“The film stopped and someone said the cinema was on fire.” In 1979, Islamists set fire to the cinema Rex in Abadan, heralding it as a turning point in the Islamic revolution and the end of Iranian post-war cinema. 422 people died. “Filmfarsi” is a term for the popular Iranian low-budget films, which came to an end with this event. They are hybrids of recycled and re-coded genre cinema, neither fully film, nor fully farsi. In his archaeology of VHS bootlegs, Eshan Khoshbakht embarks on a search for the collective subconscious of a “nation with a split personality” and digs up sediments of machismo and homoeroticism, “madonnas” and “whores”, class conflicts, love, sex and violence.
Ehsan Khoshbakht is a London-based, Iranian documentary filmmaker, film curator and writer. He is the co-director of Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Italy. He has directed short documentaries on subjects ranging from Duke Ellington in the Middle East to Expressionist architecture and cinema. Architect by training, he has authored and edited numerous books on film.