Iran and its Others: Locating Cultural Diversity in Iranian Cinema

By Michelle Langford.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Despite being one of the most talented and prominent directors to have emerged from Iran in the last 10 years, Kurdish-Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi has reportedly been warned to avoid using the Kurdish language in his films. Such restrictions threaten to curtail the important stories Ghobadi wishes to tell about the experiences of a highly marginalised facet of the wider Iranian community. Despite working under such conditions, numerous Iranian directors have attempted to represent aspects of Iran’s rich cultural diversity. Constituted of many different regional and linguistic groups, Kurds, Turks, Afghans and refugees of the Iran-Iraq war. This article will examine the range and scope of cultural diversity represented in post-revolutionary Iranian cinema, from the presence of Afghan characters as marginal but important figures in a range of films to the more extensive examination of the plight of Afghan refugees. I will also discuss the role played by Iranian directors in bringing attention to social problems in Afghanistan by filming in that country and producing what has been hailed as the first Afghan feature film after many decades of invasion, civil war, repressive Taliban rule and the war on terror. In many cases, the marginal legal and civil status of ethnic minorities within Iran is treated thematically by setting films in marginal locations with the ‘border’ functioning as a device to signify and highlight this status. I will argue that although the scope and range of cultural and ethnic diversity in Iranian cinema does not equal or mirror that in Iranian society itself, these films nevertheless manage to be inclusive despite the various restrictions placed on the content and form of films in Iran.

Keywords: Iran, Cinema, Kurdish, Afghanistan, Refugees

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp.151-158. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 877.091KB).

Dr Michelle Langford

Associate Lecturer, School of Media, Film and Theatre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Michelle Langford teaches film studies at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She is currently conducting research on Iranian cinema, focusing on the uses of allegory, censorship and the representation of women and ethnic minorities. This work follows on from previous research on allegorical cinema and the films of German director Werner Schroeter. Her book Allegorical Images: Tableau, Time and Gesture in the Cinema of Werner Schroeter was published by Intellect Books in 2006.

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