3 March, 2017 |
The Nights of Zayandeh-rood, by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, was smuggled out of Iran and will be screened in London
A film by one of Iran’s most prominent film-makers is due to be released for the first time 26 years after it was made, after the director retrieved censored rushes from an Iranian censors’ office.
The Nights of Zayandeh-rood, by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, follows the story of an anthropologist and his daughter in Iran before, during and after the 1979 Islamic revolution and caused huge controversy in Iran after its production in 1990, earning the filmmaker death threats.
Now the film has been smuggled out of Iran and restored by Makhmalbaf, who is currently living in exile in London. “I succeeded in stealing it but I can’t possibly give more details about how it was done,” he told the Guardian.
Curzon Bloomsbury, which will screen the film in London on Saturday, said: “It’s a miracle it got made in the first place and that it still exists, albeit in a fragmentary form.”
According to Makhmalbaf, “some waited through the whole night until morning to be able to get into the theatre to watch the film”.
Makhmalbaf describes suicide as a major theme; a metaphor for a nation losing hope. “I questioned the hope that people had in the revolution, I also questioned the people themselves, that they were reproducing tyranny.”
The film was never given a public release and was later banned after the supreme leader allegedly watched it, prompting the censors to confiscate a further 12 minutes of film.
“They said it’s a critique of Islam, of the political system and the revolution,” Makhmalbaf said before the London screening. “They accused me of insulting the families of the martyrs and taking away people’s hope about the revolution.”
Makhmalbaf said though many scenes were removed he was surprised to see that the main structure remained unharmed when he re-watched the film recently.
“The film looked like a living thing with no limbs but it was still breathing and its story and meaning wasn’t lost,” he said.
Makhmalbaf, a star of Iran’s post-revolutionary cinema, is the director of internationally acclaimed works including Gabbeh (1995), The Cyclist (1987) and Kandahar (2001).
Unlike The Nights of Zayandeh-rood, most of his films have been shown widely in Iran, but in 2009 he became a persona non grata due to his support for the opposition Green movement.
He was also the subject of a film by fellow director and Palme d’Or winner Abbas Kiarostami, a giant of Iranian cinema who died in July 2016.
The 1990 docu-fiction Close-Up centres on the trial of a man who impersonated Makhmalbaf, Hossein Sabzian, who conned a family into believing they would star in his new film. It features the people involved, acting as themselves.
Cinema has flourished in Iran since the 1979 revolution, due to its ability to represent people’s lives more freely than the even more stricly censured TV station, Makhmalbaf said.
“Cinema became a mirror for Iranians to see a more real reflection of who they are,” he said. “Before the revolution, the opposition was being expressed through poetry, after the revolution, it is being expressed in cinema.”
The film is released on Curzon Home Cinema today.
Source of news: The Guardian , 3 March 2017