‘The Long Excuse’ :: Review
Writer-director Miwa Nishikawa’s somber reflection on the strains of marriage and parenthood is punctuated with beautiful existential undertones. Centered on liars and swindlers — self-deception is the theme of..
Putin: A Russian Spy Story :: TV Series (2020)
An exploration of how Vladimir Putin deployed his knowledge of spy-craft as a politician, and how modern Russia evolved through an acute sense of betrayal, pride and anger..
‘Driveways’ :: Review
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The modest story of a mother, her son and an elderly neighbor feels like a salve right now—and gives Brian Dennehy a deserving swan song. Understated yet powerful..
Spreading Propaganda Through Films and TV
Intelligence agencies in Iran are increasingly using state-funded entertainment productions to spread state propaganda and improve their image among the public..
'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade' :: Clever and Chilling Anime
In an authoritarian Japan, Fuse, part of an anti-terrorist police brigade, faces an internal enquiry. On a recent operation he hesitated to kill a female terrorist because of her youth..
Golden Globe Winners 2021 ::
'Nomadland' director Chloé Zhao won Best Director, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to take home that award, while the film itself won Best Motion – Picture Drama; Soul, Borat, The Queen's Gambit..
'How Fernando Pessoa Saved Portugal' :: Eugène Green
For years Portugal was the only country in Europe where there was no Coca-Cola. The director discusses his new "mini-film," devoted to the great Portuguese poet, advertising..
Copenhagen 2021 :: Vinterberg's 'Druk' snatches Five Robert Statuettes
In the category, Vinterberg was, among other things, up against himself, as he was also nominated for his role in the film “Riders..
Zindagi Tamasha :: Circus of Life :: 2020
‘It went from love to wanting to kill me.’ Sarmad Khoosat was the darling of Pakistan’s entertainment industry until his new film fell foul of fundamentalists – who called for him..
'No Choice' :: Tokyo 2020
It’s a slippery path up the mountain of human rights. Three good women clash when a determined lawyer takes on the case of a homeless girl against an idealistic doctor in Reza Dormishian’s legal thriller..
'Wife of a Spy' :: An intriguing marital battle
Winner of the best director award at the Venice Film Festival. An absorbing, exotic, well-paced thriller with moments of disconcerting realism and horror. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s..
"Actress's Ears" Put Film Screening in Jeopardy
Panthea Bahram, a famous Iranian actress, whose presence last year with shaved head at the press conference to a movie made news; reacted to the removal of "Killer and..
'Hope Gap' :: A Bracingly Original Drama
There's an unusual calmness to this drama that feels bracingly original. William Nicholson's Hope Gap benefits from a starry cast in the stagey story. Nighy and Bening are as good..
'Killer and Wild' removed from the Fajr Film Festival
A movie with Iranian actress Leila Hatami in the leading role was excluded from a major Film Festival event in Iran due to her 'shaved head and exposed ears' ..
Maria is a Greek policewoman, struggling with her money problems, teenage daughter, old mother.. Yussof is a Syrian rebel, on his way out of a war-ridden Syria. Both have killed unwantedly, both feel guilty, but together..
51st Edition Of IFFI 2021
The 51st edition of India’s International Film Festival (IFFI) kick started on 16th January at Goa, which opened with the Indian premier of the movie ‘Another Round’ by Thomas Vinterberg..
'Alone' :: Movie Review
"Alone" is admirably straightforward, exploring tried-and-true archetypes with suspenseful execution. Director John Hyams demonstrates a minimalistic knack for showing and not telling,..
'The Female Voice of Iran' :: Feature documentary 2020
Independent documentary about female singers inside Iran and their deep wish: "I want my voice to be heard." Captivating...beautiful music and stunning..
'The Father' :: Movie Review
Sundance: Florian Zeller's film makes an inexplicably cruel element of the human condition recognizable in a way that only good art can. Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman Inside the Brutal Matrix of Dementia..
‘Money Heist’ :: As smart as it is relentless
Like a criminal who has trapped themselves within a situation in which there’s no simple escape, Money Heist is a riveting, inescapable show with a narrative jackpot at the end of it..
‘Vivos’ :: Ai Weiwei's Mournful Ode to the Disappeared
Vivos is a documentary feature film by artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, portraying the human impact of Mexico’s ongoing crisis of enforced disappearances..
Family Romance, LLC (2020)
Love is a business at Family Romance, a company that rents human stand-ins for any occasion. Founder Yuichi Ishii helps make his clients’ dreams come true. But when the mother of 12-year-old Mahiro hires Ishii to..
'Let Him Go' (2020)
Kevin Costner excels in a gripping neo-western thriller. Let Him Go is a moving and gripping Western with particularly strong performances from Diane Lane as a grieving yet resolute mother and from Lesley Manville as her..
In Memoriam of Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk
In the small pool of filmmakers known for being provocative, Kim Ki-duk was the oddest of ducks. South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk has died in Latvia aged 59 after contracting..
'The Life Ahead' (2020)
Loren has made it again! She's an absolute Goddess. The characters are colorful and empathetic, and even if the plot is simple, the cast keeps it up. Specially, Sophia Loren.. Sempre adorabile!
'What We Did on Our Holiday'
An exceedingly funny comedy that definitely borders on Black Comedy but still tinkers in the realm of being light hearted. It has a very kind of Outnumbered feel to it in which the kids play their innocence, yet brilliantly..
'Radiograph of a Family'
Iranian director Firouzeh Khosrovani triumphed at IDFA 2020 with her fourth film Radiograph of a Family, winning the main award in the IDFA Competition for Feature Length Documentary and the IDFA Competition for Creative Use of..
'Falling' :: Viggo Mortensen's Directorial Debut
A beautifully controlled drama about age, memory and forgiveness. Often abrasive, occasionally sweet, and sometimes grasping for transcendence, "Falling" doesn't feel like..
'Careless Crime' (2020) :: Movie Review
Iranian director Shahram Mokri, known for his single-shot films and his decided penchant for time-loops, achieves formalistic excellence in his latest effort..
Secrets of the Surface (2020)
Filmed in Canada, Iran, and the United States, 'Secrets of the Surface' examines the life and mathematical work of Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian immigrant to the United States who became a superstar in her field..
'Another Round' :: Review
Thomas Vinterberg reteams with "The Hunt" star for a darkly comic referendum on booze. Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in..
'There Is No Evil' :: Premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Fest
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof's 'There Is No Evil' has triumphed at the 70th Berlinale, picking up the Golden Bear. The director himself was not present..
'Tesla' :: Sundance Review
A fascinating, if unconventional, look at the singular life of Nikola Tesla as played by Ethan Hawke. Appropriately bold and ambitious, Tesla takes a number of risks that don't always pay off -- but Ethan Hawke's performance..
Documenting the Struggle for Women's Rights in Iran
One of the women featured in this short documentary, Nasrin Sotoudeh is now serving a decades-long sentence in Evin Prison in Iran. Released alongside Jeff Kaufman's..
'Bacurau' :: A John Carpenter-Inspired Revenge Fantasy
A settlement in rural Brazil, a doctor (played by a gaunt and fierce Sônia Braga), a school, a (disused) church, even a brothel, but no sheriff. Something strange is happening..
TALE OF THE SEA :: Film Review
One of Iran's major filmmakers is at the top of his game with this Ingmar Bergman-esque meditation on old age. One man's madness as a metaphor for the surreal lives of a whole nation..
'Ordinary Love' :: There is nothing Ordinary about Love
"Ordinary Love" is not a movie solely about cancer. It is a raw, on-screen adaptation of what hundreds of couples experience when their limits are tested - physically, mentally..
13th Annual Iranian Film Festival :: San Francisco
Call For Entries Open for the 13th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran..
'1982' :: Premiered at TIFF :: 2019
During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at a private school on the outskirts of Beirut, 11-year-old Wissam tries to tell a classmate about his crush on her..
'The Perfect Candidate' :: Haifaa al-Mansour :: 2019
For Haifaa al-Mansour, it's an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by courageous women like her. A message movie admirable for its subtlety as well as its execution..
'The Truth :: La Vérité' :: 2019
At 76, Catherine Deneuve can still blow all-comers off a cinema screen, and she does exactly that in Hirokazu Kore-eda's Truth, which playfully explores the vexed relationship between..
'Paddleton' :: An Awkward Embrace With Fragile Masculinity
A drily ambling exploration of masculinity and overcoming self-imposed barriers. An unlikely bromance between two misfit neighbors..
'The Lunchbox (DABBA)' :: Cannes Review
Cinema loses giant Irrfan Khan to cancer and we take a look at the tenderness of his performance in The Lunchbox. It's carried off with charm and wit, and a pair of very..
'This Beautiful Fantastic' :: An Oddball Modern-Day Fairy Tale
