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The 15 Best Iranian Movies of All Time

Iranian Cinema is a rich and diverse cinema that has been in existence since the 1930s amidst oppressive regimes, censorship, and even in the face of exile. The history of film as an art form in Iran dates back to the pioneering days of cinema when the first movie theatre opened in Tehran in 1904. Film was less than ten years old at the time and many Iranians flocked to cinemas to watch these primitive masterpieces. However, it would be another 25 years before Iran would develop its national cinema, a cinema of morality, humanity, abandonment, and integrity. Starting with the opening of the first film school in 1925, an Iranian national cinema quickly began to develop. Since then, cinema has served as an ambassador for Iran, the heart and soul of a country marred by years of instability. As a result, Iranian national cinema has become an engaging, chaotic, soulful and poignant cinema. It remains a true testament to the resilience and industrious nature of the Iranian people and serves as a veracious voice through which Iran can tell its varied and compelling stories. This is a list of the 15 essential Iranian films of all time.

1. The House is Black (Forough Farrokhzad, 1963)

2. The Brick and The Mirror [aka Brick and Mirror] (Ebrahim Golestan, 1965)

3. The Cow (Daryush Mehrjui, 1969)

4. Still Life (Sohrab Shahid-Saless, 1974)

5. The Runner (Amir Naderi, 1985)

6. The Cyclist (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1987)

7. Close Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)

8. A Moment of Innocence [aka Bread and Flower Pot] (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996)

9. Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

10. The Apple (Samira Makhmalbaf, 1998)

11. The Color of Paradise (Majid Majidi, 1999)

12. The Day I Became a Woman (Marzieh Meshkini, 2000)

13. Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002)

14. Turtles Can Fly (Bahman Gobadi, 2004)

15. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

You might immensely know Iran, but how well are you familiar with Iran’s epic film industry? We have curated for you, a list of some of the best, if not literally the best, feature films that were introduced to the whole world within the last 50 years. Some of the names might be familiar, like internationally-recognized Asghar Farhadi, with his 2011 film “A Separation”, earning the Best Foreign Film award at 83rd Academy Awards ceremony. Or the critically acclaimed “Children of Heaven” by Majid Majidi. If you have a taste for deep dives into the cinematic and artistic history of one of the Middle East’s most vibrantly creative atmospheres, you will enjoy this three-part journey. Read more below to get started with the first 11 Iranian films out of 33 that you conspicuously should consider watching.