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Mehrjui, Dariush

Mehrjui, Dariush

Date of birth
     8 December 1939, Tehran, Iran

Mini biography

Director | Writer | Producer

Dariush Mehrjui (December 8th 1939, Tehran, Iran )

Born on December 8, 1939 in Tehran, Dariush Mehrjui is a graduate of Philosophy from UCLA.

As an Iranian New Wave cinema icon, Mehrjui is regarded to be one of the intellectual directors of Iranian cinema. As an adult, he moved to the United States and entered the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Department of Cinema.

He switched his major to philosophy and graduated from UCLA in 1964. Returning to Iran in 1965, he almost immediately embarked on a filmmaking career.

He made his debut in 1966 with Diamond 33. His second featured film, Cow (1969), brought him national and international recognition.

Cow (1969), a compelling symbolic drama, is about a simple villager and his nearly mythical attachment to his cow. The story of the film was from renowned Iranian literary figure Gholamhossein Sa’edi.

“The greatest privilege we have as human beings is the ability to say no.”

In 1971, the film was smuggled out of Iran and submitted to the Venice Film Festival, where, without programming or subtitles, it became the largest event of that year’s festival.

The film was a turning point in the history of Iranian cinema. The public received it with great enthusiasm, despite the fact that it had ignored all the traditional elements of box office attraction. In 1973 Mehrjui began directing what was to be his most acclaimed film.

The Cycle (1976) was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture but encountered opposition from the Iranian medical establishment and was banned from release until 1977.

It was universally admired abroad. The film won the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1978.

In 1981, he traveled to Paris and remained there for several years, during which time he made a feature-length semi-documentary for French TV, Voyage au Pays de Rimbaud (1983).

Feeling homesick, he returned to Iran to film The Tenants (1986), a comedy of conflict between apartment tenants and a realtor seeking to throw them out.

In Hamoun (1989), a portrait of an intellectual whose life is falling apart, Mehrjui sought to depict his generation’s post-revolutionary turn from politics to mysticism. The ‘90s also found Mehrjui releasing films dealing with women’s issues.

Banoo (1991, released in 1998) more or less brought Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961) to Iran.

Sara (1993) did the same for Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

Pari (1995), a transplanting of Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, attracted the attention – and the threat of a lawsuit – from the reclusive author.

Leila (1996) was all Mehrjui’s own and the first to receive any sort of wide theatrical release in the West. The story of a marriage undone by infertility and a meddling mother-in-law, it earned Mehrjui raves.

Outside of festivals and a career-spanning retrospective by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in late 1998, his films remain largely unseen outside Iran, an oversight that will hopefully be corrected with the passing of time. -- IMDb


Director - Selected filmography

  1. Tehran Tehran (2010)
  2. The Musician - Ali santoori (2006)
  3. Bemani (2002)
  4. The Mix (2000)
  5. Tales of an Island (2000)
  6. The Lady | Banoo (1999)
  7. The Pear Tree - Derakht-E Golabi (1998)
  8. Leila (1996)
  9. Pari (1995)
  10. Sara (1993)
  11. Hamoun (1990)
  12. The Tenants - Lodgers - Ejareh-Nesheenha (1987)
  13. The Cycle - Dayereh Mina (1976)
  14. Postman - Postchi (1973)
  15. Mr. Simpleton - Aghay-e Haloo (1971)
  16. The Cow - Gaav (1969)

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