Mohsen Makhmalbaf: (1957.Iran)
Filmmaker, novelist, screenwriter, editor, producer, human right activist
In his teen years, he fought against the dictatorship in Iran and was injured by bullet shots by the police and spent some five years in prison as a political prisoner. He lost the use of his legs as a result of torture and underwent numerous operations before he could manage to walk again.
He started story writing whilst in prison and turned to filmmaking following his release. He is, however, still fighting for human rights in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iran. In 2007 the Iranian secret police planted a bomb which exploded at the scene where he was filming in a bid to kill him, but he managed to survive. Those claiming responsibility for the explosion sent him a message: ‘This bomb was in retaliation for taboo-breaking in the two films titled “Sex and philosophy” (Tajikstan2005) and “Scream of the ants” (India2006)’.
Makhmalbaf has written 27 literary and story books and directed 18 feature films, 3 documentaries and 4 short films in six countries: Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Tajikistan and India. The subject of Makhmalbaf’s works is man and his agonies.
He has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature by St Andrews University in Scotland 2010, Honorary Degree of Doctorate of Cinema from Nanterre University in France 2010 as well as more than 40 international awards including Marshall of Art and Literature from France in 1998, Sergei Parajanov Awards from Armenia in 2006, Francois Truffaut prize from Italy in 2002, Federico Fillini Honour from UNESCO in 2001, Freedom to Create Prize for artistic creation from England in 2009, Alhambra Award from Spain in 2007, Grand Human Right award from Nuremberg in Germany in 2009 and Rome Courage & Bravery Award in 2006. Pusan Film Festival, the most important Asian film festival, acclaimed him as the best Asian film director in 2003 and he was elected as the Dean of Asian Film Academy in 2007.
Kandahar (Afghanistan), the winner of the Grand Prize from Society of Churches of the World in Cannes film festival 2001, was chosen as one of the best 100 films in the history of world cinema in 2001 by Times magazine and broke the record for the best selling Asian film in the history of cinema in Italy and was simultaneously screened in 107 Italian cinemas in 2001.
The Cyclist (Pakistan – Iran) won the best film award in Rimini – Italy in 1989 and the best Hawaii – America film in 1991, which is amongst the most adored films of Makhmalbaf in the world cinema.
Salam Cinema (Iran) as a critic of authority was praised in Cannes Film Festival 1995, winner of the best film in Munich International Film Festival, Germany 1996 is now taught globally at schools of cinematic arts as a novel technique in documentary & social cinema filmmaking.
Gabbeh (Iran), poetical film in official section of Cannes film festival 1996, was elected by Times magazine as one of the best ten movies of the 90’s. It was also chosen as the best Asian film in Singapore Film Festival in 1997 and the best Tokyo Artistic Film (Japan 1996), and the winner of the International Critics Award and the best director at Sitguess Festival in Spain, 1996.
Silence (Tajikistan), poetical film screened in Venice 1997, the winner of Human, Art and Nature Award and also the winner of Golden Prize of Italian Parliament at Venice Film Festival.
A Moment Of Innocence (Iran), praise for non-violence, is one of the ten best films of the 90’s as chosen by the heads of the world Film Festivals in 2000 and the winner of Special Jury Award and the Locarno Festival Youth Golden Award in 1997.
Time of Love (Turkey), Screened in uncertain regards section of Cannes film festival 1995, is the story of a married woman’s love, a film that caused months of conflict between right wing papers and Makhmalbaf in Iran. This film has been banned in Iran since then. The Iranian enthusiast audiences who only had one chance for watching the film at the festival had to queue for two days and nights. With the banning of the film, the book titled ‘Time of Love’ was reprinted thirteen times and more than 100,000 copies were sold. This was in a country where a book is published in no more than 3000 copies.
