Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic

Paperback | November 8, 2016

byBlake Atwood

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It is nearly impossible to separate contemporary Iranian cinema from the Islamic revolution that transformed film production in the country in the late 1970s. As the aims of the revolution shifted and hardened once Khomeini took power and as an eight-year war with Iraq dragged on, Iranian filmmakers confronted new restrictions. In the 1990s, however, the Reformist Movement, led by Mohammad Khatami, and the film industry, developed an unlikely partnership that moved audiences away from revolutionary ideas and toward a discourse of reform. In Reform Cinema in Iran, Blake Atwood examines how new industrial and aesthetic practices created a distinct cultural and political style in Iranian film between 1989 and 2007.

Atwood analyzes a range of popular, art, and documentary films. He provides new readings of internationally recognized films such as Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry (1997) and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Time for Love (1990), as well as those by Rakhshan Bani, Masud Kiami, and other key Iranian directors. At the same time, he also considers how filmmakers and the film industry were affected by larger political and religious trends that took shape during Mohammad Khatami's presidency (1997-2005). Atwood analyzes political speeches, religious sermons, and newspaper editorials and pays close attention to technological developments, particularly the rise of video, to determine their role in democratizing filmmaking and realizing the goals of political reform. He concludes with a look at the legacy of reform cinema, including films produced under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose neoconservative discourse rejected the policies of reform that preceded him.

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It is nearly impossible to separate contemporary Iranian cinema from the Islamic revolution that transformed film production in the country in the late 1970s. As the aims of the revolution shifted and hardened once Khomeini took power and as an eight-year war with Iraq dragged on, Iranian filmmakers confronted new restrictions. In the...

Blake Atwood is an assistant professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the coeditor, with Peter Decherney, of Iranian Cinema in a Global Context: Policy, Politics, and Form (2014).

other books by Blake Atwood

Format:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:November 8, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231178174

ISBN - 13:9780231178174

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Table of Contents

A Note on TransliterationAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Revolutionary Cinema and the Logic of Reform1. When Love Entered Cinema: Mysticism and the Emerging Poetics of Reform2. Screening Reform: Campaign Movies, Documentaries, and Urban Tehran3. Video Democracies: Or, The Death of the Filmmaker4. Who Killed the Tough Guy? Continuity and Rupture in the Filmfarsi Tradition5. Film Archives and Online Videos: The Search for Reform in Post-Khatami IranConclusion: Iran's Cinema Museum and Political UnrestNotesBibliographyFilmographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

In Reform Cinema in Iran, Atwood masterfully captures the complex and paradoxical relations between filmmaking and the desire for reconfigurations of the revolution's objectives. Particularly significant is his analysis of how film as a medium and new technologies of representation were instrumental in setting the terms of the reform movement. An important contribution to the study of Iranian cinema and contemporary Iran's cultural production.