Iranian director Bani-Etemad among female historymakers of cinema

Iranian director Bani-Etemad among female historymakers of cinema

Iranian acclaimed film director and screenwriter Rakhshan Bani-Etemad was picked by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) among the women whose work contributed to the history of cinema.

Celebrating Women’s History Month (March 1-31), IMDb published a video on Twitter to take a look back at “cinematic history in salute of the pioneering women directors and their groundbreaking work,” the online entertainment database tweeted along the video that featured scenes of Bani-Etemad’s 2014 drama, Tales (Ghesseh-ha).

Born in Tehran in 1954, Bani-Etemad – who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in film studies from the Dramatic Arts University in Tehran – is widely considered as the most important female director in Iran, titled ‘First Lady of Iranian Cinema’.

Her movies and documentaries picture social and cultural issues and complications in modern-day Iran.

The Tales – which adopts an episodic narrative – portrays the fates of seven characters of Bani-Etemad’s previous flicks.

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گزارش امروز فرانك آرتا در روزنامه شرق از مجموعه #كارستان : بنی‌اعتماد: معتقد نیستم ایده‌ها جرقه‌ای هستند که ناگهان به ذهن آدم خطور می‌کنند. طبیعتا دغدغه‌ها و موضوعاتی که پیش‌تر به دلایل مختلف ذهن را به خود مشغول کرده‌اند، زمانی بعدتر به صورت یک ایده خود را نشان می‌دهند. درواقع «کارستان» وجه دیگری از دغدغه‌های من در کارهای دیگر سینمایی و مستندم است. به همان اندازه که اعتقاد دارم در سینمای اجتماعی مستند یا داستانی پرداختن به معضلات، نارسایی‌ها، کاستی‌ها و آسیب‌ها مهم‌اند، در کنارش این ایده که خواهم گفت چطور شکل گرفت هم اهمیت دارد. زمانی فکر می‌کردم در برابر همه این نارسایی‌ها، مشکلات و معضلاتی که وجود دارد کسانی هستند که با دغدغه‌های شخصی، ولی با رویکرد بهبودبخشی وضعیت جامعه با همه موانعی که پیش‌رویشان وجود دارد سعی می‌کنند جهان خود و پیرامونشان را بهبود ببخشند. البته اینها کسانی نیستند که از اول فکر می‌کنند رسالتشان تغییر جهان است؛ ایده‌ای که فکر می‌کنم الان به اشکال مختلف در تفکرات مختلف جهان مدرن هم شکل می‌گیرد که اگر از اصلاح پیرامون خودمان شروع کنیم، جزیره‌های کوچک به اقیانوس تبدیل می‌شوند. شروع شکل‌گیری این ایده به آشنایی من با «بنیاد توسعه کارآفرینی زنان و جوانان» از طریق خانم «فیروزه صابر»، زمانی که تازه ‌تأسیس شده بود، برمی‌گردد.

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The film won the award for Best Screenplay (written by Bani-Etemad and Farid Mostafavi) at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.

It also brought Bani-Etemad the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger Award – dedicated to best film – at Kolkata International Film Festival in 2014, as well as the Special Jury Prize at Asia Pacific Screen Awards (Australia) in the same year.

Also featured in IMDb’s short video were the likes of Sofia Coppola, Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Chinese-American film director Lulu Wang, Sarah Polley, and Barbra Streisand.

Rakhshan Banietemad

Rakhshan Banietemad, born in 1954 Tehran, began to make documentaries for the Iranian National Television in 1979, right after graduating from the University of Dramatic Arts, Tehran. From 1979 to 1987 she focused on making only documentaries. In 1987, she directed her first feature film Off the Limits. In 1991, she became the first woman recipient of the Best Director award for Nargess at Fajr International Film Festival in Iran. In 1995, she won the Bronze Leopard for The Blue Veiled at the Locarno Film Festival. Under the Skin of the City, her next film, was the highest grossing film in Iran in 2000. This film along with Gilaneh (2005) and Mainline (2006), garnered major awards in more than 50 film festivals.