A charming, beautifully photographed modern fairy tale about love and gardening, This Beautiful Fantastic is worth seeing in spite of its dumb deterrent of a title..
'Bombshell' :: #MeToo docudrama
Bombshell benefits from a terrific cast and a worthy subject, but its impact is muffled by a frustrating inability to go deeper than the sensationalistic surface..
'Just Mercy' :: Law Drama Inspired by True Events
Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, a steady directorial hand, and enough urgency to overcome a certain degree of earnest advocacy..
'Imitation of Life' :: A Melodramatic Torrent of Rage
Douglas Sirk unleashed a melodramatic torrent of rage at the corrupt core of American life - the unholy trinity of racism, commercialism, and puritanism..
'Adopt a Highway' :: Movie review
Logan Marshall-Green's directorial debut stars Ethan Hawke as a sweet ex-con who finds new purpose when he discovers a baby in a dumpster..
'Away':: A beautifully crafted minimalist adventure
Latvian filmmaker Gints Zilbalodis has written, animated, designed, edited, directed, and composed the music for his feature debut himself, with impressive results..
'Live Twice, Love Once' :: Movie review
An award-winner in Spain, 'Live Twice, Love Once' is a mature film that deals effectively with both family separation and reconciliation in sorrowful times..
A Writer Named Tove :: CPH:DOX 2020
A mosaic portrait of the Danish writer and poet Tove Ditlevsen. The self-confident and outspoken author, and the fragile woman behind the books..
'Arab Blues' :: An Entertaining Tunisian Culture-Clash Comedy
Mildly amusing froth, kept all the more buoyant by Farahani's deadpan reactions and immensely watchable face and fine comic..
'Donbass' :: Brutally powerful and brilliantly filmed
In its own absurdist way, it does shed some light on just what the war did to the lives - and sensibilities - of civilians caught up in the nightmare. It illustrates man's inhumanity..
The Flu That Killed 50 Million :: More Deadly Than War
In 1918, as the Armistice bells rang out across the world to celebrate the end of World War I, a silent killer made its way home with the soldiers - Spanish flu...
'Uzak' (Distant) :: The Art of Slow Cinema
Hauntingly beautiful, 'Distant' communicates volumes with its almost pervasive silence. Ceylan contrasts rich and poor, educated and uneducated. But the quest for love remains..
BERLINALE 2020 Awards :: Rasoulof's There Is No Evil triumphs at the Berlinale
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof's 'There Is No Evil' has triumphed at the 70th Berlinale, picking up the Golden Bear..
'The Sea Inside' :: Bardem is simply astounding
If ever there was a film that deserved to get the proverbial bump from Oscar, this is it. Rarely has any film so focused on death felt so vibrantly alive..
'PARI' :: Review :: BERLINALE 2020 Panorama
The debut feature by Siamak Etemadi, world-premiered in the Panorama section of the 70th Berlinale, depicts an Iranian mother's compelling journey in a foreign place..
'Wildland' :: Interview :: World premiere at the Berlinale
In 'Wildland', we follow a small family clan where love and violence become dangerously merged. In the interview, they talk about how they created the narrative, how they use..
Berlinale 2020 :: 11 films to look out for
Screen Daily picks out just a few of the stand-out titles playing at the event, from across the Competition, Berlinale Special, and Panorama sections..
Mahnaz Afshar :: 'Die Hochzeit'
The Iranian superstar Mahnaz Afshar was at the world premiere of the new Til Schweiger film "Die Hochzeit". She flew to Berlin for Schweiger and experienced a free wedding ceremony on the red carpet..
'RAAZI' :: Movie Review
Despite its shortcomings, Raazi has a lot going for it, especially its leading lady. If you are willing to suspend your imagination a bit, it can make for a fulfilling watch. The story of a Kashmiri spy married to a Pakistani man..
'The Two Popes' :: Movie Review
Superbly acted and a lot of fun to watch. Can two Catholic men share the Papacy without driving each other crazy? The Two Popes is a wonderful showcase of great acting..
As Lean experienced Khomeini's Arrival
Lean Waage Beck tells about her experiences as a sister-in-law to the revolutionary Foreign Minister of Iran. About the Iranian Revolution, also described in her book "Tehran Round-Trip"..
'Pain and Glory' :: Movie Review
The Spanish filmmaker's tale of a memory, regret and an aging director making peace with his past isn't just his most personal film — it's also one of his greatest..
SUNDANCE 2020 :: Massoud Bakhshi :: Interview
Iranian filmmaker Massoud Bakhshi discusses Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness, a majority European production recognised in Sundance and on its way to the Berlinale..
Oscars 2020 :: 'Parasite' wins in four categories
For the first time in history of the Oscars Parasite, an international film, Wins in four categories. Parasite, a South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho..
SUNDANCE 2020 :: 'Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness'
The future of a young woman facing retributive justice plays out live on the country's most popular reality show..
'Reaching for the Moon' :: 'The art of losing isn't hard to master'
An exotic love story becomes an empowering portrait of two highly gifted women who defy social convention. The life of American Poet..
'Things to Come' :: A Rare, Mature film of Ideas
Visually arresting, but never precious, it's filled with ideas that have relevance to actual life, ideas that are based on a moral conviction that a question well-posed is far more..
'Madame' :: A cute inversion of the Cinderella tale
Madame's retrograde trappings are further weighted down by unlikable characters and an overall inability to do justice to its themes. Rossy de Palma, a past muse of Spanish..
'FURIE' :: Don't Make a Vietnamese Mother Mad
When a little girl is kidnapped by a trafficking ring, her mother, a notorious former gang leader, is close on their trail and will go to any lengths to bring her child home..
'What They Had' :: A stunning feature debut
What They Had finds laughter and tears in its portrait of a family at a crossroads, with writer-director Elizabeth Chomko getting outstanding performances out of a talented..
'Marriage Story' :: Reaching for life after the death of divorce
Johansson and Driver are remarkably, heartbreakingly good in every scene; showing their characters' journeys to an unflinching camera, , letting the gap between them..
The Tale :: HBO's Most Controversial Movie Ever?
The Tale handles its extraordinarily challenging subject matter with sensitivity, grace, and the power of some standout performances led by a remarkable Laura Dern..
Bille August :: To direct psychological drama The Pact
The new feature by the Danish filmmaker centres on the secret relationship between Karen Blixen and young poet Thorkild Bjørnvig..
'Hotel by the River' :: Movie Review
Feeling, for no apparent reason, like he is going to die, an old poet, staying for free in a riverside hotel, summons his two estranged sons..
'The Irishman' :: Movie Review
Scorsese's expert direction allows the three and a half hour runtime to fly by. In fact, as soon as it's over you'll want to experience this achievement all over again..
Payman Maadi :: To receive the Stockholm Achievement Award
Iranian actor Payman Maadi will be awarded the 2019 Stockholm Achievement Award for his unique quality of reaching through the screen, past prejudices and over borders..
Long Day's Journey Into Night (2018)
Time moves differently in "Long Day's Journey Into Night," a sensuous, dream-like Chinese drama set in and around the Southeast mainland city of Kaili..
Written on the Wind :: A Masterpiece Of Self-Parody
Douglas Sirk is the one who established the kind of tone in melodramas, in which shocking behavior is treated with passionate solemnity, while parody burbles beneath...
VENICE 2019 :: Out of Competition :: 'ZeroZeroZero'
Gabriel Byrne plays Edward Lynwood, an important shipbroker from New Orleans who hides tonne-loads of cocaine in the hundreds of containers he moves between the New..
Venice Film Festival 2019 :: Polanski wins Silver Lion
Roman Polanski has won the Grand Jury Prize for 'An Officer and a Spy'. He did not attend the festival and the prize was instead collected by his wife Emmanuelle Seigner, who stars in..
Venice Film Festival 2019 :: 'Joker' Wins Golden Lion
'Joker' Wins Venice Film Festival Golden Lion, Roman Polanski Gets Grand Jury Prize. The top prize of the Lido went to Todd Phillips' revisionist take on the DC comic villain..
The Souvenir :: Movie Review
Tom Burke and Honor Swinton Byrne appear in The Souvenir by Joanna Hogg, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival..
Filmmakers Escorted Rasoulof to the Revolutionary Court
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof went to the Revolutionary Court to appeal his sentence on Monday, with a group of filmmakers reportedly accompanying him..
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower :: 2017
Documentary about Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activist Joshua Wong. When the Chinese Communist Party backtracks on its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong, teenager Joshua..
'Astronaut' :: Film Review :: Edinburgh 2019
Richard Dreyfuss plays a grouchy grandfather with interstellar ambitions in writer-director Shelagh McLeod's debut feature. Even though he knows the mission could kill him..
Cannes, New York Film Festivals :: Calls for Release of Mohammad Rasoulof
Organizers of the Cannes Film Festival are calling on Iran to release dissident filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who was sentenced..
Bahman Mohasses ::
Fifi Howls From Happiness

