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Khastegari + Akharin Shab

Courtship + The Last Night

Followed by a talk with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa (online)

Khastegari (Courtship)
Ebrahim Golestan, Iran 1961, 10 min. English, DCP (German premiere of the new restoration by Cineteca di Bologna)

Akharin Shab (The Last Night)
Hossein Daneshvar, Iran 1955, 92 min. Farsi with English subtitles, digital

Golestan's sketch for a 4 episode TV documentary about the rites of courtship, Khastegari demonstrates a marvelous use of mise-en-scène, allowing history, religion and contemporary society to meet in dense, clever metaphorical imagery. It is the only film in which the late poet Forough Farrokhzad acted.

Akharin Shab is a well-crafted melodrama centered on Monir, a woman who marries a respected lawyer after her rogue fiancé is sent to prison. When her former fiancé is released, Monir gets blackmailed, a living nightmare that can be put to an end only with the help of an actress. A successful, Hollywood-influenced blend of genres which features many key themes of Iranian popular cinema of the period (including chastity, marriage, double identity, women's freedom and the affirmation of virtue), Akharin Shab offers a rare and fascinating image of the birth of the new middle class during the second Pahlavi's reign.

Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa is a filmmaker and a professor at the Cinema and Television Arts Department, School of Media Arts, Columbia College Chicago. She is a co-founder and since 1989 the artistic consultant of the annual Festival of Films from Iran. She has written extensively on Iranian cinema and has co-authored a book on Abbas Kiarostami with Jonathan Rosenbaum.