Iranian Cinema: Before and After the Revolution; Three Documentaries

2 discs. 316+ min. In Engish & Persian w/English subtitles. Jamsheed Akrami, dist. by Kino Lorber, www.kinolorber.com. 2019. DVD UPC 738329234430. $29.95. Closed-captioned. FILM STUDY
In recent years, Iranian films have won acclaim abroad while dodging censorship and public indifference at home. This two-disc, four-part documentary traces Iranian film from its 1970s prerevolutionary period to the present day. Producers churn out 65-70 films annually, aided by a lack of competition, low costs, and a combination of private and government financing. Issuing permits for all levels of filmmaking, the government gets the last word, with strictures about themes, politics, and religion and details such as outlawing the display of women's hair and all physical contact between the sexes. Interviews with actors, directors, and critics, including the late Andrew Sarris, salute these post-revolutionary films for their moral quality of symbols, "layers and meanings," and humanistic desire to reconnect after years of turmoil and violence. The most compelling segment describes the complex and contradictory nature of censorship; directors know they are "living with limitations" and must self-censor in order to pursue their careers and avoid arrest.
VERDICT With plenty of revealing film clips, intelligent commentary, and surprisingly frank viewpoints from Iranian filmmakers.
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