SOAS University of London

Centre for Iranian Studies

The Myth of Bastoor and The Children of Iranian Independent Cinema

Farshad Zahedi, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Date: 19 February 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 19 February 2014Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture

Zahedi's talk is based on his study of the image of children and adolescents in Iranian independent cinema since the late sixties. The image of children and adolescents is found in the works of directors of the movement known as New Iranian Cinema amongst whose members Abbas Kiarostami is the best-known figure in the West. Zahedi will attempt to show the symmetrical relationship between the image of children and adolescents and the prolific image of the wise child that exists in Persian mythology and literature. The wise child appears in the times of crisis, when the logic of the elderly, based on patriarchal experience and control, is unable to solve a social problem, and all lines of communication and dialogue between the people and opponents - either as an external threat or as a tyrant ruler - have reached an impasse.

In cinema, this myth appears at the critical moment of Iranians' contact with modernity, and becomes the protagonist in a number of Iranian movies in a certain social-historical context. In perfect antagonism with the image of adults in popular cinema, the child in New Iranian Cinema films builds a
perfect microcosmic relationship with social reality, an allegorical image of a society in a deep identity crisis.

The idea of the myth of the wise child can be traced back to ancient Persian texts such as the Avesta and Shahnameh, to which the errant child's presence in modern texts and particularly in the work of independent Iranian filmmakers may be attributed. To this regard, after an introduction to the
development of the idea of the wise child in Iranian literature, Zahedi will look back to the seventies and identify the roots of the child characters in the works of directors such as Kiarostami, Beyzai and Naderi and the inception of Kanon Parvaresh Fekri Kudakan va Nowjavanan and the emergence of a renewed interest in the figure of the child.

The chronological framework of Zahedi's study leads us to the wandering children of Iranian cinema after revolution, when it was felt that an asexual figure was needed in the context of the new socio-cultural circumstances. At the same time, the "wise child movies" presented at international festivals in the mid-eighties were gradually becoming an identifying characteristic of Iranian cinema. In his study, Zahedi finally reflects on how, in this period of time, the archetypical errant-wise child,
reappears in the work of a new generation of filmmakers, such as Panahi and Ghobadi, and is gradually transformed by the late nineties to embody the figure of dissatisfied youth.

Chair: Saeed Zeydabadi-Nejad, SOAS

Organiser: Centre for Iranian Studies

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