ReFocus: The Films of Rakhshan Banietemad

Edited by Maryam Ghorbankarimi

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Offers the first English language book on the films and the career of Iranian director Rakhshan Banietemad
  • Devotes specific attention to Banietemad’s long career in documentary filmmaking, which has been neglected in much of the scholarly works thus far
  • Includes chapters by some of the most prominent scholars of Iranian cinema as well as younger scholars with fresh points of view
  • Situates Banietemad among world auteurs while still looking at her works within the Iranian context
  • Includes an in-depth interview with the director

Rakhshan Banietemad is one of the first female film directors in Iran. This book, the first English language study of her films and career, Iranian director Rakhshan Banietemad contains chapters by some of the most prominent scholars of Iranian cinema, as well as younger scholars with fresh points of view. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective, the book devotes special attention to Banietemad’s understudied documentaries and films, including Under the Skin of the City (2000) and Tales (2014), while offering new perspectives on well-known works such as The Blue Veiled (1994) and The May Lady (1997). Focusing on questions of aesthetics and poetics, social realism, gender dynamics and the ‘afterimages’ and ‘counter-memories’ of revolution and war, the book also includes an in depth interview with Banietemad herself.

AcknowledgementsList of FiguresNotes on ContributorsA Note on Transliteration and Style

Part I: Introduction

An Overview of Banietemad’s Career and Films - Maryam GhorbankarimiA Conversation with the Director - Maryam Ghorbankarimi

Part II: Aesthetics, Politics and Narrative Structure

1. From Black Comedies to Social Realism: Rakhshan Banietemad’s Early Feature Films - Farshad Zahedi2. Under the Skin of Society: Rakhshan Banietemad’s Social History of Post-Revolutionary Iran - Matthias Wittmann3. Tales and the Cinematic Divan of Rakhshan Banietemad - Michelle Langford4. The Artistic and Political Implications of the Meta-Cinematic in Rakhshan Banietemad’s Films - Zahra Khosroshahi

Part III: Gender, Love and Sexuality

5. Modes of Expression not Subject to the Law of Male Desire: Considering the Role of Voice-Over and Enunciation in the work of Rakhshan Banietemad - Rosa Holman6. Affective Listering, Sonic Intimacy and the Power of Quiet Voices in Rakhshan Banietemad’s the May Lady: Towards a Cinema of Empathy - Laudan Nooshin7. The Blue-Veiled: A semiological Analysis of a Social Love Story - Asal Bagheri8. Masculinitties in Banietemad’s Tales: Reshuffling Gender Dynamics Under Socioeconomic Pressures - Nina Khamsy9. Representing Sexuality on Screen in Walled Societies: A Comparative Analysis of Iranian Film (The May Lady) and Chinese Film (Army Nurse) - Yunzi Han

Part IV: Fact, Fiction and Society

10. Rakhshan Banietemad’s Art of Social Realism: Bridging Realism and Fiction - Maryam Ghorbankarimi11. Embracing All My Trees: an Ecocritical Reading - Fatemeh-Mehr Khansalar12. Hidden Transcripts of Subordinates and the Art of Resistance in Our Times - Bahar Abdi


Aspects of Iranian cinema—race, gender, class, social and artistic history—have been blessed with generations of groundbreaking scholarship. Maryam Ghorbankarimi’s edited volume brings together a collection of insightful essays on a seminal figure in Iranian cinema. With impeccable attention to details, full command of archival material, and inquisitive prose, these essays push the boundaries of the whole discipline of cinema studies to unprecedented levels. This book is a model of scholarship for the new generation of cinema studies.

Hamid Dabashi, author of Close-Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future

ReFocus: The Films of Rakhshan Banietemad stands as a captivating and conclusive investigation of a cinematic luminary. Whether one is an ardent cinéphile, a devoted scholarly, or basically inquisitive almost the different cluster of human encounters delineated on screen, this compilation is fundamental.

Narjess Jafari Langroudi, Film International

Among volumes on Iranian cinema, sections on women filmmakers’ works are remarkably few. Addressing this gap, Ghorbankarimi’s book brings together brilliant scholarships from various disciplines to explore the films of Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, one of the main post-revolutionary auteurs. This is essential reading for anyone interested in Iranian cinema and an important contribution to feminist film studies in MENA.

Saeed Zeydabadi-Nejad, SOAS, author of The Politics of Iranian Cinema
Dr Maryam Ghorbankarimi is Lecturer in Film Practice at the University of Lancaster.

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