I'm hoping to attend at least some of that series, Darrell.
You guys should've started a new thread for Iranian cinema--this is great.
And I must second the criticism of Majidi, who makes sentimental films about cute children and doesn't in any way match the social critique of a Panahi (The Circle
) or the philosophical artistry of a Kiarostami (The Wind Will Carry Us
). This is one reason why Majidi's films are officially sanctioned by the Iranian government (re: their Oscar submissions) when Panahi's films are banned, Kiarostami is criticized of making films for Western audiences, and feminist Tamineh Milani (curiously, an Ebert fav) is threatened with the death penalty. (Incidentally, it has also be noted that there is a greater ratio of women directors in Iran than there is in Hollywood.)
Majidi makes safe and polished works that don't challenge the viewer, which is fine in the way plenty of movies are made, but the real artists of Iranian cinema are ones like those I've mentioned above.
And Ebert, who has (dismissively) reviewed precisely two
Kiarostami movies in the past 20 years, should not be considered an expert on the subject in any way. Godfrey Cheshire, who wrote this fine introduction
to Iranian cinema, is a genuine authority.
And my friend Darren wrote these comments
, which I agree with Mike is simply one astounding film. (As is Kiarostami's earthquake trilogy, available from Facets.org distribution.)
I'd also highly recommend Marzieh Meshkini's wonderful The Day I Became a Woman
(on DVD in the UK).