The Afghan Alphabet (Iran – Afghanistan), documentary, was the winner of the best film at Document Art Film Festival in Germany as well as the winner of the Thessaloniki Honorary Humanitarian Award in Greece. This film succeeded to change the law in favour of Afghan children refugees in Iran who were banned from attending schools and finally following the release of this film during the presidency of Khatami, the democratic president of Iran, school doors were opened to half a million Afghan children after eight years and some 1200 young Afghan refugees were accepted in Iranian universities. Makhmalbaf explains: “The movie, Afghan Alphabet, proved that the cinema can lead to great social upheavals and had I been born to make just this one film, it would have been worth it.”
Makhmalbaf in addition to filmmaking lived in Afghanistan for a period of two years and succeeded in carrying out 82 human rights projects. This included the building of schools in the towns of Herat and Zaranj and the teaching of cinema, as well as helping to set up the Afghan cinema, which had been totally destroyed during the Taliban regime.
Makhmalbaf’s books are written in Persian, and some of them have been published in various languages, such as ‘The Crystal Garden’, which is a critic of the post revolutionary state of Iranian women, in English, French, Italian, Greek and Persian...and ‘Buddha was not demolished in Afghanistan, it collapsed out of shame’ about the tragic events in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime in Japanese, French, Portuguese, Korean, Hindi, Italian, Greek, English and Persian…
Makhmalbaf taught cinema to his family. Boston University awarded him with the prize of the Museum of Fine Arts for his novel technique. He was also awarded the Prize of The Golden Cycle at Vesoul Film Festival in France. The top festivals in the world such as Cannes, Venice, Berlin endorsed what he had taught.
Samira Makhmalbaf broke the record in the history of cinema as the youngest director in the world participating in the official section of Cannes Film Festival with her film titled ‘The Apple’ (Iran, 1998). She received the Special Jury Award of the competition section of the Cannes Film Festival twice successively at the ages of 20 and 22 for her films titled ‘The Black Board’ (Iran, 2000) and ‘At Five in the afternoon’ (Afghanistan, 2002). In 2003 Samira was selected as one of the forty best directors of the world by Guardian newspaper.
Hana Makhmalbaf dazzled at the age of 13 with her documentary titled ‘Joy of Madness’ in Venice Film Festival in 2003. At the age of 18 she was awarded the “Crystal Bear” from Berlin and San Sebastian’s “Grand Jury Award” for her film titled ‘Buddha Collapsed out of Shame’ in 2007.
Marziyeh, Makhmalbaf’s wife, stood out at Venice Film Festival with her two feature films tilted ‘The day I became a woman’ in 2000 and ‘Stray Dogs’ in 2003.
Films by the Makhmalbaf family have been screened in over 50 countries and been shown more than 2000 times at the festivals all over the world and have taken some 110 international awards. Although the Makhmalbaf family’s awards are kept in the Museum of Iranian Cinema, their works are banned in Iran from being shown.
In 2005 when Ahmadinejad came into power, Mohsen Makhmalbaf left Iran as a protest against the Iranian dictatorship and at present lives in exile with his family. He has been living in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, India and France in recent years.
Directing: (Writer and Director)
1. Tobeh Nasuh 1982.
2. Two Blind Eyes 1983.
3. Fleeing from Evil to God 1984.
4. Boycott 1985.
5. The Peddler 1986.
6. The Cyclist 1987.
7. Marriage of The Blessed 1988.
8. Time of Love 1990.
9. The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood 1990.
10. Once Upon a Time, Cinema 1991.
11. Actor 1992.
12. Salam Cinema 1994.
13. Gabbeh 1995.
14. A Moment of Innocence 1995.
15. Silence 1997.
16. Kandahar 2001.
17. Sex & Philosophy 2005.
18. Scream of the Ants 2006.
19. The Gardener
1. Images From the Ghajar Dynasty 1992.
2. Stone and Glass 1993.
3. Wind, Ruined The School 1997.
4. The Door 1998.
5. The Test of Democracy 2000.
6. The Afghan Alphabet 2002.
7. The chair 2006
Editing: (His own works)
1. The Peddler (1986).
2. The Cyclist (1987).
3. Marriage of The Blessed (1988).
4. Time of Love (1990).
5. The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood (1990).
6. Once Upon a Time, Cinema (1991).
7. Images From the Ghajar Dynasty (1992).
8. The Actor (1992).
9. Stone and Glass (1993).
10. Salam Cinéma (1994).
11. Gabbeh (1995).
12. A Moment of Innocence (1995).
13. The School Blown Away by Wind (1997).
14. Silence (1997).
15.The Testing Democracy (2000).