Bahman Mohassess was a celebrated artist at the time of the Shah. Trained in Italy, he created sculptures and paintings in his homeland. Mitra Farahani's direction is..
ROBERT BRESSON :: Retrospective
Despite a relatively small body of work consisting of thirteen feature films made over forty years, Robert Bresson is one of the most revered and pivotal of French filmmakers..
Disconnect :: Movie Review
A complicated view of life in the Digital Age with its conflicts and relationships initiated through laptops, iPads and cell phones. People fall in love, exploit one another, reveal their deepest secrets and even commit..
Dictatorland :: Series 1 ::
1. Kazakhstan

From golden handprints of the president to the scene of a massacre, in Kazakhstan Ben Zand experiences the sinister and bizarre sides to living in a dictatorship..
“Travel to the Morning”
To commemorate Abbas Kiarostami at Tehran gallery
Tehran's E1 Gallery will organize an exhibition entitled “Travel to the Morning” in memory of legendary artist Abbas Kiarostami..
'Diego Maradona' (2019) :: Movie Review :: Cannes
A Gripping Saga of Soccer Legend's Fall From Grace. It's a dramatic shift, but only a starting point. "Amy" director Asif Kapadia's crafts an absorbing look at Maradona's epic journey..
How the Tiananmen Massacre Changed China forever
“There is a lesson the world could learn here, engagement as a policy is not wrong, but engagement… that obscures human rights is morally and politically wrong.”
A Love Letter to Caramel :: What happened to you Nadine Labaki?
I just finished watching Caramel on MUBI and, ladies and gentlemen, I am totally shocked. How on earth could I have misjudged this film?
Cannes 2019 :: Atlantics
Mati Diop's Dazzling Ghost Story
Mati Diop's feature-length directorial debut is a romantic and melancholy film, part social commentary, part ghost tale, that works best in its evocation of loss and female solidarity..
First Reformed :: Review
A Stunning, Enrapturing Film

Paul Schrader's “First Reformed,” in which Ethan Hawke brilliantly plays an alcoholic Protestant minister undergoing a profound spiritual and psychological crisis, is..
CANNES 2019 :: Competition
Antonio Banderas :: Pain & Glory
Antonio Banderas wins Cannes 'best actor' as Almodovar alter ego. Cineuropa met Spanish thesp Antonio Banderas to discuss Pedro Almodóvar's Pain & Glory..
CANNES 2019 :: Competition
Elia Suleiman :: It Must Be Heaven

Cineuropa sat down with Palestinian director Elia Suleiman to delve deeper into his Palme d'Or contender It Must Be Heaven. Elia Suleiman travels to different cities and finds..
Cannes 2019 :: Winners List
Bong Joon-ho Wins Palme d'Or
Alejandro González Iñárritu and his jury has announced the festival's best performances and films.The 2019 Cannes Film Festival officially comes to an end..
CANNES 2019 :: Sylvester Stallone :: Cannes Darling
Stallone was at the festival to promote "Rambo V: Last Blood" opening this fall. But the conversation, moderated by the journalist Didier Allouch, was mainly a look back at his..
CANNES 2019 :: Critics' Week :: Cesar Diaz :: Our Mothers
"Once we've all finished killing each other, what do we do with our dead? How do we heal our wounds? We need to take a look at the scars of our past. It has to start with..
Sorrentino's Youth (2015)
A Meditation on Art and Aging

