A year after Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in 1989, and in the wake of the protracted and devastating Iran-Iraq War, Mohsen Makhmalbaf released a film that would not be seen. Makhmalbaf made The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood in 1990, only to have it censored and mutilated, and then suppressed entirely by the Iranian government before it could be released widely. The film traces Mohammad Alaghmand, an anthropology professor in Esfahan, through various phases of the Iranian Revolution – before, during, and after. Of the original hundred minutes, nearly a third of the film was cut out and destroyed completely by censors for its ‘counter-revolutionary’ content, which was deemed a threat to ‘national security’. Last year, Makhmalbaf himself managed to smuggle the remaining sixty-three minutes out of Tehran and into Europe, where the film was screened for the first time to audiences outside Iran at the Venice Film Festival.
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