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TitleIranian Cosmopolitanism: A Cinematic History
PublisherCambridge University Press
CategoryArts - Film
File Size24.6 MB
Total Pages318
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Page 1

Iranian Cosmopolitanism

A Cinematic History

golbarg rekabtalaei
Seton Hall University

Page 2

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Information on this title:
DOI: 10.1017/9781108290289

© Golbarg Rekabtalaei 2019

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no reproduction of any part may take place without the written
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Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Names: Rekabtalaei, Golbarg, 1983 author.
Title: Iranian Cosmopolitanism : a cinematic history / Golbarg Rekabtalaei,

Seton Hall University.
Description: Cambridge, UK ; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2018. |

Series: The global Middle East | Based in the author's dissertation (doctoral)
University of Toronto, 2015. | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identi� ers: LCCN 2018009863 | ISBN 9781108418515 (hardback : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Cosmopolitanism in motion pictures. | Motion pictures Iran History

20th century. | Motion picture industry Iran History 20th century.
Classi� cation: LCC PN1995.9.C558 R45 2018 | DDC 791.43/655 dc23

LC record available at

ISBN 978 1 108 41851 5 Hardback

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accurate or appropriate.

Page 159

powers, the Soviet forces withdrew from the north-western provinces
in 1946, which allowed for the Iranian government to assert its
control there.

The cultural exchanges enabled through the international societies
active in Iran, filmic exchanges that were prompted through the
training of Iranian filmmakers by groups such as the Syracuse Team,
and the general reception of newsreels, short non-fictions and docu-
mentaries, gave rise to cosmopolitan cinematic visions among its prac-
titioners and arguably its receivers. While many of these educational
films were distributed in rural areas and among farmers and villages,
some of them were also featured in cinemas in urban centres to
familiarise people of diverse backgrounds with the activities of various
organisations and general technological or agricultural advancements.
Some of the Iranian documentary filmmakers were trained outside
Iran, and others involved in the production of non-fiction films were
educated abroad. Although commissioned or funded by the Pahlavi
state, cultural activities in the field of documentary filmmaking after
World War II also attest to cosmopolitan exchanges and imaginaries
that allowed many of the filmmakers to express themselves artistically
and politically.

As the Allied forces continued their cinematic publicity, Iranian
state officials and the religious establishment grew weary of their
political agenda and began pressuring the government to limit their
cinematic activities in Iran. In 1950, in response to widespread
objections to foreign propaganda, a more comprehensive Code of
Cinemas and Theatrical Institutions was issued by the Ministry of
the State. According to this new Code, a central Commission of
Theatres (Kumīsīyun-i Namāyish) was established under the super-
vision of the Ministry, the activities of which were very similar to the
Department of Theatres. The Code reaffirmed that no film could be
screened in Iran without prior approval from this Commission.
According to the 1957 revision of this Code, the board of the
Commission in Tehran included members from the Ministry of the
State, Ministry of Culture, National Police, National Office of the
Press and Radio and the Organisation of Intelligence and Security.
From 1964 to 1965, film production and film revision came under
the control of the Ministry of Culture and Arts and remained so
until the 1979 revolution. As such, the post–World War II attempts
of the Allied forces to publicise their activities on cinema screens and

3.1 Propaganda Films in Post-War Iran 145

Page 160

the importation of popular foreign language films did not go
unnoticed by the government and, as we shall see, by cinema audi-
ences. Despite the fact that cinematic affairs were under the control
of governmental institutions, certain figures within the Iranian gov-
ernment and outside the above-mentioned institutions (namely
Farah Pahlavi after her marriage to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi)
enjoyed the prerogative to allow or ban the screening of certain
films, depending on the content and its importance in terms of
national interests.46

While the Allied forces withdrew their troops from Iran in 1946,
international Cold War policies, Iran’s oil reserves and its economic
and industrial development thrusted the country into the throes of
global politics in the years that followed. Iran’s entanglement in
national and international politics coincided with the increasing pro-
duction of Iranian popular feature films in the 1950s, which then
compelled film critics and social thinkers to demand state support for
the development of a “national cinema.” Some of the demands of the
industry included the levying of taxes on Iranian films, efforts to
promote national film offerings, preventing the screening of commer-
cial, international motion pictures and encouraging the import of
international art house and intellectual films – all of which allowed
for the flourishing of a cosmopolitan national cinema in the decades
that followed. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss how industri-
alists, film critics, cinema enthusiasts and writers laid the foundation
for the establishment and thriving of a sustained mainstream national
cinema in Iran.

