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Publisher Description

[1] Iranian Cinema has developed a thriving, compelling poetics of film in the past few decades--and this new cinema of Iran has been frequently cited to have begun with the 1969 Mehrjuri film The Cow (Gav). Since this time, an increasing number of films and filmmakers have contributed to the growing international circulation of and discussion about Iranian Cinema. Works from, in particular, Abbas Kiarastami have taken a front position in the growing area of World Cinema Studies. Other directors, such as Mohsen Makhmalbaf, his daughter Samira Makhmalbaf, and more recently the Kurdish-Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi have made their own contributions, and the list is still growing. Through the use of certain themes and stories, shots and pacing, a narrative style has developed outside of certain Hollywood tendencies of Western-dominated cinematic forms. (1) Some of the more notable features of this cinema have been the use of untrained actors, simple or direct cinematography, minimal or highly selective uses of music, both diegetic and non-diegetic, and stories of children. Many critics have also pointed to the "humanistic" elements of Iranian cinema, and the degree to which they stand in contrast with the popular media-driven images of Iran as a dictatorial, fundamentalist, supremely repressive Islamic state. [2] While much critical acclaim has been given to works by Iranian directors of late, Majijd Majidi retains the distinction of having been the only nominee for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1998 with Children of Heaven. The work of Majidi reflects a particularly compelling place in both the more recently lauded Iranian cinema and with regard to the particular aesthetics or poetics of Iranian Cinema. In particular, Majidi, as will be discussed here, consistently reflects a theme that may be best described as spiritual poverty, a central theme in the work of Jalal al-Din Rumi, the 13th century Sufi poet. The confluence of Majidi's work and the Persian poetic tradition and, in particular, the Sufi themes in these works is something that Majidi himself has alluded to. When asked in an interview about the influence of religion in the "humanistic integrity" of his work, Majidi responded by suggesting that the influence of poets such as Hafiz, Saadi, and Rumi assign a great importance to the human being and that "contemporary cultural subjects are stemming from this tradition as well as the rituals associated with them." (2) The work of Rumi, who has become increasingly well-known in the West, exemplifies the qualities and emphases of particular Sufi worldview and discourse. Informed by Islamic and, in particular, Sufi principles and practices, Rumi reflects what become the key terms and tropes in Classical Sufism.

Religion & Spirituality
October 1
University of Nebraska at Omaha, Department of Philosophy and Religion

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