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Essay Film Festival: Filmfarsi with filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht in conversation

At a glance
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Time 18:00
Date 31/03/17
Price Free
  • Produced by Essay Film Festival
  • Price Free
  • Get ready for an examination of the melodramas that defined Iranian cinema during the 60s and 70s
  • Bring along fans of filmmaker and writer Ehsan Khoshbakht, who will be in conversation
  • Surf to Tickets
  • See you at Birkbeck

“Filmfarsi was the cinema of a nation with a split personality”, says filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht in this film-critical history of Iran under the Shah.

Khoshbakht’s found-footage essay film Filmfarsi salvages low budget thrillers and melodramas suppressed following the 1979 Islamic revolution. Little more than VHS rips remain. Khoshbakht here uncovers that which was thought destroyed.

A cinema of titillation, action and big emotions, which also presented a troubling mirror for the country, as Iran struggled to reconcile its religious traditions with the turbulence of modernity, and the influences of the West. There are remakes and rip-offs, even a Persian Vertigo.

The often cheap, sleazy and derivative films offer an insight into Iran’s psyche. Exploring the possibilities for the essay film, cinephilia, and the documentary today, Filmfarsi presents a cinematic and social history of a nation, with a keen critical eye. Khoshbakht identifies not only the formal and thematic throughlines in the movies; he also shows us the ways in which Iran has performed specific images of itself.

Among the scratched reels, some keystones of Iran’s extraordinary film culture emerge too: Gheysar, whose title design was done by a young Abbas Kiarostami; the work of director Samuel Khachikian, a progenitor of Iranian noir; and The Deer, a film which more than any other symbolises the historic violent turns in Iran’s recent past.

Filmfarsi presaged a revolution, and it became one of its first victims.