Understanding the People of Iran Through Films

Aug 19, 2020 | Newsletter

“The highest result of education is tolerance.”

Helen Keller


Many consider Iran to be an intransigent theocracy, spewing hate-America tirades, developing nuclear weapons to destroy its enemies, and passing laws that denigrate women. Unfortunately, much of that is true. But what is not often broadcasted on the evening news is what the local, ordinary people are like:  husbands working long hours in menial jobs to support their families;  housewives carefully watching their budgets as they shop for food and clothes; children happily playing soccer in school yards. Remarkably, and fortunately, from this environment, Iran  produced talented, innovative, courageous filmmakers respected and admired the world over.  These filmmakers became adept in dodging   ruthless government censors and making films that were on the edge but didn’t violate Iranian laws.  They faced  dangerous challenges but that did not deter these intrepid filmmakers.

Here are four superb examples:


Children of Heaven​​

Children of Heaven is primarily about Ali and Zahra, a brother and sister, in an impoverished family, who create a big problem  they do not want their parents to know about…


About Elly

The film, About Elly, begins when a group of three married couples, their three children, Ahmad, a recently divorced young man, and Elly, the attractive, single teacher…


The Salesman​

Emad and Rana are ordered to leave their apartment building as it was on the verge of collapsing. Fortunately, Babak, a friend in their acting group, helps them find another apartment…



A construction site in Teheran managed by Memar employs many Afghan refugees. They have no identity cards, are illegal, and work cheaply.  Lateef, a 17-year-old…


Coming Soon, Can’t Wait

Aug 14: Platform TBD. The Personal History of David Copperfield. Dev Patel in a reimagining of the classic Charles Dickens novel through the comedic lens of Armando Iannucci.
Aug 21: HBOMax. Chemical Hearts. Emotional coming-of-age story
Sep 04: Disney+. The Beatles: Get Back. A documentary that chronicles the Beatles recording of their 1970 album, Let It Be.
Sep 25: Netflix. The Trial of the Chicago 7. Aaron Sorkin directing the seven men charged with conspiracy during the anti-Vietnam war protests.
Dec 18: Platform TBD. West Side Story. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Broadway classic. 
Opening TBD, 2021: Netflix. Diana: A Musical

News & Commentary

Last month, the film industry was startled when Universal signed an agreement with AMC, the largest U.S. theatrical chain, to reduce the window between the day a film begins its theatrical run and the day the film is available on the digital outlets. Universal will be reducing the window from 75 days to 17 days. This agreement should not have been a surprise. Back in April, Jeff Shell, CEO of Universal, emphatically stated that “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.” Shell’s pronouncement intimated to theaters that they were no longer the priority or equal players. 

Several reasons for this development and why it will be followed by other Hollywood studios:

  1. They can gross as much, if not more, with a digital run. Universal’s premium VOD release of “Trolls World Tour” generated $100 million in 2019 in the first three weeks–more than the original “Trolls” did in a similar time in 2017.
  2. Universal gets a bigger cut of the gross, around 50% from theatrical runs vs around 80% from digital runs.
  3. Films on digital outlets can be  accessed in almost every major country around the world.
  4. Costs are less providing films to the digital outlets vs. providing films to the theaters.
  5. Unlike a theatrical run, a film can remain on a digital platform for years.
  6. Lastly, because of the pandemic,  studios are beginning to realize that patrons are beginning to enjoy the convenience and the money-saved streaming films at home.


My best,


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