Dayereh-ye Mina (The Cycle). 1974. Iran. Written and directed by Dariush Mehrjui. With Saeed Kangarani, Ezzatollah Entezami, Forouzan. 35mm print courtesy Cinémathèque française. In Persian; English and French subtitles. 98 min.
This harrowing tale of poverty and drug addiction in the slums, in which people desperately sell their blood to survive, is based on Gholam-Hossein Sa’dei’s short story “Garbage Dump.” Banned due to objections from the Iranian Medical Association, The Cycle was shelved for three years before it was eventually shown at the Shiraz Arts Festival. The left saw the story of the poor selling contaminated blood for injection into new veins as a metaphor for the corruption of Pahlavis. For Mehrjui, however, this was more a candid investigation of a real problem, and it eventually helped inspire the formation of the Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization. The casting of the popular filmfarsi star Forouzan was controversial, but her fine performance proved the versatility of Iranian actors.