A Lost Continent of Cinema:
Filmfarsi, an Iranian Paradox
Viewed and loved by millions of Iranians while hated and ridiculed by film critics, Iranian popular cinema, pejoratively labeled as filmfarsi, was one of the most thriving film industries in the Middle East relying on generic conventions, character stereotyping, and a star system. Seen after the 1979 revolution as emblematic of moral corruption and “westoxification”, it was banned and attempts were made to make it indefinitely inaccessible, erasing any signs of it. This talk examines regional and transnational origins and influences of filmfarsi, its reception by Iranian audiences, the impact of censorship on it, its ongoing project of forging an image for the nascent middle class, and its circulation and recycling. This talk is about what Iranian popular cinema can tell us about Iran and Iranians, past and present.
Lecture in English, by Ehsan Khoshbakht (filmmaker, film curator and writer). Ehsan Khoshbakht co-directs Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna and is the curator of Iranian Cinema Before the Revolution, an ongoing retrospective at MoMA in New York.