A Separation. 2011. Iran. Directed by Asghar Farhadi. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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.

Support for the exhibition is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation and Steven Tisch, with major contributions from Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), Yuval Brisker Charitable Foundation, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.

Upcoming events

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.