Edinburgh Int’l Film Festival 2013: From Tehran to London

At the present crossroads, the conditions under which Iran’s national cinema is being made (or not being made, as is often the case) are as worthy of analysis as the films themselves. Precisely because Iranian filmmakers are currently under threat of artistic censorship and/or legal restriction (such as house arrest or even a prison sentence), however, their output has enjoyed an unquestioned critical status, as if an artist working within and against such suppression is by default a genius. As Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not a Film demonstrated last year, though, courage is not equable to insight. Condemnation of a political regime does not therefore preclude criticism of the art conditioned by it; for too long now, Iran’s more internationally celebrated filmmakers have, for numerous reasons, misplaced their focus and/or shirked the grander questions facing them.