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Hamid Naficy
Rice University (Houston, TX 77005-1827)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$24,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2005 – 12/31/2005

A Social History of the Iranian Cinema in the Twentieth Century

This book is a social history of cinema in Iran during the 20th century. Began in 1900, this cinema evolved from an artisanal cottage-industry, patronized by the elite, into a robust semi-industrialized industry whose output in the 1990s surpassed that of Germany and England and whose filmmakers won Western film festivals’ top prizes. This evolution was not inevitable, however, for although modernity was overdetermined, there were social forces, including Shii Islam, conservative peasant traditions, illiteracy, gender inequality, technological and professional inadequacies, and censorship, which impeded it. Yet, these social forces and the arts and performance traditions gave this cinema its specific characteristics and aesthetics.