals and several were awarded prestigious prizes. Mr. Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly won numerous awards including Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival award and the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009. Ms. Shirin Neshat won the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival for Women Without Men.
Moreover, many of the latest Iranian films—many made by women—discuss women’s roles in Iran and how they have been developing in a country where politics, religion, and culture are deeply intertwined. Indeed, creativity often feeds off censorship. As Ms. Negar Mottahedeh, an associate professor of Literature and Women’s Studies at Duke University and author of Displaced Allegories: Post-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema, told CNN, "film cultures have flourished oftentimes when they have been under restrictions."