Il Cinema Ritrovato, an Italian festival dedicated to screening newly restored classics running in Bologna until July 4, is showing four Iranian films from the Iranian New Wave cinema. The program is curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht in collaboration with the National Film Archive of Iran.
The black comedy “Night of the Hunchback” (1965) directed by Farrokh Ghaffari, set over the course of one night against a backdrop of uptown Tehran partying to Ray Charles, focuses on the efforts of a group of stage actors, the father of a bride, and a hairdresser and his assistant (played by Ghaffari himself) to rid themselves of an unwelcome corpse.
The satirical documentary “The Night It Rained or The Epic of the Gorgan Village Boy” (1967) directed by Kamran Shirdel, offers a crash course in 1960s Iran. A newspaper story of a heroic village boy who prevented a train disaster appears and spreads quickly. The incident, reported on and challenged by local officials and journalists, is soon doubted and leads ultimately to confusion, with nobody knowing exactly who has saved whom.
“The Cow” (1969) by Dariush Mehrjuii, which is considered as the milestone of Iranian new wave cinema, tells the story of a poor villager whose only source of joy and livelihood is his cow, which provides milk for the village. One night the cow is mysteriously killed and that’s when the madness, or rather transformation, begins.
“A Simple Event” (1973) by Sohrab Shahid Saless depicts a few days in the life of a young boy living by the Caspian Sea. At school he falls behind his classmates and is almost expelled. He helps his father to fish illegally, and at home watches as his mother’s health deteriorates.
About Iranian New Wave
Iranian New Wave cinema came about as a reaction to the popular cinema of the time which did not reflect the lives of regular Iranians. It began in 1969 and then ended with the beginning of the Iranian revolution in 1979. The films produced were original, artistic and political. The House Is Black by Forough Farrokhzad (1963) is considered to be a precursor to the New Wave cinema. Other films such as Farrokh Ghaffari’s “The Night Of The Hunchback” (1964), Abrahim Golestan’s, “Mud-Brick And Mirror” (1965), and Ferydoon Rahnema’s “Siavush in Persepolis” are all considered to be precursors as well. The first film considered to be part of this movement is Darius Mehrjui’s “The Cow” (1969). Other films considered to be part of this movement are Naser Taqvai’s “Peace in the Presence of Others” (1969/1972), which was banned and then heavily censored upon its release, and Sohrab Shahid Saless’ “A Simple Event” (1973) and “Still Life” (1974).