Watching Youth, you'd swear Fellini had risen from his grave and returned to make another movie. Give it up for Michael Caine and Jane Fonda in this autumn-years drama that's an..
Cannes 2019 :: Nadine Labaki
President of the Un Certain Regard Jury at the 72nd Annual Cannes Film Festival, the director, actress and screenwriter Nadine Labaki's career was first launched on the Croisette, and it is here that all her films..
Cannes 2019
Refn's "Too Old To Die Young"

After world premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, the television series will hit Amazon Prime Video this summer. A detective thriller from film provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn..
Nancy (2018) :: Review
This is a movie whose behind-the-camera creative team is almost entirely female. In several respects, “Nancy” exhibits a seriousness of purpose that's rare in American movies today..
'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'
Melissa McCarthy is a lock for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of Lee Israel, a lonely, embittered author of celebrity biographies who took up forgery to pay the bills..
BIF&ST 2019 :: Ali Vatansever :: Director of Saf
How do you stay human in a difficult place, when you're surrounded by monsters? How do you manage to stay pure when the world obliges you to take one side or the other?
'Never Look Away' :: Review
Germany's submission for the Best Foreign-Language Oscar turns a Gerald Richter-like painter into a symbol of social change. 'Never Look Away' concerns itself with love and war and the limitless reach of art..
Fernando Colomo :: La Banda Picasso (2013)
Filmed in French and set principally in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, La banda Picasso is a caper comedy about a burglary that is based on real characters and events..
Sundance Review :: 'Queen Of Hearts' (2019)
An intriguing, smartly sustained drama in which we learn to be wary of those who claim the moral high ground. Things are never going to end well in Queen Of Hearts, which follows a..
Rotterdam Review :: 'Sons Of Denmark' (2019)
This political thriller has shades of traditional tragedy and revolves around the question: How do you stay calm when society succumbs to fear and hate?..
CANNES 2019 Opening
Cannes to be opened by 'The Dead Don't Die'

The film by US director Jim Jarmusch will raise the curtain on the 72nd Cannes Film Festival (14-25 May) and will be screened in..
Review: The Wind. A Documentary Thriller

Michał Bielawski's fourth feature-length documentary about a mysterious and destructive wind is a real tour de force..
'Born in Evin' :: Processing the trauma of the Islamic Revolution
Born in Evin tells the story of the family of director and actor Maryam Zaree, who sets out to investigate the circumstances of her birth in one of the world's most notorious jails for..
'All the Money in the World'
Replacing Kevin Spacey in true-life kidnap thriller 'All the Money in the World,' Christopher Plummer plays tycoon John Paul Getty "with acid humor, stunted emotion and magisterial skill," writes Peter Travers..
'The Wild Pear Tree' :: A study of the conversational art
Whereas 'Winter Sleep' played like a journey into the darker corners of a troubled brain, 'The Wild Pear Tree' spends as much time being playful as it does cogitating on the great..
'The Bookshop' :: Review
The script may stutter but the cast - especially Mortimer and Nighy - hold this uneven project together. And Clarkson is but one of a legion of baddies to enjoy loathing. A free-spirited widow arrives in a whispering community..
'3 FACES' by JAFAR PANAHI :: at the Irish Film Institute
Iranian film '3 Faces' by Jafar Panahi is among three new films open at the Irish Film Institute on the 29th of March 2019: Irish documentary 'The Man Who Wanted to Fly,' drama..
CPH:DOX 2019 :: Marie Skovgaard's The Reformist
Marie Skovgaard's fascination with the woman behind Europe's first mosque run by female imams is contagious. The opening title of this year's edition of CPH:DOX (20-31 March)..
'Beautiful Boy' :: Review
Beautiful Boy, made through Brad Pitt's production company Plan B, is a moving, insightful and very delicately observed drama about a dad whose son is a crystal meth addict. Carell gives his finest performance..
"I DO Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians"
[The film] makes clear that you can have all the right answers, but they hardly matter when you're missing the questions and in fact aren't even having the same conversation..
'The Eyes of Orson Welles'
Mark Cousins' extraordinary, singular, complex take on a man who gave us Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil, some of the most baroque screen adaptations of the Bard ever made..
Under the Tree (2018)
:: Movie Review

What makes 'Under the Tree' a better-than-average satire on the unthinking hostilities that human beings are prone to is its steady intelligence, combined with a humor ..
'Before We Vanish' (2018) :: Movie Review
What happens to people when they're no longer sure of their character-defining obligations? We get it, we are prisoners of our beliefs. What now?..
They Shall Not Grow Old :: Movie Review
In this profound documentary event, Peter Jackson creates digital miracles-in 3D yet-to revitalize archival footage of World War I until faded history comes to vivid, vital life..
'Capernaum' :: Movie Review
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki's Capernaum ("Chaos") tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the "crime" of giving him life..
The Kindergarten Teacher
:: Movie Review

Elevated by a bravura performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Kindergarten Teacher is one American remake that retains its impact the second time around..
'Synonyms' :: Movie Review'
Nadav Lapid's astonishing, maddening, brilliant, hilarious, obstinate, and altogether unmissable new film “Synonyms” opens with a sequence that might be described as a sideways attempt at psychic suicide..
BERLIN 2019 :: Competition
Roberto Saviano :: Author
Cineuropa met up with Italian author Roberto Saviano to discuss Piranhas, the newest adaptation of one of his novels. 'The more they want me to keep silent, the more I talk'..
'At Eternity's Gate' :: Review
There have been plenty of films about the tortured Dutch artist, but none as evocative and affecting as Julian Schnabel's latest, led by mesmerizing work from Willem Dafoe in the central role..
Shoplifters (2018) :: Review
“Shoplifters” is full of gray areas. What exactly does family mean? Does giving birth to someone automatically make you a mother? One of Kore-eda's most nuanced, layered examinations of the concept..
Hollywood's DiCaprio
has voiced his support for jailed Iranian environmentalists