16.The Afghan Alphabet 2002.
17. Kandahar (2001).
18. Sex & Philosophy(2003).
Editing: (Others’ works)
1. The Scout (Directed by Ebrahim Hatami-Kia) 1988.
2. Delnamak (Directed by Amir Ghavidel) 1989.
3. The Governor (Directed by Morteza Masaeli) 1989.
4. Rajayi School (Directed by Karim Zargar) 1989.
5. Unfinished Man (Directed by Moharam Zeinalzadeh) 1992.
6. A Night and a Stranger (Directed by Ghasem Jami) 1992.
7. The Apple (Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf) 1997.
8. The Blackboard (Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf) 1999.
9. The Day I Became My Aunt Was Ill (Directed by Hana Makhmalbaf) 2000.
10. 11 September (Directed by Samira Makhmalbf) 2001.
11. At five in the afternoon (Directed by Samira Makhmalbf) 2002.
12. Two-legged horse (Directed by Samira Makhmalbf) 2008.
Screenplays: (Used by other filmmakers)
1.Justification (Directed by Manouchehr Haghani-Parast) 1980.
2. The Bells (Directed by Mohammad-Reza Honarmand) 1984.
3. Rajayi School (Directed by Karim Zargar) 1985.
4. The Governor (Directed by Morteza Masaeli) 1988.
5. Unfinished Man (Directed by Moharam Zeinalzadeh) 1991.
6. The Apple (Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf) 1997.
7. The Blackboard (Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf) 1999.
8. The Day I Became a Woman (Directed by Marziyeh Meshkini) 1999.
9. Why the votes were Canceled (Directed by Babak Payamy) 2001.
10. At five in the afternoon (Directed by Samira Makhmalbf) 2002.
11. Poet of the waste (Directed by Mohammad Ahmadi) 2004
12. Two-legged horse (Directed by Samira Makhmalbf) 2008.
A- Novels & Stories
1. Shame: (Collection of 12 stories) 1980.
2. Two Blind Eyes: (Collection of 13 stories) 1981.
3. Hoze Sultan: (Long Story) 1984.
4. The Crystal Garden: (Novel) 1986.
1. The Martyred Sheikh: 1981.
2. Death of Another: (Collection of 3 plays) 1982.
3. Divine Arrow: (Collection of 2 plays) 1982.
1. Legitimate Parliament 1984.
2. Mother 1984.
3. The Bells 1984.
4. Birth of an Old Woman 1985.
5. Rajayi School 1985.
6. Marriage of The Blessed 1987.
7. The Cyclist 1988.
8. Time of Love (Story and Screenplay) 1990.
9. Hail the Sun 1994.
10. A Moment of Innocence 1997.
11. Kandahar 2001.
12. The Door 2001.
D – Essays
1. Introduction on Islamic art
2. Notes about story writing and playwriting
3.The Buddha Was Not Demolished in Afghanistan;
Collapsed Out of Shame
E - Selected Works:
1. The Dumb Man’s Dream (Three Volumes) Selected works of 1981 to 1991.
2. Life is Color (One Volume) Selected works of 1991 to 96.
3. To See And Not To See (One Volume)selected works of 1997 to 2002.
Books written on Makhmalbaf and his works:
1. The Peddler: (Director’s interview, Screenplay, Reviews, and Study) Compiled by Ebrahim Nabavi, 1989.
2. Salam Cinema: (Screenplay, Interviews, Reviews, and Study) Compiled by Amir Khosravi, 1996.
3. Gabbeh: (Photographs with along Screenplay) Photography by: Mohammad Ahmadi, 1996.
4. Silence: (Photographs with along Screenplay) Photography by: Maysam Makhmalbaf, 1998.
5. Mohsen Makhmalbaf: (Review and Study) Compiled by: Alberto Barbara (in Italian), 1996.
6. Makhmalbaf’s Broken Mirrors: (Review and Study) Compiled by: Lyrid Dijeon (in English), 2000.
7. Introducing of Mohsen Makhmalbaf and his works: (Review and Study) Compiled by: Baharlou, 1995 (second print: 1998).
8. "Salaam Cinema, Films of Makhmalbaf Family" by Pusan International Film Festival, 2000.
9. "The Films Of Makhmalbaf (Cinema, Politics & culture In Iran)" by: Eric Egan, 2005.
10. " Makhmalbaf at Large" (Review and Study) by: Hamid Dabashi, 2008.
11. "Mohsen Makhmalbaf: From Discourse to Dialogue" (Review and Study) by: Fernando González García, 2008.
Works of Makhmalbaf published in other languages:
1. The Crystal Garden (English, French, Greec, Italy) Novel.
2. Hoze Sultan (Turkish) Long Story.
3. Death of Another (Kurdish, English, Urdu) Play.
4. A Fence Behind a Fence (Arabic, English) Play.
5. Gabbeh (English, French) Screenplay.
6. Three Pictures (Italian) Screenplay.
7. Beloveds of the Night (Italian, English) Short Story.
8. Maharajah (English) Screenplay.
9. An Introduction to Islamic Art (Arabic) Article.
10. Surgery on the Soul (English) Short Story.
11. The Door (English) Screenplay.
12. The Apple (English) Screenplay.
13. The Blackboard (English-Japanese) Screenplay.
14. The Day I Became a Woman (English) Screenplay.
15. Blessing of God’s Name (English) Screenplay.
16. Silence (English) Screenplay.
17. The Buddha Was Not Demolished in Afghanistan; It Collapsed Out of Shame (English, French, Greec, Korean, Portugaise, Russian, Italy, Japanese, Deutch...) Article.
Performance as an actor:
1. Marriage of The Blessed (By Mohsen Makhmalbaf) 1988.
2. Close-up (By Abbas Kiarostami) 1989.
3. Salam Cinema (By Mohsen Makhmalbaf) 1994.
4. A Moment of Innocence (By Mohsen Makhmalbaf) 1995.
5. The Testing Democracy (By Makhmalbaf ) 1999.
6. Joy Of Madness (Hana Makhmalbaf) 2003.
1. The Cyclist, 1987.
2. Gabbeh, 1995.
3. Silence, 1997.
1. A Moment of Innocence, 1995.
2. Silence, 1997.
3. The Apple, 1997.
4. The Blackboard, 1999.
5. The Day I Became a Woman, 1999.
6. Kandehar, 2000.
7. Sex & Philosophy, 2005
As a Jury:
1- Locarno (Switzerland) 1994.
2- Sao Paulo (Brazil) 1995.
3- Torino (Italy) 1996.
4- Taormina (Italy) 1998.
5-Pusan (South Corea)1998.
6- Bahrein (Bahrein) 2000.
7- Singapore (Singapore) 2000.
8- Crala (India) 2001.
9- Osian's – Cinefan (India) 2004.
10- Dushanbeh (Tajikistan) 2004.
11- Clermont-ferrand (France) 2006.
12- Venice (Italy) 2006.
13- Europe Asia (Kazakhstan) 2006.
14- HEAD OF JURY: Molodist (Ukraine) 2007
15- Etiuda & Anima (Poland) 2008
16- Head of Jury: Tbillisi (Georgia) 2012.
