Dariush Mehrjui

Dariush Mehrjui

Dariush Mehrjui (born 8.12.1939, Tehran)
As an Iranian New Wave cinema icon, Mehrjui is regarded to be one of the intellectual directors of Iranian cinema.[citation needed] Most of his films are inspired by literature and adopted based on Iranian and foreign novels and plays.
During Mehrjui's childhood, he showed interest in painting miniatures, music, and playing santoor and piano. As an adult, he moved to the United States and entered the University of California, Los Angeles' (UCLA) Department of Cinema. Jean Renoir was just one of many who taught Mehrjui. Eventually, he switched his major to philosophy and graduated from UCLA in 1964.
Dariush Mehrjui made his debut in 1966 with Diamond 33. His second featured film, Gaav, brought him national and international recognition. Gaav, a compelling symbolic drama, is about a simple villager and his nearly mythical attachment to his cow. The story of the film was from renowned Iranian literary figure Gholamhossein Sa’edi. The film's score was composed by musician Hormoz Farhat. In 1971, the film was smuggled out of Iran and submitted to the Venice Film Festival where, without programming or subtitles, it became the largest event of that year’s festival. The film was a turning point in the history of Iranian cinema. The public received it with great enthusiasm, despite the fact that it had ignored all the traditional elements of box office attraction. Several of Iran's prominent actors (Ezatolah Entezami, Ali Nassirian, Jamshid Mashayekhi, and Jafar Vali) played roles in the film.
In 1973 Mehrjui began directing what was to be his most acclaimed film. The Cycle was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture but encountered opposition from the Iranian medical establishment and was banned from release until 1977. It was universally admired abroad. The film won the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique (FIPRESCI) Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1978. During this same time, Mehrjui found himself unable to work in Iran. He sojourned in California for a while before returning to Iran after the Iranian revolution. Mehrjui then directed The Backyard (1980). In 1981, he traveled to Paris and remained there for several years, during which he made a feature-length semi-documentary for French TV, Voyage au Pays de Rimbaud (1983). Feeling homesick, he returned to Tehran in 1985.
In Hamoun (1990), a portrait of an intellectual whose life is falling apart, Mehrjui sought to depict his generation's post-revolutionary turn from politics to mysticism. Hamoun was voted the best Iranian film ever by readers and contributors to the Iranian journal Film Monthly. In 1995, Mehrjui made Pari, an unauthorized loose film adaptation of J. D. Salinger's book Franny and Zooey. Though the film could be distributed legally in Iran since the country has no official copyright relations with the United States, Salinger had his lawyers block a planned screening of the film at Lincoln Center in 1998. Mehrjui called Salinger's action "bewildering," explaining that he saw his film as "a kind of cultural exchange." His follow-up film, 1997's Leila, is a melodrama about an urban, upper-middle-class couple who learn that the wife is unable to bear children.
Modern Iranian cinema begins with Dariush Mehrjui. Mehrjui introduced realism, symbolism, and the sensibilities of art cinema. His films have some resemblance with those of Rosselini, De Sica and Satyajit Ray, but he also added something distinctively Iranian, in the process starting one of the greatest modern film waves.
The one constant in Mehrjui's work has been his attention to the discontents of contemporary, primarily urban, Iran. His film The Pear Tree (1998) has been hailed as the apotheosis of the director's examination of the Iranian bourgeoisie.
Since his film The Cow in 1969, Mehrjui, along with Nasser Taghvaee and Masoud Kimiai, has been instrumental in paving the way for the Iranian cinematic renaissance, so called the "Iranian New Wave."

Diamond 33 (Almaas 33, 1966), The Cow (Gaav, 1969), The Postman (Postchi, 1970), Mr. Naive (Aghaye Hallou, 1970), The Cycle (Dayereh mina, 1978), The School We Went to (Hayate Poshti Madreseye Adl-e-Afagh, 1980), Voyage au pays De Rimbaud (1983), The Tenants (Ejareh-Nesheenha, 1986), Shirak (1988), Hamoun (1990), Sara (1993), Pari (1995), Leila (1996), The Pear Tree (Derakhte Golabi, 1998), The Lady (Baanoo, 1999), The Mix (2000), Tales of an Island (2000, segment "Dear Cousin Is Lost"), To Stay Alive (Bemani, 2002), Mehman-e maman (2004), Fereshte va farsh (2006), Santoori (2007).




 Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation
Festival Coverage