While Banietemad’s feature films have been acclaimed and honored worldwide, her documentaries have also been successful and popular internationally. Our Times …, was the first documentary ever to be released in the movie theatres in Iran in 2002. It was also screened in highly prestigious and prominent festivals and TV channels such as IDFA, Sundance Film Festival and ARTE.

Banietemad started her work by making documentaries and has never ended the strong connection she has always had with her works. Making documentaries have been her main way of connecting with the society and social issues. Her approach and in depicting social issues has been so strong and effective that her works have always resulted in causing change in the lives of her documentaries’ characters.

In 2008, she received an honorary doctorate from University of London, in 2010, she was awarded the Prix Henri Langlois from Vincennes International Film Festival. Her latest feature film, Tales, was awarded the Best Screenplay prize in the main competition section of 2014 Venice International Film Festival.

More recently, she has joined the Academy Oscar, Writers branch in 2017.

Feature Films

  • Tales (Ghesseh ha), 2014
  • Heiran (producer), Director: Shalizeh Arefpour, 2009
  • Mainline (Khun bazi), 2006
  • Gilaneh, 2005
  • Under the Skin of the City (Zir-e pust-e shahr), 2000
  • Baran and the Native (Baran va bumi), part of feature-film Kish, 1998
  • The May Lady (Banu-ye ordibehesht), 1997
  • The Blue Veiled (Rusari abi), 1994
  • Nargess, 1991
  • Foreign Currency (Poul-e khareji), 1989
  • Canary Yellow (Zard-e qanari), 1988
  • Off the Limits (Kharej az mahdudeh), 1987


  • Touran Khanom, Co director, 2018
  • Karestan Documentary films as follows (Artistic consultant), 2013 -17  Film 1. Poets of Life
     Film 2. Puzzleys
     Film 3. Mother of the Earth
     Film 4. MAHAK: A World She Founded
     Film 5. Friends at Work
     Film 6. Flax to Fire
  • Hey, Humans (Ay, Adamha), 2016
  • A Lifetime in an Hour (Yek saat az yek omr), 2015
  • All My Trees (Hameh derakhtan-e man), 2015
  • The Other Side of Mirrors (An sooy-e ayeneh ha), 2014
  • The Mirrors Recital (Concert-e ayeneh ha), 2014
  • The Concert of the Lords of Secrets (concert-e khodavandan-e asrar), 2014
  • Mahak My Home (Khaneh man Mahak), a teamwork, 2014
  • Keep Children in School (Bacheh ha ra dar madreseh negahdarim), a teamwork, 2012
  • The Room No. 202 (Otahgh-e 202) Part of “Kahrizak 4 Views”, 2012
  • See you Tomorrow Elina (Farda mibinamet Elina), 2010
  • We Are Half of Iran’s Population (Ma nimi az jameiat-e Iranim), 2009
  • Angels of the House of Sun (Hayat khalvate khaneh khorshid), 2009
  • Second Home (producer), Director: Mahvash Sheikholeslami, 2008
  • 3D Carpet (Farsh-e 3 Bodi), Part of “Iranian Carpet”, 2007
  • Our Times… (Ruzegar-e ma…), 2002
  • Under the Skin of the City (Zir-e pust-e shahr), 1996
  • The Last Visit with Iran Daftari (Akharin didar ba Iran Daftari), 1995
  • To Whom Do You Show These Films? (In filmha ra beh ki neshun midin?), 1993
  • Spring to Spring (Bahar ta bahar), 1993
  • The 1992 Report (Gozaresh-e 71), 1993
  • Centralization (Tamarkoz), 1986
  • The War Economic Planning (Tadbirha-ye eqtesadi-e jang), 1981
  • Occupation of Migrant Peasants in the City (Mohajerin-e roustai dar shahr),1980
  • The Culture of Consumption (Farhang-e masrafi), 1979
Rakhshan Bani-Etemad and his daughter Baran Kosari


