The salesman 2016

Whether you are a cinephile or just interested in watching movies from time to time, it’s very much likely that while watching a movie you thought to yourself “One day I will travel to this place”. That’s one of the positive impacts of movies that they can broaden your mind and inspire you to discover and learn more about different countries and cultures. Today, Iranian movies are widely recognized and over the past three decades, Iranian movies have received enormous international attention and success, both from critics and the public. If you are interested in learning about Iran through Iranian cinema or you have decided to fill out Iran visa application form, here is a list of Cannes and Oscar winners to some classic movies with special emphasis on the most important Iranian directors to catch up on if you’re not familiar with Iran’s cinematic past and present. Check out these movies that worth watching and will help you understand Iran a bit better:

  1. Taste of Cherry (1997)

Abbas Kiarostami’s masterpiece taste of cherry is about a depressed man driving through the countryside looking for someone to help him commit suicide, he picks up three different passengers and engages them in conversations. This Palme d’Or winner themes are friendship, despair, and our long quest for meaning in life. The point that the taste of cherry makes about life is that it’s not something to be interpreted or analyzed it’s something to be experienced so that it can be appreciated.

The taste of cherry_Iranian movies to watch

Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry, Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

What makes this film worth watching?

The late Iranian director Kiarostami is considered by many to be among the world’s greatest filmmakers. Not only he was praised by some of the most iconic international film directors, but also almost every individual in Iran knows him and cherishes him. And his style has been a source of inspiration for many other directors around the world, therefore if you are interested in art-house films almost all of his movies are among the best Iranian movies and highly recommended.


Currently, you can watch “Taste of Cherry” and some other Kiarostami movies streaming on Criterion Channel.

  1. A Separation (2011)

Asghar Farhadi’s film, one of the most successful ever made in Iran, is the first Iranian movie that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The movie takes place in present-day Tehran and tells a detailed story of a dispute between two Iranian families that takes place over a single week. It’s a morally complex story, depicting the rights and wrongs of each character’s journey. Even though it has a lot of universal themes, but it also offers an exceptional glimpse into Iran’s gender class-based society.

Asghar Farhadi

A separation, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate.

What makes this film worth watching?

Farhadi is a well-known two-time Academy Award winner and he’s the most famous and internationally acclaimed Iranian writer/director of the decade who altered the perception of what Iranian cinema had to offer. His movies masterfully illustrate the complexities of everyday life in contemporary Iran, so apart from A Separation make sure to check out his other features, especially Fireworks Wednesday (2006) About Elly (2009), and The Salesman (2016).


A Separation is currently available on Netflix.

  1. Mother (1990)

Ali Hatami’s Mother is one of the most beloved and respected Iranian movies, it is about a family who has gathered around in the last days of their mother’s life, placed in an old house with traditional architecture, while the siblings revive their childhood memories and, the old woman is preparing herself for her last journey. Characterization and emphasis on Iranian culture and identity are the main themes of this remarkable movie.

Ali Hatami’s Mother is one of the most beloved and respected Iranian movies

What makes this film worth watching?

Ali Hatami is the Master of Iranian National Cinema, he is known as “the most Iranian filmmaker” and because of the poetic ambiance of his movies he is called “the Hafez of Iranian cinema “. He had a distinctive style of filmmaking that consisted of melodious dialogues created through architecture and set design. He is like a national treasure for the Iranian people. Although some of his historical movies may not be so accessible for Non-Iranians because of language barriers, this one is relatable to everyone and is easier to grasp.


You can watch Mother with English subtitles on IMVBox

  1. Bashu, the Little Stranger (1986)

Bahram Beyzaie Iranian Maestro during the Iran-Iraq War released this groundbreaking film. Bashu is a teenage boy from southern Iran whose parents and young sister, perish in the course of the Iran-Iraq War. Fearing for his life, he hides in the back of a truck headed to northern Iran, by the Caspian Sea. Bashu falls fast asleep in the truck as when he wakes up, he finds himself in northern Iran. Upon arriving, Bashu meets two village children and their mother, Nai’i, who shelters and cares for him. This brisk and lively movie is a testament to the transforming power of love and its ability to transcend the limits of experience, education, and ethnicity.

