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The Art of Social Realism in Rakhshan Banietemad’s Films

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Rakhshan Banietemad is an auteur Iranian director through the unique social realism she has developed in her films. While dealing with the harsh social realities of her subjects in the present day Iran, her films also offer a level of entertainment. Social realist films normally do not incorporate melodramatic narrative devices and employ stars, while they represent true to life characters and locations. Her socially critical films are also popular which one can argue is the result of casting well-known actors in addition to depicting tangible themes that speaks to the public. She combines her access and knowledge obtained through her research and documentary films to create a believable ‘realistic’ setting for her fictional films. Looking at her documentary body of work, Banietemad has been an artist in constant search for her next topic and has patiently developed her next feature film inspired by her documentaries. Although her auteurship is evident in her films through recurring links and themes, it is through her documentaries that we really see her critical and clever approach at work.

This paper will look at some of her lesser-known documentary works that Maryam Ghorbankarimi believes are the source and drive of her unique style of filmmaking. This paper will focus on her films Centralization (1986), To whom do you show these films? (1993), Under the Skin of this City (Documentary, 1996), Our Times (2002), We are half of Iran’s Population (2009), Mahak my Home (2014) to name a few.

External organisation

NameUniversity of Edinburgh
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom