Kamran Shirdel (b. 1939)
Nedamatgah (Women's Prison) (1965)
Tehran Is the Capital of Iran (1966)
Qaleh (The Women's Quarter) (1966)
The Night It Rained or The Epic of Gorgan Village Boy (1967)
Kamran Shirdel (born in 1939) studied architecture, urbanism, design and film direction at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (CSC) in Rome. During his Roman studies he had the opportunity to have such great figures as Roberto Rossellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Nanni Loy, Francesco Rosi, Gillo Pontecorvo and many others as his direct teachers. His thesis film was a short called The Mirrors. During this time he also worked as an assistant on John Huston's The Bible, which was then shooting at the famed Cinecitta studios.
After graduating in 1965, Shirdel returned to Tehran and started directing documentaries for the Ministry of Culture and Art. Over the next three years he directed his most renowned socio-political documentaries, six films that courageously and frankly revealed the darker side of Iran's economic boom, analyzing the effects of a society of flush with oil money. These films were steeped in a deep social consciousness reminiscent of the best of the Italian Neo-realist tradition, the cinema that had influenced him deeply during his studies in Italy. Shirdel's furious documentaries and cinematic language were a bone of contention both under the Shah and following his exile, because they spoke up for the underprivileged and, in doing so, exposed and criticized the corruption of the mechanism of power.
Because of the severe censorship, nearly all his films were banned and confiscated, and in the end he was expelled from The Ministry and put on the blacklist. Seven years after it was made (and censored), his The Epic of the Gorgani Village Boy (The Night It Rained!), after receiving the GRAN PRIX at The Third Tehran International Film Festival (1974), was immediately banned again and remained so (like his Nedamatgah (Women's Prison, 1965), Qaleh (Women's Quarter, 1966), Tehran Is the Capital of Iran (1966), and others) until after the revolution. His first (and, to date, only complete) feature film, The Morning of the Fourth Day (1972), a remake of Jean-Luc Godard's A bout de souffle, won a few awards at the Sepas National Film Festival. Three years later his second feature film The Camera, based upon Nikolai Gogol's "General Inspector," was censored while still shooting and thus remains unfinished.
Shirdel, forbidden from pursuing his interest in observing and analyzing his society, was forced to turn his creative and technical talent to the making of a great number of commissioned and institutional films; a fertile production of highly praised industrial and educational films.
Kamran Shirdel is considered a father figure of Iran's NEW cinema and documentary school of filmmaking. He paved the way for a type of social and critical documentary film in Iran that refused to be misused by presenting a politically documented and accurate reflection of reality.
Many famed Iranian cineastes, such as Abbas Kiarostami, Amir Naderi, Jafar Panahi, Rakhshan Banietemad, Mohammad Reza Aslani, Khosrow Masooumi, Mahvash Sheikholeslami, and Soudabeh Babagap, have been his pupils or worked directly with him during their formative years. Shirdel's films are considered to be veritable references for the social documentary and filmmaking in Iran. His films have been widely shown in famous international film festivals and a series of retrospectives have been dedicated to him and his works (Moscow, Krakow, Leipzig, Florence, Paris, Lisbon, Berlin, Stuttgart, Montreal, Toronto, Beirut, Sicily, Rome, London, UCLA, Chicago, Locarno, etc.).
He has also served in selection committees and as a jury member in many international festivals in Iran and abroad. He has been awarded in many of these festivals either for his films or for his lifetime achievements, such as LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD he received during the Lebanese DOCUDAYS in November of 2003.
Kamran Shirdel is the founder and director of FILMGRAFIC CO. and also KISH INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL (KIDFF), the only independent documentary film festival in Iran.
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