8 Award-Winning Movies That'll Change The Way You See Iran

8 Award-Winning Movies That'll Change The Way You See Iran

By: Zoralis Pérez -

As Werner Herzog said back in 1995: “The greatest films of the world today are being made in Iran.”


When it comes to naming the biggest national film industries in the world, the top three are no secret: Bollywood (India), Nollywood (Nigeria), and Hollywood (USA). But what about the best national film industry? Which country produces the highest quality, most critically-acclaimed movies in the world? The answer, of course, depends on which criteria we take into account, but for many renowned critics working today, only one country deserves this recognition, and that is Iran. 

We usually hear about the Islamic Republic of Iran in terms of its relationship with the US, with which it has been embroiled in conflict for decades. Take, for instance, the recent killing of General Qassem Soleimani and the subsequent threats of World War III breaking out. In contrast, any cultural or social developments in the country, or even anything that is relatively positive, rarely if ever makes it to the mainstream news in the West. For the average news reader, Iran is reduced to a far-off country in the Middle East where people just don’t like the US. 

However, Iran is much more than its fraught relationship with the US. It is a beautiful country with a rich culture and, as we mentioned before, a seriously impressive film industry. For instance, the country has obtained three Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and won two of them (all three movies are in the list below). Other prestigious film festivals from around the world - like Cannes, Venice, Berlin, just to name a few - have also recognized Iranian productions, and at least one Iranian movie every year is the talk of the town in the movie industry, which is no small feat considering the linguistic and cultural barriers. 

The following are only eight examples of the best movies that have come out of Iran in the last couple of decades. They are worth watching not only because they are good cinema, but also because they provide a window into a country seemingly worlds away from us. And in times of conflict like this, what better way to bring people together than through the joy of the movies.

A Separation (2011) 

Dir. Asghar Farhadi

This story of a middle-class couple whose decision to get a divorce causes turmoil in their family was the first Iranian movie to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

movies about iran

The Salesman (2016) 

Dir. Asghar Farhadi

The second Iranian movie to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film was also directed by Asghar Farhadi and tells the story of a married couple who stage Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”

movies about iran

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) 

Dir. Ana Lily Amirpour

Tagged as “the first Iranian vampire western,” Amirpour’s story about a young female vampire who roams a desolate city looking for men to devour was praised for its feminist themes and striking visual imagery. 

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Taxi (2015) 

Dir. Jafar Panahi

Since director Jafar Panahi is banned from making movies, he made this one where he pretends to be a normal taxi driver hearing his passenger’s stories. The resulting fictional documentary is a human and touching portrait of reality in Iran.  

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Offside (2006) 

Dir. Jafar Panahi

The story of a group of young women who decide to do whatever it takes to sneak into a World Cup football match even though it is forbidden for them because of their gender. 

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Where Is the Friend’s Home? (1987) 

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

This heartfelt movie about a young boy who tries to return his friend’s notebook to him, so he can do his homework, was ranked among the 100 best foreign films of all time by a BBC critics’ poll in 2018. 

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Persepolis (2007) 

Dir. Marjane Sartrapi 

Perhaps the most popular and beloved Iranian film around the world, Marjane Sartrapi’s masterpiece is a black-and-white animated film based on her autobiographical graphic novel. It follows her childhood in Tehran and her teenage years in Europe. 

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Taste of Cherry (1997) 

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

This Palm D’Or-winning movie tells the story of a man who is planning the end of his life. 

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Read more:

7 Movies That Have A 0% Rating On Rotten Tomatoes

 

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