In a tweet on February 6, DiCaprio calls for support for the eight Iranian detainees who went on trial last month, some facing serious..
BERLIN 2019 :: Lone Scherfig's film to open the Berlinale
The 69th Berlin International Film Festival has announced its opening film. The world premiere of Lone Scherfig's latest English-language film The Kindness of Strangers will..
The Panama Papers (2018)
The Panama Papers is a lively and level-headed exposé, but it's also a moral inquiry into how the top echelon is now united, structurally and spiritually, in robbing the rest of us blind..
Becoming Astrid :: Review
This film about an exemplary woman, made by women, is as much a pleasure as it is a lesson. A story that shows how overcoming turns to becoming if you're able to stick to your principles..
Gifted :: Movie Review
A man tries to raise the brilliant young daughter of his dead sister, but battles his mother over custody. Gifted isn't quite as bright as its pint-sized protagonist, but a charming cast wrings respectably engaging..
The Wife :: Movie Review
In Swedish director Bjorn Runge's film version of the 2003 Meg Wolitzer novel, the brilliant Glenn Close plays Joan Castleman, the wife of celebrated author Joe Castleman..
The Hours :: Movie Review
Three women, three times, three places. Three suicide attempts, two successful. All linked in a way by a novel. In Sussex in 1941, the novelist Virginia Woolf fills the pockets of her coat with rocks and walks into a river to..
Juliette Binoche Will Head The 2019 Berlinale Int. Jury
With French actress and Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche serving as Jury President, the International Jury will decide who will receive the Golden Bear and Silver..
Collette (2018)
Formally familiar but a brilliant match for its lead, Colette is a thoroughly entertaining biopic and an overdue testament to Keira Knightley's underrated gifts..
Julia (1977) :: Movie Review
Fascinating, well structured drama with Fonda and Redgrave at their best. "Julia" is the story of a fascinating woman, told from the point of view of someone who hardly knew her..
'Bad Times at the El Royale' Movie review
A piece of major studio entertainment so patient, artful, and thrilling that it might as well be a time machine to the mid-'90s...
'Bird Box' Review :: Susanne Bier's inventive drama
A welcome addition to the post-apocalyptic canon. If ever you find yourself trying to survive the end of the world, don't look to Malorie for an inspiring pep talk..
Claude Lelouch pays a final tribute to Francis Lai
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Vossoughi, Behrouz

Vossoughi, Behrouz

Birth name
Khalil Vossoughi
Date of Birth
     1937, Khoy, West Azarbaijan, Iran

Behrouz Vossoughi (1937, Khoy, West Azarbaijan, Iran)

Behrouz Vossoughi, born as Khalil Vossoughi 1937 in Khoy, West Azarbaijan, Iran, is an Iranian actor.

He started acting in films with Samuel Khachikian's Toofan dar shahr-e ma. He has over 40 years of experience in the motion picture industry, with featured appearances in more than 90 films.

His work has earned him recognition at several international film festivals. Vossoughi has also worked in television, radio, and theater.

YEARS GRAND prize at the San Francisco International Film Festival, the prestigious Akira Kurosawa lifetime achievement award, was slated to go to Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami and it nearly did.

But on being handed the trophy, the renowned director graciously announced he was accepting it instead on behalf of an exiled Iranian actor seated in the audience, Behrouz Vossoughi.

The explosion of applause from the largely Iranian audience masked the consternation that must have struck everyone else.

Abbas Kiarostami, universally acknowledged as one of the worlds best filmmakers, is also among the first of a growing number of Iranian directors whose international acclaim has brought attention to Iran as one of the more fertile grounds for filmmaking anywhere. No one disputes his importance.
 But who is Behrouz Vossoughi?

Amid the applause, a handsome, dark-haired man, 50ish, in a black jacket and red tie, ascended the stage and approached the podium as Kiarostamis interpreter explained to the Farsi-impaired: This is an award for all the years hes worked in the cinema in Iran, and all the years hes awaited work here in this country. And I look forward to his return to the cinema.

The name may be unfamiliar to the rest of us, but Behrouz Vossoughi is synonymous with cinema and stardom to Iranians the world over.

More than a celebrated actor, this years S.F. International Film Festival Unvanquished honoree was one of prerevolutionary Irans biggest pop icons, a box-office Bruce Willis with the acting chops of a De Niro or Brando.

Hed already set the standard for tough-guy roles before becoming central to the Iranian neorealist new wave of the 70s.

Paired for a time, on-screen and in real life, with Googoosh the glamorous Iranian diva whose recent stadium-filling tour of the United States marked a return from 22 years of government-enforced seclusion Behrouz Vossoughi represented all the sophistication, style, and success of modern, urban Iran.

He was gossiped about in the papers and invited to parties at the Royal Court. The nation got to know him on a first-name basis. Even his hairstyle in Ghaisar the pivotal Iranian new wave film set a national trend, compelling Irans barbers to advertise a Ghaisari for any man who wanted one. You could not get bigger than Behrouz.

 That was before he came to the United States. Arriving in 1978 as a visitor, shortly before the Iranian Revolution toppled the Pahlavi monarchy and led to Ayatollah Khomeinis Islamic Republic, Vossoughi ended up joining an unparalleled wave of immigration to the United States from Iran.

As the new regime came to power, it became clear to Vossoughi that he would be blacklisted if he returned to his country. He found himself indefinitely stranded in Los Angeles, relegated to an inconstant series of television bit parts and stereotyped roles in B movies.

1991s video-store vehicle, Terror in Beverly Hills, may have been the nadir of a difficult career in the United States: Vossoughi played the dreaded Middle Eastern terrorist who, in this case, kidnaps the presidents daughter.

His life has since followed the trajectory of the larger group of migrs seeking refuge in the United States, among Americans who, for years, were too ready to equate all Iranians with the demonized government they were fleeing.

Trapped within and between the politics of two nations, Behrouz Vossoughi has been living a double exile not just from his homeland, but from the cinema.

 New wave, Iranian style

One hundred and eighty of Irans 400 movie houses were burned down between 1978 and 1979, the years Vossoughi began his stay in the United States, but it wasnt the first or only time film has come under fire there.

You could say Iran has always been ambivalent toward its cinema, which has been alternately beloved and reviled by the government and its opponents alike. A shah of the Qajar dynasty introduced film to Iran in 1900. But technical and economic limitations hindered the growth of a national film industry until the 1930s.

Cinema also carried the taint of Western cultural influence, a sore point for many Iranian nationalists. Muslim religious leaders labeled the early films and theaters immoral. Mobs, goaded by religious disapproval, attacked the first movie houses.

As mass opposition to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi mounted in the late 1970s, crowds of demonstrators again torched movie theaters, along with banks and liquor stores, as symbols of Western-backed oppression.

 But film was incredibly attractive to a state bent on modernization and control. It had the potential to reach the majority of a disparate and largely illiterate population.

In the years after World War II, with the support of both the Iranian and American governments, entrepreneurs gradually made movies the entertainment of the masses.

Later, under the Ministry of Culture and Art, the Iranian state cultivated avant-garde film as part of a bourgeois cultural policy meant to bolster the governments prestige abroad and thereby maintain its authority at home.

It was in both the film of mass entertainment and this new art-house cinema that Behrouz Vossoughi made his name.

 Vossoughi, the oldest of five sons, was born in a small Azerbaijani town in 1938 but raised in Tehran. As he described it to me in an interview near his home in Sausalito, his early attraction to acting made the decision to become an actor a simple one.

Telling his parents was another matter. His father, like other very religious men in 1950s Iran, did not go to the cinema.