  • Diploma of Honor of Child Book Council’s, Tehran, Iran, March 2018
  • Diploma of Honor of ‘Children’s Research Institute, Tehran, Iran, December 2018
  • Special Cinema Section Award, 2nd  Davood Rashidi Commemorative Award, Tehran, Iran, August  2018
  • Honorary Award, 7th Int’l Malatya FF (Turkey) 2017
  • Honorary Golden Cyclo, 23th Vesoul Film Festival (France), 2017
  • Ethics and Prayer Award for social and civilian activities (Iran), 2016
  • Cinema Honorary Award, 4th Int’l Women FF (Afghanistan), 2016
  • Cinema Honorary Award, 6th Int’l Crime & Punishment FF (Turkey), 2016
  • Best Film, Tales, Prague Iranian FF (Chezk), 2016
  • Audience Award, Tales, Gene Siskel Film Center (USA), 2015
  • Best Film, Tales, London Iranian FF (UK), 2015
  • Special Jury Prize, Tales, Asia Pacific Screen Awards (Australia), 2014
  • Best Film, Tales, Golden Royal Bengal Tiger Award, Kolkata Int’l FF (India), 2014
  • Best Screenplay prize, Tales, Venice Int’l FF (Italy), 2014
  • Special Jury Prize, Kahrizak 4 views, Dubai Int’l FF (UAE), 2012
  • Prix Henri Langlois, Vincennes Int’l FF (France), 2010
  • Special Jury Prize, We Are Half of Iran’s Population, (WIFTS) (USA), 2009
  • Special Jury Prize & Best Actress, Mainline, Dhaka Int’l FF (Pakistan), 2009
  • Best Screenplay & Best Actress, Mainline, Pyongyang Int’l FF (North Korea), 2008
  • Grand Jury Prize, Mainline. Int’l Women’s Film Festival (Creteil, France), 2008
  • Achievement in Directing, Mainline, Asia Pacific Screen Awards (Australia), 2007
  • Best Director & Best Actress, Mainline, Iran Cinema House Awards (Iran), 2007
  • Best Director & Best Actress, Mainline, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 2007
  • Best Film, Mainline, City Int’l FF (Iran), 2006
  • Best Film, Mainline, Asiatica Film Mediale (Italy), 2006
  • Special Jury Prize, Gilaneh, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Int’l FF (Spain), 2006
  • Netpac Award, Gilaneh, Vesoul Asian Film Festival (France), 2006
  • Golden Lotus Award, Iranian Women Film Directors (Iran), 2006
  • Best Film & Best Actress, Gilaneh, Kara Int’l FF (Pakistan), 2005
  • Artistic & Cultural Achievement Award, Kara Int’l FF (Pakistan), 2004
  • Special Jury Award, Under the Skin of the City, Seattle Int’l FF (USA), 2002
  • Netpac Award, Our Times…, Locarno Int’l FF (Swiss), 2002
  • Netpac Award, Under the Skin of the City, Karlovy Vary Int’l FF (Chezk), 2001
  • Holden Award for Best Script, Audience Award, & Cinemavvenire Award for Best Feature Film, Under the Skin of the City, Turin Int’l FF (Italy), 2001
  • Special Jury Prize, Under the Skin of the City, Moscow Int’l FF (Russia), 2000
  • Special Jury Award, The May Lady, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 1998
  • Honorable Mention, FIPRESCI Award, The May Lady, Montreal Int’l FF (Canada), 1998
  • Prince Claus Prize for Culture and Development (The Netherlands), 1998
  • “Il Sindaco di Firenze” Peace and Freedom Award (Italy), 1998
  • Best Asian Woman Director, The Blue Veiled, India Int’l FF (India), 1996
  • FIPRESCI Award, The Blue Veiled, Tessaloniki Int’l FF (Greece), 1996
  • Bronze Leopard, The Blue Veiled, Locarno Int’l FF (Swiss) 1995
  • Best Script & Best Supporting Actress, The Blue Veiled, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 1994
  • Best Director & Best Musical Score, Nargess, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 1991
  • Best Supporting Actor, Canary Yellow, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 1988
  • Best Film, Off the Limits, Comedy Int’l FF (Italy), 1987