International Awards: (Films)
1. The Cyclist: Best Film - Rimini Festival (Italy) 1989.
2. The Cyclist: Best Film - Hawaii Festival (USA) 1991.
3. Once Upon a Time, Cinema: Best Film - Taormina Festival (Italy) 1992.
4. Once Upon a Time, Cinema: Best Film – Karlovy vary Festival (Czechoslovakia) 1992.
5. Once Upon a Time, Cinema: Best Film – Fiprachi Critics - Karlovy vary Festival (Czechoslovakia) 1992.
6.Once Upon a Time, Cinema: Best Director – Karlovy vary Festival (Czechoslovakia) 1992.
7. Once Upon a Time, Cinema: Special Jury Prize - Istanbul Festival (Turkey) 1993.
8. Collection of Works: Press Award – Sao Paulo Festival (Brazil) 1995.
9. Salam Cinema: Best Film – Munich Festival (Germany) 1996.
10. Gabbeh: Best Artistic Film – Tokyo Festival (Japan) 1996.
11. Gabbeh: One of 10 selected films by critics – Times (USA) 1996.
12. Gabbeh: Best Director – Sitguess Festival (Spain) 1996.
13. Gabbeh: Special Critics Award - Sitguess Festival (Spain) 1996.
14. Gabbeh: Best Asian Feature Film – Singapore Festival (Singapore) 1997.
15. A Moment of Innocence: Special Jury Award – Locarno Festival (Switzerland) 1996.
16. A Moment of Innocence: Youth Golden Award - Locarno Festival (Switzerland) 1996.
17. A Moment of Innocence: Among Top Ten Films of the Decade – Awarded by International Festival Directors and Critics 1999.
18. Silence: Golden Prize of Italian Parliament - Venice Festival (Italy) 1997.
19. Silence: Human, Art and Nature Award - Venice Festival (Italy) 1997.
20. Collection of Works: “Ville d'yssingeaux”, France 1998.
21. Marshall of Art and Literature, (France) 1998.
22. Kandahar: Grand prize from Society of churches of world, Cannes 2001 (France)
23. Kandahar: “Federico Fillini Honor” from UNESCO in Paris, 2001 (France)
24. Kandahar: The best movie from Ajaccio Film Festival, (France) 2001
25. Kandahar: "Public Prize" from Festival des Cinemas du Sud, (France) 2001
26. Kandahar:"Best Director Award" from Riga International Film Forum Arsenals,Latvia 2002
27. Thessaloniki 4th festival , Honorary Humanitarian Award (Greece) 2002
28. Collection of Works: “Francois Truffaut prize”, Giffoni Film Festival in Italy 2002.
29. The Afghan Alphabet:"Best Film Award"from Document ART International Film Festival, (Germany) 2002.
30. The 2003 Asian Filmmaker Award from Pusan Film Festival ,(South Korea) 2003.
31. One Of "The Best Hundred Films" Of History Of Cinema, Choosen By Times, (USA) , 2005
32. Kandahar: "Best Film" Fiprachi Critics From Thessaloniki (Greece) 2001
33. Sex & Philosophy,Tica Film Mediale International Film Festival, Italy,2005
34. Sergei Parajanov Awards for outstanding Artistic contribution to the world cinema, Yerevan Film Festival, Armenia, 2006
35. "Clermont-Ferrand Medallion", the city medallion granted to the legendary Mohsen Makhmalbaf , France, 2006.
36. Jury Special Mention Award for "Scream of the Ants" and life time achivement as a filmmaker, The Granada Film Festival CINES DEL SUR, Spain, 2007
37. "Golden Stag" award for life time achievement through his works and career as an outstanding artist, 37th Kyve (Molodist) International Film Festival, Ukraine 2007
38. "Alhambra" award for his artistic and humanitarian films, CINES DEL SUR International Film Festival, Spain, 2008
39- "Golden Dinosaur" award for establishment of Makhmalbaf film school ETIUDA&ANIMA International Film Festival, Poland, 2008
40- "Grand Human Right award" for his life time achievement and activity for human right through his art and actions from Nuremberg Human Right Film Festival, Germany, 2009
41- "Freedom to Create Prize" for his human right activity and promoting social Justice through his art, Art Action, England, 2009
(Mohsen Makhmalbaf dedicated his award to Grand Ayatollah Montazeri for his fight for human right and democracy in Iran)
42- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature From St Andrew Univercity, Scotland, 2010
43- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Cinema From Nanterre Univercity, France, 2010 (Mohsen Makhmalbaf announced during his speech:
“Honourable professors! Permit me to accept this honorary doctorate as a loan in the hope of freedom for Iran. Until the day when, in my homeland Iran, I will be able to present it to the mothers whose children had the honour of martyrdom in the name of freedom before they could receive an honorary doctorate.”
