Bahram Beyzaie: Iranian film director, playwright and researcher

Bahram BeyzaieBahram Beyzaie was born in Tehran, Iran on Dec 26 1938. He is an Iranian film director, theatre director, screenwriter, playwright, film editor, producer, and researcher.

Beyzaie is part of a generation of filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave, a Persian cinema movement that started in the late 1960s and includes other pioneering directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Forough Farrokhzad, Sohrab Shahid Sales, and Parviz Kimiavi. The filmmakers share many common techniques including the use of poetic dialog, references to traditional Persian art and culture and allegorical story-telling often dealing with political and philosophical issues.

After beginning Persian literature at Tehran University, Bahram Beyzaie turned to Visual Arts. Here he studied the Book of Kings (Shahname), the Shiite passion plays (Ta’zieh) , the traditional Persian Theatre including the puppet theatre, the pre-Islamic culture and Persian miniature painting. All of this combined with his interest in the far Eastern theatre helped him to develop of a new direction for the Iranian theatre.

Beyzaie’s “Drama in Iran” (Namayesh dar Iran), published in late 1960s is still considered the most important text on the history of Iranian theater. Beyzaie is also the first scholar in Iran to publish books on theater in China and Japan. Some of his plays such as his masterpiece “Marg-e Yazdgerd” (“Death of Yazdgerd”) have been made into films.

In 1964 he published the first of three pieces “Seh Namāyesch-e Arusak” (Three Puppet Plays), where the influence of Pirandello and the Theatre of the Absurd is reflected.

In 1969 he began his film career by directing the short film Amu Sibilou (Uncle Moustache) followed by Safar (The Journey) in 1970. Immediately after, in 1971, he made his first feature film “Ragbar” (“Downpour”) which is regarded by critics to this day as one of the most successful Iranian films ever made. The successful film addresses the late Parviz Fannizadeh as its central character and protagonist. Since then he produced and directed a number of films, including “Bashu, the little Stranger”.

He is known as the most intellectual and conspicuous “author” in Iranian cinema. The main theme of his works is the history and “crisis of identity” which is related to Iranian cultural and mythical symbols and paradigms.

Beyzaie lives and works in Iran, but is spending an academic year at Stanford University as the Bita Daryabari Visiting Professor of Persian Studies.

Selection of works and publications:
– numerous articles on literary and art magazines,
– Theatre in Japan
– Gorob dar Diari Garib (Sunset in a strange Land)
– Chahar Sandoogh (Four Chests)
– Hashtomin Safar-e Sandbad (Sinbad’s Eighth Voyage)
– Ziafat va Miras (1967 – aka Heritage and The Feast)
– Soltan-Mar (1969 – aka The King Snake)
– Dolls
– Story of the hidden Moon
– Seh Namayesh-e Arusak (Three Puppet Plays)
– Marg-e Yazdgerd (1979 – aka Death of Yazdgerd)
– Karname-ye Bandar Bidakhsh (1997 and 1998)
– Banu Aoi (1997 and 1998) (based on The Lady Aoi by Yukio Mishima)
– Shab-e Hezar-o-yekom (2003)
– Afra ya Rooz migozarad (2007 – aka Afra, or the day passes)

Filmography (as a director):
– 1969: Amu Sibilu (short – aka Uncle Moustache)
– 1970: Safar (short – aka The Journey)
– 1971: Ragbār (aka Downpour)
– 1974: Qaribé va Meh (aka The Stranger and the Fog)
– 1976: Kalāq (aka The Crow or The Raven )
– 1979: Charike-ye Tārā (aka Ballad of Tara)
– 1982: Marg-e Yazdgerd (aka Death of Yazdgerd)
– 1986: Bashu, Gharibe-ye Koochak (aka Bashu, the Little Stranger – released 1989)
– 1988: Shayad Vaghti digar (aka Maybe Some Other Time)
– 1992: Mosaferan (aka Travellers)
– 1998: Goft-o-gu ba Bad (short – aka Talking with the Wind)
– 2001: Sagkoshi (aka Killing Mad Dogs)
– 2006: Qāli-ye Sokhangū (The narrative rug)
– 2009: Vaqti hame khābim (When we are all sleeping)

Awards
– 1973: Chicago International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival: “The Journey”: Silver Hugo, Silver Award
– 1990: Aubervilliers Film Festival: “Bashu, the little stranger” – Best film
– 2001: 19th International Fajr Film Festival: “Killing Mad Dogs” – Screenplay
– 2004: International Istanbul Film Festival: Award for lifetime achievement

Sources:
Wikipedia (English and German)
Stanford University – Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages

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