So Vossoughi kept his career a secret for as long as possible. When his father heard his sons name mentioned among the cast of a radio drama, he lied. I tried to explain to him, there are a lot of Behrouz Vossoughis.

 Vossoughi got work dubbing films (a big business, since, owing to technical limitations, all Iranian films were dubbed). The job required carefully watching the same sequence over and over, and Vossoughi found it good training. He landed his first film role with The Hundred-Kilo Groom (1961), and was an immediate hit.

As a darkly romantic leading man, he made a series of adventure films and romances before the end of the decade, winning his fathers approval along the way, and became so big a star that Tehrans producers colluded to cap his salary. Vossoughi felt limited, however, and by more than the opposition of the producers. It was not just a question of money.

Irans popular cinema made mostly singing and dancing entertainments, crude comedies, and treacly romances designed for mass consumption by the new urban working class. To Vossoughi, such roles no longer presented any challenge and seemed a dead end.

I wanted to have a revolution in my career; I didnt want the same career that everybody had in the cinema in Iran.

 His revolution came in 1969 with Ghaisar (Caesar), a film independently produced by Vossoughi and writer-director Masoud Kimiai, later a prominent new wave filmmaker.

Based on actual Tehran police reports passed to Kimiai by a cousin in the force, the film concerned a Tehrani jahel (tough guy) who avenges the deaths of his sister and brother at the hands of a local crime ring.

The revenge plot may not have been new, but the realistic setting in Tehrans poorest neighborhoods, together with a tragic ending for the hero, helped make Ghaisar a bold departure from the typical formula. When [Kimiai] told me the story of Ghaisar, I saw something different, Vossoughi remembers. And I was right; I was really right.

 Ghaisar ended up being one of two films that inaugurated the Iranian new wave in 1969. The other was Gav (The Cow), by Dariush Mehrjui, about a peasant driven mad by the death of his only cow.

Drawing on techniques and themes of the French new wave and Italian neorealism, Ghaisar and Gav debuted a gritty realism that took as its subject ordinary, often desperate people suffering tragic ends in a corrupt world.

The political implications were clear. Ghaisar, which also drew inspiration from the American western, resurrected vigilante justice in the face of an ineffectual police and court system.

Gavs depiction of the futility of rural life belied the propaganda for the shahs agrarian reform policy and earned the film a government ban although, in a pattern that would be repeated under the Islamic Republic, Gavs critical success in Europe and the United States eventually convinced the authorities to allow it to be shown conditionally in Iran.

Sleek and sexy Ghaisar, meanwhile, was an unprecedented financial success at home, without the intervention of the foreign press. After a brief shelving and reediting by the censors for excessive violence, it became one of the highest-grossing films domestically in Iranian cinema history, and a new cinema was born.

Many among the new generation of filmmakers it gave rise to are making films today, including Kimiai, Mehrjui, Perviz Kimiavi, Bahman Farmanara, Bahram Beizai, and Kiarostami (who, nine years after designing the title sequences for Ghaisar, made his first feature film, Gozaresh, or The Report, in 1978).

 Irans new art cinema came to represent part of the larger culture of opposition to the Pahlavi regime. It channeled the pessimism of a new generation of artists and intellectuals chafing under a corrupt political order. Its critical success expanded the audience for Iranian film at home by wooing the Westernized, educated middle classes who had formerly ignored the national cinema in favor of European and American movies. And Behrouz Vossoughi, an innovative actor with box-office draw, contributed significantly to the bridging of this gap between popular and elite cultures.

The politics of abstraction

Vossoughi would continue to make popular films, but he was now also the darling of the new wave directors. This was a unique achievement, according to Jamsheed Akrami, whose documentary on Iranian cinema, Friendly Persuasion, is currently making the rounds at film festivals. He had the dual distinction of being a bankable star for commercial projects and a very capable and versatile actor for the new wave films, Akrami says. Behrouz would not shy away from taking chances in new wave films. He would alter his physique, wear heavy makeup, or even use [i.e., dub] his own voice in these films.

Vossoughi pushed himself to embody the most complex and disparate of characters, often spending months developing a role. In his own brand of method acting, the self-taught Vossoughi slept in a mental hospital for the character of Majid, the mentally handicapped protagonist of Sooteh Delan (Broken Hearts). His performance in Gavaznha (The Deer), perhaps his finest, came from research he did in disguise among drug addicts in the mean streets of South Tehran. From the beginning, I really wanted to be different, Vossoughi says. And I really wanted to challenge myself in creating a character. Gavaznha and Sooteh Delan, he adds, were written with him in mind. They would say, Behrouz, weve been working on this script for two years for you and just you if you dont play the part, we are not going to do this movie.

Ghaisars unqualified success meant Vossoughi was now powerful enough to dictate terms to the film producers and cinema owners. Now they came to me asking, What do you want? It was a very good question. But if he had his way with the producers, the government was another story.

Although treated publicly as a national treasure and wined and dined by the royals, behind the scenes his films, and others of the new wave, were frequently censored by the shahs Ministry of Arts and Culture. There was a special section of the Ministry of Culture, 12 people who would sit down and read the story and then stamp every page, which meant that nothing could be added or subtracted from the page. And when a movie was finished they watched it to see that it matched every page of the script.

 The censors, a blunt lot, were frequently gotten around. For example, Tangsir (1973), directed by Amir Naderi and starring Vossoughi, had a strongly antiauthoritarian theme. In this story of a popular uprising in the southern region of Tangestan, the villains include an exploitative merchant class backed by the police and religious authorities. The implication that a mullah could be corrupt was unheard of. But because it was based on a true story, which had been the subject of a popular book by Sadeq Chubak, and set 60 years in the past, it eluded the crude radar of the censors.
Gavaznha, released in 1975, was less fortunate, inviting the governments unwelcome scrutiny.

The last film Vossoughi made with Kimiai, it featured a sympathetic portrayal of a young communist militant named Ghodrat who hides out with an old friend, Sayyed (Vossoughi), a former idealist turned drug addict, until they are surrounded and crushed by the overwhelming forces of the states police. After it was featured in Tehrans third international film festival, where Vossoughi walked off with another award for best actor, the government ordered the picture closed. In the end, several minutes of offending scenes were excised, the ending was changed, and Gavaznha was rereleased. But the films antigovernment bias remained so overt that SAVAK, the shahs notorious secret police, interrogated and threatened Vossoughi, leaving him with no doubt as to their attitude toward roles like the one he had taken in Gavaznha. After that, every time I went out I was looking over my back, he says. For six months I was like that. It was a nightmare. I hired a bodyguard to follow me wherever I went.

