26 years after it was banned and seized by the Iranian government, Mohsen Makhmalbaf's 'The Nights of Zayandeh-rood' finally receives the treatment it deserves: it screened in the Venice Classics section of Venice Film Festival last year, and now it is available to watch in cinemas and exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema.
The film centres on the struggles of a university lecturer and his daughter before, during and after the 1979 cultural revolution. Openly critical of the new regime's anti-intellectualism, authoritarianism and suppression of women, it's a miracle it got made in the first place and that it still exists, albeit in a fragmentary form. Following it’s premiere at Fajr Film Festival in Iran, the Iranian censorship cut more than half an hour from 'The Nights of Zayandah-rood' without the director’s consent. The film was then seized and banned by the government. In 2016 the original negatives were stolen from the censorship archives and smuggled out of Iran, allowing Makhmalbaf to restore his film.
Mohsen Makhmalbaf is one of the towering figures in Iranian cinema. Arguably more political than Abbas Kiarostami, the two directors nevertheless share a style of filmmaking that is both poetic and profoundly humane.
★★★★ "The great auteur’s controversial 1990 critique of Iranian society is a rich meditation on family life, the legacy of violence and lost love" - Leslie Felperin, The Guardian