MY TEHRAN FOR SALE (Granaz Moussavi, 2009)

There is considerable value in My Tehran for Sale’s tackling the topic and the milieu that it does. Iran today is so repressive that young Iranians must “go underground” to participate in raves and other forms of youthful expression; the state does not allow such activities. Progressive theater is likewise forbidden. The protagonist of writer-director […]

THIS IS NOT A FILM (Jafar Panahi, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)

In film nist is a bracing “attempt” at something. It is “not a film” because it must not be a film. Its principal maker, Jafar Panahi, has been arrested and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and banned from making films or even writing screenplays for 20 years. His crimes? Panahi protested the results of Iran’s […]

SANAM (Rafi Pitts, 2000)

An elliptical parable with something of the force and beauty of Ford and Fernández’s The Fugitive (1947), but with more political punch, Rafi Pitts’s Sanam, from Iran, proceeds at a solemn pace, through deceptively quiet, seemingly half-submerged emotional territory, to a haunting, incendiary finish. It won for Pitts best film prizes at Paris, Vesoul, Valencia, […]

A SEPARATION (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

Only an imbecile or a mental case would mistake writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s long, involved, moderately involving Jodaeiye Nader az Simin for one of the glories of Iranian cinema, of which there are thrillingly and movingly many; but at least now, at last, an Iranian film has won the foreign-language film Oscar. Indeed, this highly intelligent […]


When it was falsely rumored that his next film would confront the disputed results of Iran’s 2009 presidential election, Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Jafar Panahi to six years of imprisonment and prohibited his making another film, or engaging in political activity or traveling, for twenty years. Although it deals with musicians rather than filmmakers, Bahman […]