Pressure from the regime plagued the new wave filmmakers as a whole. Iranian art film, then and today, has had to be subsidized by the state, but with that relationship has come the intrusion of state policy into the filmmaking process. As censorship continued to dog new wave filmmakers, content became more abstract. Criticism had to be made indirectly through symbolism and metaphor (much as in Iranian cinema today). This abstraction led some filmmakers to increasing cinematic complexity on the order of a Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and others toward a seemingly naive style of storytelling, as in many of todays child-centered Iranian films. On the whole, abstraction made the new wave films less accessible to the mass of moviegoers (one thing that Iranian cinema today doesnt have to worry about as much, since government censorship essentially eliminates all foreign competition). By the end of the 1970s, new wave filmmakers were facing the erosion not only of their audience, but also of their financial base, as the government directed its funding increasingly toward television and educational films rather than features.

 But the rejection of these films in Iran was no passive affair: one of the pivotal events in the escalation of unrest in 1978 was a lethal fire set at a movie house in Abadan. The government blamed the torching of the Cinema Rex, in which more than 400 theatergoers died, on Islamic militants. But many thought the timing and location of the attack did not fit the usual pattern of protest. The theater itself was situated in a poor neighborhood, and the fire coincided with the screening of the well-known antigovernment film Gavaznha, starring Behrouz Vossoughi. The fire was therefore widely believed to have been the work of SAVAK, and it sparked waves of protest around the country, ultimately feeding the mass uprising that was Irans revolution before it consolidated under the Islamic right. Shortly after Abadan, all film production in Iran ceased. The Iranian new wave was over.

Of hostages and B movies

By 1980, Iran was no longer an obscure or exotic place to Americans. News coverage of events in and around Iran in 1978 and 1979 made Americans more aware of the country than ever before. Stories of mass demonstrations and riots highlighted the erosion of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavis power.

The shah himself who had been an ally of the United States government ever since the CIA put him squarely on the throne back in 1953 made headlines as the subject of the Carter administrations new emphasis on human rights abuses worldwide.

He was finally forced to flee Iran in January 1979; he sought asylum in the United States but was denied. The following month, after revolutionary militants briefly captured the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the State Department evacuated the families of embassy personnel and urged all U.S. citizens in Iran to leave.

In October the shah, dying of cancer, was granted entry to the United States for medical treatment, triggering angry demonstrations from tens of thousands of Iranian students residing at American universities.

 But public perception changed most dramatically after a crowd of 3,000 stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979. In the end, 52 Americans were held for a total of 444 days. Carter, whose presidency would go down with the botched rescue mission he authorized in April 1980, eschewed election-year campaigning, sequestering himself in the White House to devote full attention to the crisis.

Meanwhile, the public responded with a mixture of bewilderment and outrage. Simultaneously, the political turmoil in Iran spurred an unprecedented wave of immigration to the United States, which attracted nearly half of those fleeing Iran.

Of those who came, about half would settle in California, with the vast majority in Los Angeles. In that exodus, lives of consequence and accomplishment were often traded for ones of obscurity, anonymity, and, in the atmosphere generated by the hostage crisis, often fear and alienation as well.

Vossoughi was already in Los Angeles in 1978, working on an independently produced thriller called Cat in the Cage. At the time, the political disturbances in Iran had not much concerned him. I saw they were banning theater and things like that, he says. But like many other Iranians who came over around that time, Vossoughi assumed that any day he would be free to return. I didnt see that I was guilty of anything.

I thought that if anything happened, I could still come back and work. I am an actor. But he was far too famous. Newspapers in Tehran printed his picture with the shah and the queen. In the early months of 1979, his mother warned him not to return until things cooled off. This never happened. After six or eight months, I heard that all my colleagues over there were not being allowed to make movies.

Khomeinis government banned nearly all prerevolutionary Iranian and foreign cinema. Banned, too, were all actors and entertainers whose work was deemed inappropriate or who were too reminiscent of the old regime.

The blacklist would certainly extend to Vossoughi. His very popularity now made it impossible for him to return to Iran, at least as an actor. In the meantime he had a part as an Egyptian architect in Franklin J. Schaffners Sphinx, released in 1981 on the heels of the Indiana Jones craze. Though a box-office bust, Sphinx was the work of a major director and featured top Hollywood talent (Frank Langella, Lesley-Anne Down, John Gielgud). For Vossoughi, the part suggested better things to come.

If he were temporarily stranded in the United States, at least there might be good work ahead. He had, after all, a distinct advantage over other Iranian actors in exile: he came with formidable experience. Before arriving here, he had participated in two joint projects between American and Iranian film producers, both in English, that were attempts by the Iranian film industry to penetrate the Western market.

The second of these, Caravans (1978), filmed in Egypt, starred Anthony Quinn. It was Vossoughis work in Caravans that had attracted Schaffners attention. The stint in Hollywood should have put Vossoughi in an enviable position. He enrolled in a class to bolster his English, joined the Screen Actors Guild, and found representation through the William Morris Agency.

 But global events would get in the way. Though unofficial, censorship in the United States was no less real than at home for Iranian actors on the wrong side of the politics of the day. Vossoughi remembers it as a very hot time. Popular demonstrations against Iran were a common feature on the news.

Reports of vigilantism directed against Iranians and Iranian Americans were not unusual. The Iranian flag was being burned across the United States. Many Iranians lost their jobs, and many Iranian families received threats. Finding work as an Iranian actor would now prove almost impossible. Vossoughi remembers auditioning in 1980 for a role in The Black Stallion Returns, a sequel to the 1979 hit, and getting as far as a meeting with the executive producer, Francis Ford Coppola.

My agent told me that he was sure I had the part. On the last day there were only three of us left after the 150 whod originally auditioned. Then Francis Coppola came and said he had seen my rsum and that my last movie was with Anthony Quinn. Eventually he asked me where I was from. I said Iran. So he said, Thank you for coming. My agent called me later, asking why I had done this to him. Did I know how much money he had lost? I didnt understand.

His agent wanted to know why Vossoughi had not told Coppola he was Turkish or Greek. While the idea struck Vossoughi as absurd, his identity had become a serious liability. Because of the hostages in Iran, Coppola had called my agent and said I was very good, a very fine actor, but that they could not get involved with the politics right now. According to Vossoughi, this situation repeated itself many times.

Coppolas response may have been surprising, from an outspokenly political director, but it was not atypical. (His office told the Bay Guardian he could not possibly be expected to remember details of a casting decision almost 20 years old). As film scholar Hamid Naficy confirms, The [negative] stereotype of Iranians, especially because of the hostage crisis, was really very deep-rooted. In certain parts of society you wouldnt have known that such hostility existed, but in others, especially in the entertainment field, it was quite vast.

 For Vossoughi, work dried up for the next four or five years. In the United States he was bizarrely associated with the new Khomeini regime that was banning his work, and in Iran with its political opposite, the toppled shahs regime, whose censure hed already suffered. He had no place to go.

I was so mad. Everywhere I went theyd say, Where are you from? and I would say Iran. Period. I lost many parts. He managed only a small role in a horror flick, Time Walker (1982), until the mid 1980s when, thanks to a contact in television (Iranian-born director Reza Badi), Vossoughi began to find work in TV, on shows including Falcon Crest and T.J. Hooker.

