Iranian Cinema: After the Revolution

Following the 1979 revolution, Iranian cinema had to reckon with the sudden imposition of religious values and state censorship. Over 180 cinemas were destroyed, the flow of western media was suppressed, and many working filmmakers fled overseas.

But wherever art is restricted, artists show incredible resilience and adaptation. A new wave of filmmakers blossomed under state-sanctioned cinema, turning to the genre of social realism to comment on, critique and explore life in the Islamic Republic.

The struggle for women’s rights has been a consistent focus of these films, with more and more female filmmakers adding their own voices to the artistic sphere since.

Iranian Cinema: After the Revolution, a film studies season at Showroom Cinema, will chart how independent stories have evolved in the decades since 1979, with a particular focus on female representation.

We start with Chess of the Wind by Mohammadreza Aslani (24 January). The film was only screened twice before being quickly banned and presumed lost until 2014. It showcases the oft-forgotten diversity of pre-revolution culture. Scored by the trailblazing composer Sheyda Gharachedaghi, it’s a gothic horror about an heiress with paraplegia and the predatory men who encircle her.

Next, Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami (7 February), a landmark of Iranian cinema and Palme d’Or winner. The tale, of a man seeking someone to bury him after he commits suicide, was a platform for Kiarostami to discuss big questions, the pursuit of meaning and personal connection.

Under the Skin of the City by Rakhshan Bani-E’temad follows on 21 February. As we move through the decades, we see new reflections of social and political life. Tuba, a working woman, must deal with familial pressures of drug addiction and activism, while living under a patriarchal state. Raw and empathetic, it continues a rich tapestry of Iranian life as told on screen.

We conclude with A Separation by Asghar Farhandi (6 March). This film once more brought Iranian cinema international recognition, winning the 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The plot sees Simin and Nader plunge into a legal battle as their marriage buckles under personal ambitions and social expectations.

Together, these films show the efforts of filmmakers to keep records of the lives of everyday people. Sima Sheibani, the course leader, will expand on the influence of religion and politics, across four companion talks, and explore where this rich, filmmaking heritage can take Iran next.

Call the Showroom Box Office on 0114 275 7727 or visit to book your season pass.


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