Samira Makhmalbaf : At Five in the Afternoon

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so i was reading the guardian yesterday and read that this is the director of 'the apple', and she was only 18 when she made that! like, wtf?
also, this is her new film which sounds prettty interesting and its doing the rounds at cannes. about a afganistani girl who dreams of becoming president of afganistan...

but, what is it with iran? why is the film industry there flourishing so spectacularly over the past ???? years. why not other central asian countries for example?
what are the conditions that have created this sort of hothouse of film making? or is it that for some reason over here evrything else is getting ignored?

ambrose (ambrose), Tuesday, 20 May 2003 14:14 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm not sure that the industry is flourishing so much as in the 1990s, a number of filmmakers made great inroads into international festivals and eventually art house screens. As always with such events there are people behind the scenes--diligent advocates in Teheran, programmers from Paris to Chicago--who are largely responsible.

There are major films from other Central Asian republics--in fact a series of films from the former Soviet Central Asian republics was in NY recently and is now in Chicago--but I don't believe there are many films produced in those countries overall. During the Soviet era Kazakhstan was actually a regional center of film production but I suspect much of the financing and maybe even some of the technology went back to Moscow and St. Petersburg in the early 1990s. But there are film programs at the universities, cinema clubs, and so on there.

Iran produces quite a few films I believe, but many if not most of them are not too dissimilar from the commercial fare produced elsewhere in the Middle East and the subcontinent. It's rare that people outside of Iran get to see such films, although the local Persian market has a bunch of them. Many of the "art" films that premiere to acclaim in Western festivals are hardly seen at all in their native Iran; Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry had only one or two official screenings I believe, and I don't think his recent 10 has fared much better. Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Samira's dad) is a higher-profile figure there but still, of a number of Iranian immigrants I've met in Chicago, only one had even heard of him.

Anyway, as for Samira, her dad founded the "Makhmalbaf Film House" some years ago to train his family and friends to make their own films. He's collaborated on the screenplays of films by Samira and a film by his wife called The Day I Became a Woman. Mohsen's an interesting character; like Lars von Trier it seems important to him to establish a "brand" and also like V.T. his films are wildly divergent in their styles. His daughter adheres more closely to the mode of documentary realism that's become an accepted Iranian style after the films of Kiarostami. I liked The Apple and Blackboards a lot (The Apple especially) and am looking forward to this one. Supposedly there is "Palme d'or buzz" already.

amateurist (amateurist), Tuesday, 20 May 2003 15:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Also a lot of Iranian filmmakers have made films about Afghanistan recently. There are large numbers of Afghans in Iran (either immirgants to the cities or displaced along the border) and two major Iranian films of the 1990s addressed this, albeit in a nonpolemical way: Taste of Cherry and The White Balloon. More recently there's been Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Kandahar and Afghan Alphabet, neither of which I liked all that much. There's something just vaguely colonial about those films, as with many things undertaken (in part) in the spirit of charity.

amateurist (amateurist), Tuesday, 20 May 2003 15:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Here's an article on the Makhmalbafs:

amateurist (amateurist), Tuesday, 20 May 2003 15:57 (sixteen years ago) link

What I was trying to say is that the idea of "Iranian film" a Western arthouse viewer would have, and the idea of "Iranian film" that an average Iranian would have, are probably quite different. I wonder if there's even any overlap.

amateurist (amateurist), Tuesday, 20 May 2003 16:04 (sixteen years ago) link

Kiarostami in particular aims his product much more for a festival/overseas market and gets most of his funding from there as well. Iran itself is quite happy with this, giving in a cultural profile without being particularly challenging since Kiarostami isn't seen much. I think Samira Makhmalbaf is pretty talented, as mentioned above The Apple and Blackboards were both pretty good, but there is a degree of cultural imperialist priviliging going on with some reviews of Iranian cinema. Censorship in Iran is not that bad, there has been a large push for art post the split of church and state (and democratically Iran is pretty forward look). I saw a more popular Iranian film a couple of months ago (Beneath The Skin Of The City) which was a lot more gritty, populist and to my mind more enjoyable that Kiarostami.

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 21 May 2003 09:39 (sixteen years ago) link

kandahar was trash. it almost seemed like a cheap michael moore kinda crap thing. i didn't even realize it was a makhmalbaf until just now, actually.

but i guess the only other of his i've seen was a moment of innocence, which i found quietly whimsical, with a nod to godard or something.

blablablblabla why am i even posting on this thread?

brian badword (badwords), Thursday, 22 May 2003 05:48 (sixteen years ago) link

god, i'm sorry...

please continue.

brian badword (badwords), Thursday, 22 May 2003 05:50 (sixteen years ago) link

Haha. There were a few mentions of S.M. being "glamorous" in the various reports from Cannes. I see what they mean. It's certainly in contrast to her films.

I suppose this is the kind of thing that Kiarostami is trying to deal with when he includes himself (or a surrogate) in his films--the odd relationship between Westernized, well-off artistic elites from Teheran making films about uneducated, impoverished people in remote areas of Iran.

amateurist (amateurist), Saturday, 24 May 2003 02:58 (sixteen years ago) link

fourteen years pass...

Looks great.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 18 May 2018 13:21 (one year ago) link

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