Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution (2007)—Iran
This fascinating documentary begins on January 16, 1979 with hundreds of thousands of Iranian demonstrators shouting "death to the Shah!" as the megalomaniac dictator was exiled from power, never to return again. The film then back tracks to the turn of the century and shows how Iranian cinema both shaped and reflected the major cultural trends of the last century — political ideology, socio-economic inequalities, censorship, propaganda, gender roles, westernizing impulses, the eight year war with Iraq that took a million lives, and especially the triumphal return after fifteen years in exile of Ayatollah Khomeni, who replaced the secular modernizing monarchy of the Shah with a religious revolution and Islamic republic. Under Khomeni "cinemas were considered unholy places, like brothels." In the nine months after his rise to power 125 theaters were closed or burned. The film draws upon long clips from dozens of Iranian films, interviews with directors and film critics, and archival film footage of major moments in Iranian history (eg, the November 1979 hostage crisis that lasted 444 days). In English narration and Farsi with English sub-titles.