3.2 Post–World War II Image Culture and Social Typecasts

In the late 1930s and 1940s, a number of of dubbing studios were
established that translated the dialogues of Hollywood and other
global commercial films into Persian, and re-recorded them with
voice-overs by famous Iranian artists, most of whom already worked
in radio and theatre. The production of Iranian (Persian language)
films began again in the late 1940s, adding to the variety of films
featured in movie houses across the country. Consequently, the
number of cinema journals and publications that followed events

46 Naficy, A Social History of Iranian Cinema, vol. 2, 70 71.

146 Industrial Professionalisation

Page 317

theatre actors, in Iran film industry, 166
Third Cinema, 241 242
The Three Gallants (Sah Dilāvar), 232
Tongue Tied (Zabūn Bastah), 211 212
tough guy genre, 204
Training Center for Cinema Acting,

98 103
Tranquility in the Presence of Others

(Arāmish dar Huzūr i Dīgarān),
259 260

Tūfān i Zindigī (The Storm of Life), 187
Turkmanchai Treaty, 29

Umid, Jamal, 187, 265
United States
Cultural Society of Iran and America

and, 141 143
Iran America Cultural Relations

Society, 139
propaganda films from, 141 143

United States Information Service, 140
early cinema culture influenced by,

28 29, 48 62
through advertising, 47, 58
automobile use and, 49 50
through expansion of public
transportation, 48

in films about Tehran, 50 52
infrastructure development, 49 50
Karbalāyīs, 48
in local media, 60 62
projection technology, 56 60
spectatorship culture, 57
transformation of movie theatres,
52 57

in Western media, 49 50
Persian films influenced by, 206

Uskūyī, Mahīn, 199
Usnah ’i Bābā Subhān (The Legend of

Baba Subhan), 261 262

Vahdat, Farzin, 3
Vahdat, Nusratullāh, 170, 223 224
Vahīdī, Gītī, 259

Vakīlī, ʿAlī, 56 57, 71
Cinema and Screenings, 65 66,

77 78
Varparīdah (Wicked), 217
A Vent of Hope (Rawzanah ’i Umīd),

210 211
Vertova, Dziga, 112

The Wages of Fear, 169
Walker, Alexander, 271
Weiler, A. H., 260
Wertmüller, Lina, 270
Westoxication, 155 160, 234 237
White Glove (Dastkish i Sifīd), 172
White Gold, 228 229
White Revolution, 244 245
Wicked (Varparīdah), 217
Williams, Don, 140

in Persian films, traditional gender
roles for, 217 220

response to early cinema culture,
76 78

segregation of, in cinemas, 69 71

Yaghoubian, David, 9 14, 63 64
Yāsimī, Shāpūr, 208
Yāsimī, Siyāmak, 192, 204, 208, 217,

Yik Isfahānī dar Nīyaw Yurk (An

Isfahani in New York), 231
Yik Ittifāq i Sādah (A Simple Event),

Young, T. Cuyler, 139
Young Cinema, 245 246, 250
Young German Cinema, 240
Yusuf and Zulaykhā, 208

Zabūn Bastah (Tongue Tied), 211 212
Zand, Ibrāhīm, 144
Zhālah, 164 165
Zindānī yi Amīr (Emir’s Prisoner), 188
Zoroastrian Cinema, 71, 77 78
Zubaida, Sami, 10 11
Zurlini, Valerio, 277

Index 303

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