  • Jury Member, Dhaka Int’l FF Bangladesh), 2020
  • President of the jury, Herat Film Festival (Afghanistan), 2019
  • Jury Member, Mumbai Int’l FF (India), 2018
  • Jury Member, Venice Int’l FF (Italy), 2017
  • Academy Oscars Member, Writers Branch, 2017
  • President of the jury, Vesoul Film Festival (France), 2017
  • President of the jury, Prague Iranian Film Festival (Czech), 2017
  • President of the jury, Image Film Festival (Iran), 2016
  • President of the jury, Cinema Verite Int’l FF (Iran), 2013
  • President of the jury, Busan Int’l FF (South Korea), 2013
  • Master Class, California Institute of the Arts (USA), 2013
  • Jury Member, Shanghai Int’l FF (China), 2012
  • Jury Member, Dubai Int’l FF (UAE), 2010
  • Jury Member, Asiatic Film Mediale Festival (Italy), 2010
  • Master Class, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (USA), 2010
  • Jury Member, Fribourg Int’l FF (Switzerland), 2010
  • Jury Member, Urban Int’l FF (Iran), 2009
  • Producer, Heiran, feature-film (Iran), 2009
  • Producer, Second House, documentary (Iran), 2008
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of London (Iran), 2008
  • Master Class, School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS (England), 2008
  • Master Class, Geneva University of Art & Design (ESBA), 2008
  • Jury Member, Cinema Verite Int’l FF (Iran), 2007
  • Jury Member, Women’s Film Festival (Iran), 2006
  • Jury Member, Asian Cinema, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 2006
  • Jury Member, Art University Student Festival (Iran), 2005
  • Director, Sony Young Directors Film Festival (Iran), 2003
  • Jury Member, Asia Pacific Film Festival (Iran), 2003
  • Jury Member, Sony Young Directors Film Festival (Iran), 2002
  • Jury Member, Moscow Int’l FF (Russia), 2002
  • Jury Member, Cairo Int’l FF (Egypt), 2002
  • Jury Member, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 2001
  • Jury Member, Montreal Int’l FF (Canada), 2001
  • Jury Member, Youth Film Festival (Iran), 2001
  • Jury Member, Student Film Festival (Iran), 1999
  • Jury Member, Leipzig Int’l FF (Germany), 1999
  • Jury Member, Tokyo Environmental Int’l FF, (Japan), 1998
  • Jury Member, New Delhi Int’l FF (India), 1998
  • Jury Member, Student Film Festival (Iran), 1997
  • Jury Member, Locarno Int’l FF (Swiss), 1996
  • Jury Member, Turin Int’l FF (Italy), 1995
  • Jury Member, Center for Iranian Film Directors (Iran), 1993
  • Jury Member, Roshd Film Festival (Iran), 1992
  • Jury Member, Fajr Int’l FF (Iran), 1990


KARA Film Studio is a name under which a group of professional Iranian filmmakers express their common concerns regarding humanistic, social and cultural issues through documentary films, while maintaining their own diverse and distinct vision. In KARA Film Studio, filmmakers in small or large numbers, gather together and, starting with an outline of a documentary project, complete the work in a professional manner.

KARA Film Studio operates under a number of principles: personal financing or financing through private sector; working as teams and in a workshop from development of an idea through to its completion and distribution; giving young and talented documentary filmmakers an opportunity to work with professionals and assistance with their development, due respect for the audience by maintaining high standards in the production phase, endeavor to provide improved and increased means of screening films inside and outside Iran; …
Rakhshan Banietemad and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb are the constant participants in this group.

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