Background conversations for the film series “10 Days of Iranian Cinema” will give an insight into the directors’ cinematic craft, the conditions of film production in Iran, the reception of their films, both nationally and internationally, the volatile history of the country and its capital Tehran as well as the history and prospects of cinema. The talks are in English or in Farsi with English subtitles. You can navigate between videos by selecting chapters.

Interview with Bahram Beyzai (“Bashu, the Little Stranger”)

Film and theatre director & professor at Stanford University, USA
18 min, Farsi with English subtitles

Bahram Beyzai is one of the most important Iranian film and theatre directors and contemporary authors. His works focuses on Iran’s culture, history, myths and identities. Despite his great popularity – for a long time, his first film “Ragbar” (1972) was the most successful cinema film ever in Iran – Beyzai never managed to gain continued support for his projects, neither before nor after the Islamic revolution. His most widely known film “Bashu, the Little Stranger” (1986) – which plays a central part in the series “10 Days of Iranian Cinema” – was created during a time when its anti-war pathos incurred the displeasure of the authorities, so that is was banned even though it had been funded by the government.

The story of this film, composed from a great deal of mythical images, takes place in the inferno of the Iran-Iraq-War: A ten-year-old boy flees from the airstrikes on his village in Iran’s Arabic south to the Persian north of the country. With this delicate story of strangers drawing closer to each other in times of war, Beyzai created a pacifist utopian dream that is unique in the history of Iranian cinema. After the end of the war between Iran and Iraq, there was a new quality of public discourse and the film was now seen as a means to connect peoples and promote peace, and thus to corresponded with the prevailing conciliatory public policy – which meant that the ban was lifted and it could once more be screened.

We conducted a video interview with Bahram Beyzai in Stanford (USA), where he has been living for several years, teaching Theatre and Iranian History and directing plays at the university. He talks about how he sees his old home from his far-away exile, about a lack of foresight and historical awareness among Iranians, about how he lost his own cinematic work and the difficulties of finding support for new film-projects. He would gladly have made his film “Bashu, the Little Stranger” available to the film series, but an agreement with the licence holders could not be reached.


Interview with Rakhshan Banietemad (“The May Lady”)

Film director and screenwriter, Tehran
22 min, Farsi with English subtitles


Curator Afsun Moshiry in conversation with Vivien Buchhorn (curator and scholar, Berlin) & Reza Haeri (film director, Tehran) about film director Sohrab Shahid Saless (“A Simple Event”)

27 min, English

He is a global citizen of Iranian cinema: Born in Iran in 1944, Sohrab Shahid Saless studied in Vienna and Paris during the 1960s. In Iran, he shot several short and two feature-length film which were celebrated at international festivals and for which he received the Silver Bear at the 1974 Berlinale: “Still Life” and “A Simple Event”, which are featured in our programme.

He emigrated to West Germany, where he realised four cinematic films, seven television productions and three documentaries before moving to Czechoslovakia for a short stay and finally emigrating to the United States.

What may sound like a jet-setting life was in fact a life of countless obstacles. He spent his years as a student in ill health and dire financial straits. While in Iran, he was confronted with the Shah-regime’s censorship and in Germany – although highly decorated with invitations to documenta, a member of the Berlin Academy of the Arts and an Adolf-Grimme-Award-laureate – he was subjected to polemic discussions by film-funding bodies and television producers. Saless never managed to move beyond the role of a guest in New German Cinema.

Saless died in Chicago in 1998 and left us an incomparable oeuvre: Long, static shots, silence and concentration allow room for the loneliness, melancholy and hopelessness of simple people of small means.

His works were discovered or rediscovered in recent times, which led to retrospectives in Berlin, Munich, Brussels and Tehran. German film scholar Vivien Buchhorn and Iranian filmmaker Reza Haeri are considered to be experts in the field of research on Saless. In conversation with curator Afsun Moshiry, they talk about the work of this exceptional director and its impact.


Interview with Daniel Kötter (“Hashti Tehran”)

Film & theatre director, Berlin
19 min, English



10 Days of Iranian Cinema / Interview-Overview