Abbas Kiraostami planted Iran firmly on the map of world cinema when he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival in 1997 for his film A Taste of Cherry. Here the growing reputation of Iranian cinema from its origins in the films of Kimiai and Mehrjui, through the work of established directors such as Kiraostami, Beyzai and Bani-Etemad, to young filmmakers like Samira Makhmalbaf and Bahman Qobadi, who triumphed at the Cannes 2000 festival, is examined.

Dabashi employs interviews with directors, insightful commentary on individual films, an extensive filmography, and generous illustration to provide an indispensable guide to a little-studied cinematic genre. Unabashedly polemical, he dissects the idea of the oriental in western perceptions of Iranian cinema and details the way that film festivals and distribution in the west have shaped domestic output in Iran. He looks, too, at the particular difficulties faced by women film-makers in a country of Islamic orthodoxy, and the obstacles placed in the path of directors attempting to introduce dissident politics in their work.

“As a child, when I started to the mosque, I wanted to save humanity. When I was a little older, I wanted to save my country. Now, I think, I make filsm to save myself.” — Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the founder of Dreams of a Nation: A Palestinian Film Project, committed to the preservation and dissemination of Palestinian cinema. His Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema is also published by Verso.
July 2001

300 pages
30 b/w photos

ISBN-13: 1 85984 332 1
£15 / US$20 / CAN$30