In the wake of the disputed Presidential election in Iran, film fans might find it interesting to take a look at Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution. Directed by Nader T. Homayoung, the documentary provides an overview of Iranian cinema, spending most of its time on milestones -- both positive and negative -- from the past 40 years. SnagFilms has made it available for free online viewing.
Starting in 1997, Iranian cinema became "an international phenomenon," as Jeffrey M. Anderson wrote in his wonderful, extensive primer for GreenCine, "a New Wave on par with the French movement of the 1950s and 60s, the German movement of the 60s and 70s and the Hong Kong movement of the 80s and 90s." But Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution makes it clear that the country's cinema was flourishing in the late 60s and 70s, producing a flock of vital, progressive pictures that received little attention outside the local territory. Tantalizing glimpses of these films are featured, suggesting that further exploration would indeed be worthwhile. That all came crashing down with the ascendance of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.
Khomeini's rule led to the idea of "Islamically-correct cinema," or as filmmakers interviewed in the documentary described them, "films about people in absolute poverty," preferably without any women. Some filmmakers found a way to express themselves artistically within the limitations imposed, eventually gaining international recognition, while nearly everyone was frustrated with censorship issues. The doc is very straightforward -- talking head interviews, archival footage, narration -- but the subject carries the day.