Bashu,The little stranger by Bahram Beyzaei

Bashu an anti-war masterpiece, is an emotionally charged story of national solidarity in the face of conflict.

What makes this film worth watching?

Beyzaie is a leading Iranian playwright, filmmaker, and scholar of global performance traditions, cinema, and mythology. He is often considered the greatest playwright of the Persian language, and holds a reputation as “the Shakespeare of Persia”. He is an artist who always been way ahead of his time. He is a great, enigmatic cultural figure that his movies only represent a small part of his whole body of work. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the great value of his movies. Especially Bashu which is considered as one of the pioneering movies of the Iranian New Wave cinema and was voted the “Best Iranian Film of all time” in 1999 by a poll of 150 Iranian critics and professionals.


You can watch Bashu, the Little Stranger with English subtitle for free on YouTube:

  1. Mum’s Guest (2004)

Dariush Mehrjui’s festive, dark comedy follows the adventures of an underprivileged woman who wishes to impress her newlywed nephew and his wife with a kingly dinner. So not only her immediate family but also her neighbors come to her rescue because everyone realizes the importance of keeping up appearances in Iranian families. Despite the bleak subtext, it’s a tale of generosity and the spirit of cooperation and unity within communities.

Mum's guest Movie

Mum’s Guest_2004 by Dariush Mehrjooyi: One of the best Iranian movies

What makes this film worth watching?

Dariush Mehrjui is a prominent director of the Iranian New Wave cinema of the seventies. Many of his films are inspired by or adapted from world literature. He usually depicts societal and women’s issues and the contradictions between tradition and modernity in his features. This satirical comedy along with his other notable movies like The Cow (1969), The Cycle (1975), Hamoun (1989) which is considered a cult movie, and all his 90’s movies are a delight to watch.


You can watch Mum’s Guest with English subtitles on IMVBox

  1. Turtles Can Fly (2004)

Bahman Ghobadi’s devastating movie is set in a Kurdish refugee camp it concentrates on a handful of orphaned children and the desperate measures they have to take to survive in a milieu of death and destruction. He dedicated the movie to “to all the innocent children in the world – the casualties of the policies of dictators and fascists”

Turtles Can Fly_2004

Best of Iranian movies: Turtles Can Fly is a 2004 Kurdish war drama film written, produced, and directed by Bahman Ghobadi.

What makes this film worth watching?

Bahman Ghobadi is the most internationally acclaimed Kurdish film director of Iran, he usually depicts the stories of the Kurds through borders. His debut “Time for Drunken Horses” won the prize for the best first feature at the Cannes Film Festival.  This anti-war statement­ definitely worth watching even though it’s heartbreaking and painful. But if you think you may find it disturbing I recommend watching more recent Ghobadi movies like Half Moon (2006) or No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009)


You can watch Turtles Can Fly with English subtitles for free on YouTube.

  1. Tales (2014)

Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s latest film is a collection of stories of seven different characters who are linked by sharing struggles. it highlights the economic hardship­s, difficulties that working-class society has to face, from unemployed factory workers to poor or drug-addled women or those at risk of domestic violence.

Rakhshan Banietemad

Best of Iranian movies: Tales, a panorama of the lower depths of Tehran, where economic hardship, abuse, corruption, and drug addiction coexist.

What makes this film worth watching?

Bani-Etemad is called the “First Lady of Iranian Cinema,” she may not be as well-known outside Iran, but She is widely considered a leading female director in Iran, and her films have been praised at international festivals as well as being popular with Iranian critics and audiences. A recurrent theme in the Bani-Etemad’s work is her concern for women, and not just in relationship to men, but in their struggle to be mothers, lovers, and breadwinners. She is renowned for her humane and socially conscious storytelling. If you are interested in learning more about social issues in Iran, Tales, which won the Screenplay Award at the Venice Film Festival is a good movie to watch.


You can watch Tales with English subtitles on IMVBox.

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