Iranian filmmakers have long been recognised for creating a vibrant, aesthetically rich cinema whilst working under strict state censorship regulations. Many have found indirect, allegorical ways of expressing forbidden topics and issues in their films. But allegory is in fact much more than a foil against haphazardly applied censorship rules. Drawing on a long history of allegorical expression in Persian poetry and the arts, allegory has become an integral part of the poetics of Iranian cinema. In this talk, I will provide insight into some of the strategies used by Iranian filmmakers to embed deeper meaning into their films while also drawing on a long history of allegorical expression. I will also consider modes of allegoresis to give insight into my analytical practice.
Michelle Langford is Associate Professor in film studies at UNSW Sydney. Her core research and publication activities are driven by her longstanding interest in the cinemas of Germany and Iran. These vastly different national cinemas are closely connected through her theorization of allegorical processes in film combined with a close attention to the impact of socio-political and historical contexts on the development of film style. Her current research focuses primarily on Iranian cinema, which allows her to extend and expand her theorization of allegorical cinema into an area of national cinema studies that is both contemporary and dynamic. Langford’s most recent research project looks at the German films of the Iranian Filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Saless. Her newest book is Allegory in Iranian Cinema: The Aesthetics of Poetry and Resistance (Bloomsbury, 2019).