But even so positioned to enter the mainstream, Vossoughi found that parts for Iranians and other Middle Easterners were mostly limited to stereotypes, especially that of the Middle Eastern fanatic. Thats the irony of it all, Naficy says, the way these stars in some ways were pushed into playing stereotypes of their own country, which they probably didnt agree with. And so they ended up reproducing sometimes the typical stereotypes.

Vossoughi himself played some of these parts in Veiled Threat (1989) and Terror in Beverly Hills (1991), low-budget action films that traded on the now iconic image of the Middle Eastern terrorist. Terror cast him as a Palestinian ex-CIA informant and hostage-taker. A vehicle for Sly Stallones no-talent sibling, Frank, it was a film Vossoughi now deeply regrets making.

But options were limited, and not just for actors. Unemployment among Iranian immigrants was very high in the first half of the 1980s over 20 percent for men owing largely to the atmosphere generated by the hostage crisis. Faced with public prejudice not seen since the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Vossoughi found himself shut out of an industry for which he was eminently qualified and in which, had circumstances been different, he would almost certainly have found work.

 The comeback

One of the many ironies in the history of Iranian film, which celebrated its centennial last year, is that the Islamic Republic has made the formerly sinful medium respectable for devout Muslims. The Islamic state has a monopoly on film production and distribution. All film stock is owned by the government, and a five-step review process gives the final say not only on the content of a film but, through a three-tiered quality-rating system, also on how well it will do at the box office.

Religious people who shunned the cinema before are now attending films regularly. Theyre even allowing their children to become actors and filmmakers. There was an association before the revolution regarding popular cinema and moral corruption, Naficy notes. That sort of association has been severed. This sanitizing of cinema by Irans theocracy has also meant that women, under the chador, have been more prevalent in filmmaking than ever before.

Even more surprisingly, this postrevolutionary cinema has actually done a much better job of reaching an international audience. Despite its sophistication, the Iranian new wave never achieved the kind of international recognition its successor has. It was Irans infamous presence in the news after 1979 that has actually helped pave the way for the success of its postrevolutionary cinema, documentarian Akrami says. When the films started appearing in festival scenes, Iran was already a major newsmaker, whether it was because of the revolution, the hostage taking, the war, or a host of incessant domestic conflicts. There was a great deal of curiosity about Iran and Iranians in the rest of the world.

By the early 1990s, audiences fascinated by this enigmatic nation discovered the appeal of new Iranian films Dariush Mehrjuiss Hamoon, Bahram Beizais Bashu, Kiarostamis Close Up which defined Iranian realities in very different terms than Americans had come to expect.

Cineastes at Cannes, the Toronto International Film Festival, and Lincoln Center declared the films original and vibrant examples of a new Iranian cinema. While the Iranian new wave films before the revolution possessed the same qualities, Akrami says, they were lacking the political context that helped provide exposure for the postrevolutionary films. It must have been a bitter irony to Vossoughi that many of the directors he had worked with, then little-known internationally, were achieving worldwide recognition while he struggled to practice his craft here in the United States.

 Still, like the larger diaspora to which he belongs, Vossoughi has found his situation steadily improving. One of the more dramatic improvements has been relocating to the Bay Area. I love it. I always ask myself why I was ever in Los Angeles.

Hes working on his autobiography, and in 1999 he completed work on two films of which he is justly proud, Broken Bridges (a docudrama on the plight of Azerbaijan, directed by Rafigh Pooya) and The Crossing.

The latter stands out, by his own account, as the best work he has done since leaving Iran. The Crossing a European production by an American filmmaker, Nora Hoppe is the story of Babak, an exile who has spent 20 years away from his native country of Afghanistan. It was a part Vossoughi felt very close to, and he gave it all the concentration he had used to craft his finest performances in Iran.

And while he is still unable to make a film in Iran, recently several Iranian producers have sought him out for projects to be made in Europe. He is considering some of them but has turned down three others because they were for the regime.

He finds that work philosophically impossible. I think that artists must be independent. If I belong to some group or party or something, Im limited in my work. Whatever I do is for all people. I hate politics interfering with art.

Yet, for better or worse, Vossoughi and his work as an actor have been intimately tied to politics both in Iran and in the United States. Relations between the two countries have been thawing, but his films remain officially banned in Iran, along with nearly all prerevolutionary cinema. And for actors like Vossoughi, a blacklist is still enforced.

Meanwhile, the banned films of the prerevolutionary era sit in a precarious state of desuetude, the victim of official contempt and bureaucratic neglect. Many films are in danger of disintegration. Irans new wave, representing an as yet little-known cinematic treasure for Americans, lies for the time being largely out of reach.

For Iranians, however, who continue to enjoy his films in the privacy of their own homes on bootleg videotapes, Vossoughi has not gone away. Nostalgia for prerevolutionary popular culture has a currency many Americans might find hard to appreciate. In an ongoing war of images, idealizations of the past serve as one weapon of the representatives of Irans modern diaspora against the current regime.

Just last year, an interview with Vossoughi on Voice of America his only means of addressing the Iranian public sparked a flurry of speculation and rumor in Iranian newspapers over Vossoughis imminent return, talk that was quashed in the latest attack on the free press by right-wing forces in the government. Like Googoosh, Vossoughi remains a visceral link for Iranians, both at home and abroad, to a nostalgic image of the past.

 Even here in the United States where a similar, albeit subtler and more diffuse, set of circumstances has kept Vossoughi anonymous and underappreciated Kiarostamis tribute at last years film festival has jolted the public, exhibiting the same kind of power of which cinema, especially in the hands of a master like Kiarostami, is sometimes capable.

At this years San Francisco International Film Festival, English-speaking audiences in the Bay Area will have the rare opportunity to see some of Behrouz Vossoughis best work.

Paying tribute to Vossoughi as part of its Unvanquished series, founded in 1996 to recognize exceptional actors and filmmakers marginalized by politics, the festival will feature two of his films, Tangsir and Dash Akol.

As if to bring about his own wish to see Vossoughi return to the cinema, Kiarostami has set in motion in motion pictures, that is the return of an exiled actor to the big screen. -- http://www.behrouzvossoughi.com


Selected works of Vossoughi, Behrouz

1978   Broken Hearts - Suteh Delan (1978)
1976   Mah-e asal - Honeymoon (1976)
1976   The Divine One | Malakout (1976)
1975   Beehive - Kandu (1975)
1975   Kandu - Beehive (1975)
1973   Curse - Nefrin (1973)
1972   The Dagger - Deshne (1972)
1972   Deshne (1972)
1972   Baluch (1972)
1971   Dash akol (1971)
1970   The Invincible Six - Ghahremanan (1970)
1970   The Window | Panjereh (1970)
1969   Gheisar | Qaysar (1969)
1966   Goodbye Tehran - Khodahafez Tehran (1966)

Night Train To Lisbon
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