Rakhshan Bani-Etemad is not simply one of Iran's leading film
directors but one, according to Sheila Whitaker, deserving of a place in any
history of international cinema. Yet, outside of festivals, she has largely been
ignored in the UK. Here's the opportunity to find out just how much we've been
Rakhshan Bani-Etemad has been a major figure in Iranian cinema for over 20 years
and given equivalent status on the international scene since 1991, when
appeared at international festivals, including London. The mystery is why this
accomplished film-maker, duly feted elsewhere in the world, has been largely
ignored in the UK. She is a leading, not to say pioneering, figure in an
alternative Iranian cinema. Not that her films have lingered on the margins -
with the exception of Foreign Currency they have all been domestic box- office
hits. But whereas the popular cinema largely (re)confirms the Islam of the
Iranian state - and particularly the position of women - and leaves social ills
unquestioned, her films consistently critique the status quo.
She intended training as an architect but then decided to work in film,
beginning as a television script girl whilst studying film at the College of
Dramatic Arts. After working as a TV reporter, she began her career behind the
camera in 1984, researching and documenting the socio-political issues which
were defining the lives of the poor and underprivileged. It is these concerns -
and the unambiguous contesting of patriarchy - that inform all her fiction
films. Her early scripts were refused: one, dealing with Touba and her children,
was based on an actual woman who Bani-Etemad later included as herself in
The May Lady.
As a result, her first three features were not her original scripts and,
although their subject matter clearly appealed, she substantially re-wrote them.
Work on her personal projects began with Nargess,
and these, unlike her first films which profiled male characters, were to
profile women who, whilst victims of society and patriarchy, also resist and
survive. Bani-Etemad's fictions are also notable for the documentary influences
within their visualisation (and her documentaries for their creative
strategies). Thus it is that her preoccupations - the foregrounding of a society
blighted by extreme poverty and the subversion of patriarchy and the Oedipal in
a culture which actively seeks to deny and repress female sexuality - and their
cinematic realisation have resulted in a truly remarkable series of complex and
Wed 16 Apr 18:20
Fri 25 Apr 20:40
Comic exploration of the serious issue of rural-urban exploration.
Sat 12 Apr 15:50
Sat 19 Apr 18:40
Satirical look at Iran's rampant inflation and fixation with foreign currency.
Wed 23 Apr 18:20
Wed 30 Apr 21:00
Rakhshan Bani-Etemad boldly confronts the Iran-Iraq war.
Under the City's Skin
Mon 14 Apr 18:10
Wed 23 Apr 20:50
Powerful drama and an accompanying documentary dealing with drug addiction in
The May Lady +
The Last Meeting with Iran Daftari
Sat 19 Apr 15:50
Thu 24 Apr 20:15
Poetic film about motherhood, plus a tribute to a celebrated actress.
Sun 13 Apr 15:45
Tue 15 Apr 18:00
First in a thematic trilogy dealing with parents, children and sexuality.
Fri 11 Apr 18:10
Thu 17 Apr 20:45
Fine addition to the genre of satiric portraits of bureaucracies and
Mon 21 Apr 20:45
Sat 26 Apr 15:50
Fascinating portrait of Iran at the start of the 21st Century.
Bani-Etemad in Conversation
Mon 14 Apr 20:30
We welcome one of the leading women film-makers in Iran for an on-stage
Thu 17 Apr 20:30
Sun 20 Apr 16:00
An elderly widower falls in love with one his employees.
To Whom Will
You Show These Films Anyway?
Fri 18 Apr 18:40
Sun 27 Apr 18:20
Bani-Etemad continues to explore the impact of socio-political issues on the
Under the Skin
of the City
Mon 21 Apr 18:10
Sat 26 Apr 20:30
Tuba and her family struggle to survive against the backdrop of the 1998 Iranian
The film retrospective is part of a season of events celebrating
Bani-Etemad's work that includes a
fimmaking masterclass led by her and a
conference, both at the School of Oriental and African Studies where she
will also receive an Honorary Degree for her contribution to World Cinema and
her examination of Iranian culture and society.