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UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema: Filmfarsi

November 13, 2020 - 12:00 am to November 19, 2020 - 11:59 pm

UCLA Film & Television Archive and Farhang Foundation are pleased to present filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht’s illuminating essay film Filmfarsi (2019) as part of the Archive’s Virtual Screening Room. Filmfarsi will be available for streaming via our unique link from Friday, November 13 through Thursday, November 19. Admission is $10 and a portion of your purchase will support the Archive’s public programs.

Archive Members receive a $2 discount—if you’re not a Member, you can join online today!

Filmfarsi (2020)

The popular cinema that flourished in Iran under the Pahlavi regime between 1953 and 1979, a period bracketed by a coup and a revolution, exists now largely on poor quality, illegal VHS tapes. From these grainy, illicit sources, filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht draws the kaleidoscope of images that make up his sharp, critical history of “Filmfarsi,” proudly “Filmed in VHS Scope.” Khoshbakht’s deep familiarity and fascination with this period of Iranian cinema yields a tantalizing array of film clips and stars but this extended montage essay neither wholly nostalgic nor celebratory. A genre cinema that “starts at B and descends to the lower letters of the alphabet,” Filmfarsi, he argues, reflected the country’s “split-personality” back to an audience struggling to reconcile the internal social, cultural and political contradictions of the era. His typology of Filmfarsi characters and stories is a line up of mothers and whores, brutes and clowns, clashing in melodramas pitched to the emotional extremes. When the country exploded in the Islamic revolution, Khoshbakht reflects, “the cinemas were burned and their ghosts were let loose in the streets.”

Color, black and white, in English and Persian with English subtitles, 85 min. Director: Ehsan Khoshbakht. 

Special thanks to: Ehsan Khoshbakht; Grasshopper Films.

Presented in partnership with

Watch a trailer: 


Watch a recent conversation with filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht and Archive Film Programmer Paul Malcolm: