"Hoveyda combines his literary sensitivity, his cinematic instinct, and his international experience, to create images that are beautiful, perceptive, and funny."
– Andy Warhol
Much will be said and written about
the Hoveyda brothers in History books as well as on their moral and political legacy that was
nurtured by brotherhood love that transcended the tragic death of elder Amir
Abbas in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. As a young Iranian diplomat, Fereydoun Hoveyda was involved
in the preparatory work for the San Francisco Conference that adopted the
Charter of the U.N. (1945) In 1947 and 1948 he participated in the drafting and
voting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The former
Ambassador and permanent representative of
Although not a close friend of Mr. Hoveyda, we both were nevertheless columnists and feature writers for the popular online magazine Iranian.com. I therefore had the honor of corresponding with him several times to talk about Art and his experience in Films. I have to say that I came across a man who despite the great ups and downs of life came across as not only a brilliant but also a man of taste with a great sense of humor. Of all his articles and books he wrote I should say that I was mostly intrigued by those that were related to films. Reading a passage from one of his articles in the Iranian.com under the title Read or Watch ? (*) which my own brother Cyrus, also a columnist, had drawn my attention too. I was amazed to discover and read some common thoughts about movies that were triggered to me ( only decades later) upon seeing another version, (yet probably more known today as the definitive color version) of one the greatest historical novels of all Time : Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (**) by Gen. Lew Wallace. The film that started off Mr. Hoveyda’s life long passion for the moving pictures was the 1923 silent version of Lew Wallace’s book directed by Hollywood Legend Fred Niblo. The eternal story of betrayed brotherhood love, vengeance and hate that concluded with an optimistic note on individual glory, faith and pardon. After reading the article, I thought to myself what a great irony it was that the story of Judas Ben Hur echoed so strongly in my mind on that of the Hoveyda Brother’s even if not exactly in the same order or conclusion as in the Book. However very much like the heroes of the Ancient Drama, Ben Hur and Messalla were destined to be separated by circumstances larger than life. The birth of a new Religion, The might of an Empire in all its glory and decadence, brotherhood and betrayal are all recurrent themes that unfold in the real life and death of the Hoveyda brothers albeit with very different conclusions. Far from searching historical accuracy any Romantic novelist may nevertheless conclude that the Hoveyda Brothers were the two sides of the same coin. In this fictitious tale, they could well both be Judas Ben Hur while the Roman Centurion Messala would be the Shah, the friend who betrays. If this historical comparison is far fetched and certainly less accurate than the political realities that would explain the downfall of the Persian Monarchy and the death of one of its major Civil Servants of 13 years, the late Amir Abbas Hoveyda, Ben Hur’s tale appears as an interesting Manichean Metaphor at least to explain the often complex relationship between those in Power and those who are being ruled.
Maybe this initial but strong impression from seeing Ben Hur in his youth may also to some extent explain some of Mr. Fereydoun Hoveyda’s later works as in trying to find parallels between Persian Mythology and History to explain the roots of the downfall of the Monarchy and the Rise of the Ayatollah Khomeiny to Power. Whether his arguments are correct or his approach to the issue entirely objective is certainly debatable, but it is however interesting to note that both Hoveyda’s were drawn by a similar passion for the same novel and that both chose albeit differently to be in the public eye: One through politics ( Amir Abbas) while the other by serving the Arts ( Fereydoun) and films in particular.
From Left to Right, President Pompidou, Amir Abbas Hoveyda and Fereydoun Hoveyda
© F Hoveyda
Fereydoun Hoveyda was to befriend
some of the greatest Stars of Hollywood and European Cinema such as the yet
unknown Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, Shirley Mclaine, and Claude Chabrol. As an artist Hoveyda, in his many shows in the
Cat Collages by Fereydoun Hoveyda. With the Warhols and ( Insert ) his painting by Andy Warhol, Hoveyda and Wife with Hollywood actor Robert De Niro ©F Hoveyda
He was not only familiar with the
medium but was a passionate critic who certainly contributed to an Art form that
was not yet recognized as one. In
1953, he met two major film critics and Theorists of the 20th
Century: André Bazin and François
Truffaut, his protégé. They offered him to write in les “Cahiers du Cinema”,
shortly after Truffaut wrote his famous article turned into a manifesto for the
French New Wave Cinema . At the same time the monthly “Fiction” gave him a column on cinema. From 1954 to 1960 he worked with the father
of Italian Neo Realist Cinema Roberto Rossellini on several projects. In 1957 he
co-wrote with him the script for
Hoveyda with French Film Director Claude Chabrol
Fereydoun Hoveyda belonged to a generation of Iranian Intellectuals and Art Lovers who were to pave the Road for some of today’s brilliant Iranian Artists and particularly filmmakers in being exposed and understood in the West. It is not surprising that Les Cahiers du Cinéma was to do a coverage on the future Cannes Laureate of 1997 the film Maestro Abbas Kiarostami far before his name was even recognized as one of the major filmmakers of the 20th Century.
Two months ago I had the privilege of corresponding with Mr. Hoveyda again on behalf of the World Academia of Arts and Literature in Budapest, Hungary for the 2nd Persian Golden Lioness Awards during which some of the best representatives of the ¨Persian Arts of the Diaspora were honored in various disciplines such as Shohreh Aghdhashloo, Omid Djalili, Kayvan Mashayekh, Dustin Ellis in Cinema, Soprano Monika Jalili and Maestro Alexander Rahbari in Music, Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam in Ballet Dance and Mrs. Azar Nafisi in Literature to name a few. He was very enthusiastic about this cultural initiative. He said that he regretted not to be able to respond favorably to our invitation due to his illness but wished us success in the years to come. He even hoped to be able to write back to some of his old film acquaintances and write on films again after his recovery.
The World of Arts and Cinema in particular loses one of its greatest contributors.
Yes Mr. Fereydoun Hoveyda certainly belonged to a Class Apart …
From The Hidden Meaning of Mass Communication: Cinema , Books, and Television in the Age of Computers (2000, Praeger Publishers) by Fereydoun Hoveyda.
About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Columnist for OCPC Magazine. He operated as
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