44- "Special Award for a life time activity for human right through art and cinema" Sao Paulo Festival (Brazil) 2011
(Mohsen Makhmalbaf dedicated the award to Mirtahmasb & Shahabi -the imprisoned Iranian filmmakers)
45- Golden Award for "The Gardener", From Beirut International Film Festival, Lebanon, 2012
(Mohsen Makhmalbaf dedicated the award to all those people who are working around the world for peace and who are striving to prevent wars which are the causes of destruction committed in the name of God.)
Iranian Awards: (Films)
1. The Cyclist: Best Screenplay – Fajr Film Festival, 1988.
2. The Cyclist: Best Director – Fajr Film Festival, 1988.
3. The Cyclist: Set Design – Fajr Film Festival, 1988.
4. The Cyclist: Iranian Critics Award, 1990.
5. Marriage of The Blessed: Iranian Critics Award, 1990.
6. Once Upon a Time, Cinema: Best Editing – Fajr Film Festival, 1991.
7. Mohsen Makhmalbaf: Selected as the best filmmaker after the revolution by readers of cinema publications, 1988.
A Retrospective of Makhmalbaf’s Works: (International)
1. Iranian Film Festivals (France) 1989.
2. Rotterdam Festival (The Netherlands) 1989.
3. Hong Kong Festival (Hong Kong) 1991.
4. Bonn Cinémathèque (Germany) 1991.
5. La Rochelle Festival (France) 1991.
6. Tesaloniki Festival (Greece) 1995.
7. Sao Paulo Festival (Brazil) 1995.
8. Istanbul Festival (Turkey) 1996.
9. Turin Festival (Italy) 1996.
10. Singapore Festival (Singapore) 1996.
11. Chicago Festival (USA) 1996.
12. Beirut Festival (Lebanon) 1996.
13. India Festival (India) 1997.
14. Tokyo Festival (Japan) 1997.
15. The Netherlands Cinémathèque (The Netherlands) 1997.
16. Vienna Festival (Austria) 1997.
17. Cleveland Cinémathèque (USA) 1997.
18. UCLA (USA) 1997.
19. New York Museum of Modern Arts (USA) 1997.
20. Boston Museum of Modern Arts (USA) 1997.
21. Pacific Archives in Berkley (USA) 1997.
22. Vancouver Cinémathèque (Canada) 1997.
23. Toronto Cinémathèque (Canada) 1997.
24. Ontario Cinémathèque (Canada) 1997.
25. Montreal Cinémathèque (Canada) 1997.
26. Madras,Banglore,Viji Vada,Haydarabad , India 2001
27. Daka, Bangladesh 2002
28. Bosnia, 2002
29. Bulgaria, 2002
30. Munich International Film Festival, Germany 2006
31. Cine Del Sur International Film Festival, Spain 2008
Works That Were Banned: (In Iran)
1. Time of Love (From 1980 to present).
2. The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood (From 1980 to present).
3. A Moment of Innocence (From 1995 to 1997).
4. Silence (From 1997 to 2000).
5. Once Upon a Time, Cinema (From 1992 to 1993).
6. Testing Democracy (From 2000to present).
7. Afghan Alphabet (From 2001 to present).
8. Sex & Philosophy (From 2003 to present).
9. Amnesia (Script) (From 2003)