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Wed 25 Jul 2012, 5:30pm
Wed 25 Jul 2012, 8:00pm

Where: Downtown Cinemas, 70 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Waged membership: $85.00
  • Unwaged membership: $70.00
  • Triple feature card: $30.00
  • High school student: $30.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Listed by: Ross Stevenson

Directed by Kamran Shirdel
Iran, 1965-2002, 101 mins

This retrospective is the New Zealand premiere of five short films from Kamran Shirdel, one of the pioneers of the social-documentary in Iranian cinema.

Tehran Is the Capital of Iran (1966-79, 18 mins) documents life in a deprived district in the south of Tehran. Women’s Prison (1965, 11 mins) follows the lives of several prisoners and the problems their families encounter in cinema vérité style. The Women’s Quarter (1966-80, 18 mins) looks into the lives of prostitutes from Tehran’s city brothels, an area known as Shahre Now. The Night it Rained (1967-74, 35 mins) documents the way a young boy’s heroism is subverted by all those around him. Solitude Opus (2001-02, 19 mins) finds us on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf where a man in his 80s still guards a long abolished solar energy complex.

After graduating from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (CSC) in Rome in 1965 Shirdel returned to Tehran and started directing documentaries for the Ministry of Culture and Art. Over the next three years he directed his most renowned socio-political documentaries, six films that courageously and frankly revealed the darker side of Iran's economic boom, analysing the effects of a society flush with oil money.

These films were steeped in a deep social consciousness reminiscent of the best of the Italian Neo-realist tradition, the cinema that had influenced him deeply during his studies in Italy. Shirdel's furious documentaries and cinematic language were a bone of contention both under the Shah and following his exile, because they spoke up for the underprivileged and, in doing so, exposed and criticised the corruption of the mechanism of power.

Because of the severe censorship, nearly all his films were banned and confiscated, and in the end he was expelled from The Ministry and put on the blacklist. His first (and, to date, only complete) feature film, The Morning of the Fourth Day (1972), a remake of Jean-Luc Godard's A bout de soufflé, won a few awards at the Sepas National Film Festival. Three years later his second feature film The Camera, based upon Nikolai Gogol's General Inspector, was censored while still shooting and thus remains unfinished.

This is a rare chance to see Shirdel's famed and banned-in-Iran films.

Did you know?
Every year, the IDFA, International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam, gives an acclaimed filmmaker the chance to screen his or her personal Top 10 favourite films. In 2007, filmmaker Maziar Bahari selected Kamran Shirdel's The Night It Rained for his top ten classics from the history of documentary.

Screenings 5.30pm and 8pm at Downtown Cinemas.

Members only. Palmerston North Film Society Membership is available at the door before each screening and lasts for one full year.

Restaurants to book near PNFS: A Kamran Shirdel Retrospective