AE AS 05

Oct 25: Lecture: Women in Iranian Cinema (Maryam Ghorban Kharimi)

Iranian cinema, both before and after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, has been closely monitored by the ruling power, and has been utilized to relay messages and information that comply with the ruling ideology. However, it was only after the Revolution and the subsequent legitimization of cinema by the Islamic rule that cinema became widely accessible to the general public. Within this context, this lecture explores the changing roles of women in film production and their representation in films made between the 1960s and 2000s.

It was in the late 1980s that women took a prominent role both behind and in front of the camera for the first time, even though some aspects of women’s lives became stricter after the revolution. These shifts were due to several factors, including factionalism within the Islamic Republic, shifts in the Iranian film industry, and the emergence of a group of highly educated film production teams, in addition to the fuller integration of women into the film industry. This study explores a number of representative female-centric films including A Separation (2011), with a focus on their cultural, social and cinematic contexts.

             Film: A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) 

The plot of A Separation is straightforward:  the wife wants the family to leave Iran so that they can build a better life for their daughter elsewhere; the husband wants the family to stay, so that he can look after his father. It's a movie about good people trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstances, and how our failings can be exacerbated by gender, class, and cultural norms. Farhadi's writing and direction, and outstanding performances from his cast, make us empathise with all of the characters, and for Western viewers, the film opens a window into the complexity of modern-day Iran.

A Separation has been showered with awards across the world, including an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (2011), and has received universal critical acclaim. RottenTomatoes gave it a 99% rating: "Morally complex, suspenseful, and consistently involving, A Separation captures the messiness of a dissolving relationship with keen insight and searing intensity". 

Berwick Film Society will be showing The Salesman, Farhadi's 2016 movie, which also won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, on October 31, so this is a great opportunity to see two movies from an outstanding director in close succession.