Contemporary Iranian film has been earning worldwide acclaim since around 1990, when it became known for a neorealist streak characterized by authentic, simple depictions of life. The complex reality of Iran has, however, been explored by a wide range of cinematic voices, with formally and conceptually rigorous films dealing with subjects as diverse as urban life, women’s issues, interpersonal dramas, philosophy, all while creatively skirting strict censorship rules.
One figure has contributed to the look of this rich, multifaceted, evolving cinema like no other: cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari, who has lensed some of the most acclaimed works by Asghar Farhadi, Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Dariush Mehrjui, and Jafar Panahi, to name just a few. Beyond these celebrated masters, Kalari has also collaborated with young and emerging directors, making him a constant presence across the wide gamut of Iranian cinema. Kalari approaches each film with no preconceptions, devising for each a specific visual style. From dynamic handheld camerawork to stark minimalism, placid countryside to gritty metropolis, short shot to long take (in one case lasting over two hours—the entire length of the film), he is undaunted by any boundary. Kalari has steadily, over three decades, focused our gaze on Iran.
This exhibition includes 12 films, from 1996 to the present, by 10 directors, including Kalari himself.
Organized by La Frances Hui, Associate Curator, Department of Film.
Special thanks to Mahyar Kalari, Faryar Javaherian, Bahman Farmanara, Godfrey Cheshire, Kathy Geritz of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Emily Rago.