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Centre for Media Studies

Iranian media and film

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1

Iranian films have had a prominent place at international film festivals for over 20 years winning a large number of awards. The phenomenal success is paradoxical on many levels. Firstly, the production of such volume of films under the recent political milieu has come as a surprise to many around the world. Secondly, Iranian filmmakers have successfully overcome many restrictions surrounding the representations of women. Thirdly, Iranian films have often resorted to the use of metaphors in their visual rhetoric to bypass the potential scrutiny of censorship. This ironic situation has led to the proliferation of writings about Iranian "art cinema" which often have not taken into account the dynamic context of production and reception of these films. Furthermore, the attention to "art cinema" has come at the expense of the larger body of films including mainstream, and "exilic" varieties.

In this course, we will consider Iranian cinema in its social and historical context as well as looking at some of its often-overshadowed varieties. The course is designed to offer students an overview of the topic while providing those interested in further research with a sound base. It is important to note that this course does not aim to be exhaustive. Rather, the approach is selective in using examples from a range of cinematic expressions fostering a broader understanding of Iranian cinema.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • Gain knowledge of historical developments of Iranian cinema
  • Be able to understand the relationship between politics and cinema in Iran
  • Gain some knowledge of Iranian society and culture through the prism of cinema
  • Learn about main genres of film in Iran
  • Become familiar with the works of major Iranian filmmakers
  • Learn about mainstream Iranian cinema
  • Gain an understanding about diasporic Iranian filmmaking
  • Learn about audiences of film in Iran
  • Develop an understanding of gender issues in Iranian films

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