Iranian cinema has close connections to the 1979 Islamic revolution. Ayatollah Khomeini , explicitly pointed to the uses of cinema for religious and revolutionary...

Iranian cinema has close connections to the 1979 Islamic revolution. Ayatollah Khomeini , explicitly pointed to the uses of cinema for religious and revolutionary political purposes. But Iranian films and the means of film production gradually changed in the post-Khomeini period. In Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic (Columbia University Press, 2016), Blake Atwood, Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, explores the trajectories of Iranian cinema within the transforming cultural and political landscapes of the 1990s. Many of these changes were fostered by the leader of the Reformist Movement and then Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami. Atwood explores documentary and narrative films, political speeches, and institutional policies to determine how reform cinema shaped public opinion, social practices, and political sensibilities. During this period, there are observable changes in industrial and aesthetic cinematic practices that solidify into many of the characteristic features of Iranian film. In our conversation we discuss reform politics, spectatorship, new political opportunities for filmmakers, famous directors such as Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Abbas Kiarostami, campaign films, technological changes and video, documentaries, popular Filmfārsi, Iran’s Cinema Museum, and the legacy of reform cinema today.


Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha. His research and teaching interests include Theory and Methodology in the Study of Religion, Islamic Studies, Chinese Religions, Human Rights, and Media Studies. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at kjpetersen@unomaha.edu.

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