Not for nothing was the Shah of Iran known as the Shit of Iran to readers of Private Eye. But before the Islamic revolution, Iranian cinema of the 1960s and 1970s was awash with titillating low-budget thrillers and melodramas. Most of these were destroyed by the stern beardy disapprovers and only a few VHS rips remain. It’s from these that Ehsan Khoshbakht has constructed his fascinating essay on film under the Shah.
There are remakes and rip-offs, even a Persian Vertigo. The often cheap, sleazy and derivative films offer an insight into Iran’s psyche. Among the scratched reels, some keystones of the nation’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.
This Cinema Rediscovered world premiere screening will be introduced by director Ehsan Khoshbakht, who is also co-director of Il Cinema Ritrovato.