Friday, March 29, 2013

Multicultural Films at the Neumann: Twelfth in an Ongoing Series

Iran has had a film industry since 1930. By the 1970s, Iran was producing 90 feature films a year. The Islamic revolution halted film production for several years, but since 1983, when the Iranian government founded the Farabi Cinema Foundation to develop a national cinema, Iranian film has appeared on the world stage, and many of its films and filmmakers have contended for global cinematic honors. The Neumann Library has a number of Iranian films. One such film is Children of Heaven. Made by the distinguished director Majid Majidi, Children of Heaven is about Ali, a young boy in a poor Tehran neighborhood who loses his sister Zahra’s shoes. The pair decide to keep the loss a secret from their parents by sharing his shoes. Ali learns of a footrace for which the one of the prizes is a pair of sneakers. This film won no fewer than 10 international film awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Color of Paradise is another Iranian film that made a global splash. This film, which was also written and directed by Majid Majidi, deals with Mohammad, a blind boy who returns to his village from the Institute for the Blind. However, his widowed father has always regarded Mohammad as a burden and a source of shame. He attempts to apprentice his son to a blind carpenter. He intends to disown Mohammad to remarry and obtain a dowry from his fiancée. The Color of Paradise was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won seven international film awards.
Currently, A Separation is Iran’s most celebrated film. This story of the separation and divorce of a couple won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Simin wants to leave Iran with her daughter so that the latter might have a better life. Simin’s husband Nader, however, will not leave Iran without his father, who has Alzheimer’s disease. He hires a maid to care for the father when he is away, but the maid is unsatisfactory. Moreover, she has a secret. In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, A Separation won 59 awards worldwide, including the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, the National Board of Review’s Best Foreign Film Award, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Check ‘em out of the Neumann Library.

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