International Short Film Festival 2007, Independent Films on Iran

Kamran Shirdel Retrospective of five short films

We are proud to present a retrospective of five short films by Kamran Shirdel one of the pioneers of the social-documentary in Iranian cinema. Please click here for Kamran Shirdel's biography and filmography

The retrospective will consist of the following films in this order

  1. Tehran Is the Capital of Iran (Tehran Paitakhte Iran Ast)
    • Written and Directed by Kamran Shirdel
    • Cameraman: Mansour Yazdi
    • Editing: Kamran Shirdel, Kazem Rajinia
    • Produced by the Ministry of Culture and Art
    • Running Time: 18 min., 23 sec.
    • B&W, 1966-79

    image from Tehran Is the Capital of Iran Synopsis: Tehran Is the Capital of Iran (1966-79) documents life in a deprived district in the south of Tehran. The images of destitution in Tehran's poor areas is accompanied by a variety of spoken accounts: the official viewpoint on the district's living conditions, what the inhabitants have to say, and occasional extracts read out of school manuals. The key element in Shirdel's film is the counterpoint effect he creates with image and sound. His impressively powerful portrayal of social unease helps reinforce the impact of his astonishing documentary images and social themes.


  2. Women's Prison (Nedamatgah)
    • Written and Directed by Kamran Shirdel
    • Cameraman: Maziar Partow
    • Editing: Kamran Shirdel, Kazem Rajinia
    • Narration: Asadollah Payman
    • Produced by the Ministry of Culture and Art
    • Running Time: 10 min., 38 sec.
    • B&W, 1965

    image from Women's PrisonSynopsis: Women's Prison recounts the life of the prisoners and the problems their families encounter in their struggle to survive. Here again filmmaker Kamran Shirdel employs the cinema verité style. The interviews with the prisoners, social workers and teachers serve as commentaries for "constructed" documentary images.

    The technical process shows the extent to which solving social problems depends on everyone's cooperation and participation. Certainly prisoners alone cannot offer the remedy to the entire catalog of social ills that propel these women into delinquency.


  3. The Women's Quarter (Qaleh, a.k.a. The Red Light District)
    • Written and Directed by Kamran Shirdel
    • Cameramen: Kamran Shirdel, Mansour Yazdi
    • Editing: Kamran Shirdel
    • Stills: Kaveh Golestan
    • Produced by the Ministry of Culture and Art
    • Running Time: 18 min., 23 sec.
    • B&W, 1966-80

    image from The Women's QuarterSynopsis:The deeply moving Qaleh - The Women's Quarter (1966) shows the life of prostitutes in Tehran's city brothels, an area known as Shahre Now. The film closely follows a number of women and communicates how the burden of social constraints led them to surrender in the face of their common fate. By including photos in the film, a very unique and artistic approach that brings to mind Chris Marker's classic La Jeteé, Shirdel not only tempers the subject's emotional heaviness but also respects the individual's privacy, two pitfalls that often afflict films that deal with themes of this nature. The film does explore the possibility of re-education and development for these women, but in no way does it paint over the hard and brutal reality. As the film closes, a magnificent scene shot in slow motion leaves us with the memory of this ugliness forever imprinted in our minds.

    The film was produced on behalf of the Organization of Iranian Women and was immediately banned while shooting was still going on. After the revolution, a portion of the material was found, and Shirdel decided to finish the film using photos by the late Kaveh Golestan that were taken more than ten years after the film itself was shot.

    Screened in Moscow, Krakow, Warsaw, Prague, Dehli, Bombay, Paris, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Reggio Calabria, Rome, Montreal, Lisbon, Matera, Helsinki, Leipzig, Beirut, Dubai, Doha, Chicago, UCLA, and others.

    • Diploma of Honor (Moscow International Film Festival, 1980)
    • Fipresci Award (Krakow International Film Festival, 1980)
    • Best Documentary Award (Milad Film Festival, Iran, 1980)


  4. The Night It Rained (a.k.a. The Epic of Gorgani Villager)
    • Conceived, Written and Directed by Kamran Shirdel
    • Cameramen: Naghi Maasoumi, Kamran Shirdel
    • Editing: Kamran Shirdel, Fati Dorostian
    • Sound: Homayoun Pourmand
    • Scripted Narration: Esmail Nouriala
    • Narrator: Nosrat Karimi
    • Produced by the Ministry of Culture and Art
    • Format: 35 mm
    • Running time: 35 min.
    • B&W, 1967-74

    image from The Night It RainedSynopsis: The Night It Rained is undoubtedly Kamran Shirdel's best film and a masterpiece in the history of documentary filmmaking. In northern Iran, a schoolboy from a village near Gorgan is said to have discovered that the railway had been undermined and washed away by a flood. As the story goes, when he saw the approaching train, he set fire to his jacket, ran towards the train and averted a serious and fatal accident. Shirdel's film does not concentrate on the heroic deed promulgated in the newspapers, but on a caricature of social and subtle political behavior - the way in which witnesses and officials manage to insert themselves into the research into this event. Shirdel uses newspaper articles and interviews with railway employees, the governor, the chief of police, the village teacher and pupils, each of whom tell a different version of the event. In the end, they all contradict each other, while the group of possible or self-appointed heroes constantly grows. With his cinematic sleights of hand, Shirdel paints a bittersweet picture of Iranian Society in which truth, rumor, and lie can no longer be distinguished.

    After completion the film was harshly banned and confiscated, and Shirdel was expelled from the Ministry. It was released seven years later in 1974 to participate in the Third Tehran International Film Festival, where it won the GRAND PRIX by a unanimous vote, only to be banned again until after the revolution.


  5. Solitude Opus
    • Written, Edited and Directed by Kamran Shirdel
    • Videography: Kamran Shirdel and Siamak Pourafshar
    • Sound: Kamran Shirdel
    • Narration: Kamran Shirdel
    • Production and World Sales: Filmgrafic Co. (Kamran Shirdel),
    • Format: Beta SP
    • Running Time: 19 min.
    • Color, 2001-2

    image from Solitude Opus 1Synopsis: Waiting for Godot on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, an island where lives of decay and lives of luxury are neighbors. A man in his 80s believes he is still in charge of a long-ago abolished complex for capturing alternative forms of energy from the sun. The images - an homage to the late great Iranian filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Sales, as per Shirdel's own intentions - contrast explicitly with the words spoken about the perspective for a great future for the island, cited from official tourist guides.

    Winner of the Special Jury Award at the FIKE International Film Festival - EVORA/PORTUGAL 2003


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