Spring 2021 - CA 316 E100

Intermediate Selected Topics in Cinema Studies (4)

New Iranian Cinema

Class Number: 8103

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    9 units in CA (or FPA) courses including CA (or FPA) 136 or 137.



An intermediate course in critical studies in cinema addressing a variety of topics. This course can be repeated once for credit if the topic is different. Students with credit for CA (or FPA) 337 may not take this course for further credit.


The New Iranian Cinema has received world wide critical attention, wining regular awards at prestigious film festivals around the globe, such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance, and Toronto film festivals. The Toronto film festival hailed Iranian cinema as “one of the pre-eminent national cinemas” of the world. The aesthetic qualities and cinematic themes that helped create the Iranian New Wave (mouj-e nuw), were influenced by Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave, but Iranian Cinema developed its own distinctive style, informed by a visual poetics and language that brings together the rich history of Iranian art forms such as drama (ta’ziyeh), poetry and visual culture. After the 1979 revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, new guidelines were established by the state to ensure that films made in Iran were produced according to the codes and conventions of an Islamic “system of modesty” (hejab in its broadest sense). Paradoxically, these censorship rules enabled filmmakers to create a new filmic grammar, which in a constant negotiation with state censors, contributed to a visual aesthetics that is distinctive to Iranian cinema. Some of the motifs that runs through New Iranian Cinema are the blurring of documentary and narrative fiction, the use of non-professional actors, and the staging of socio-political problems, such as gender and economic inequality, representation of women, sexuality, and other similar issues that frame the tensions that run through Iranian society and politics. This course is an introduction to some of the seminal films and filmmakers that constitute the New Iranian Cinema. Particular attention will be paid to how Iranian cinema has, despite the censorship conditions, developed a unique cinematic language to critique and subvert the dominant ideology of the Islamic Republic. In spite of the censorship codes, New Iranian Cinema stands as one of the great cinema movements of the world.


  • First Short Essay 25%
  • Second Short Essay 25%
  • Final Term Paper 40%
  • Attendance and Participation 10%



Naficy, Hamid. A Social History of Iranian Cinema: Volume 4. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012
ISBN: 9780822348788

Tapper, Richard. Ed. The New Iranian Cinema: Politics, Representation, and Identity. London: I. B. Tauris, 2004
ISBN: 9781860648045

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).