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A Metropolis on the Screen: Urban Transformations, Characters, and Conflicts in Iranian Cinema

June 25, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT

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Hamed Goharipour is an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning at Kansas State University, where he also taught different courses. Hamed’s research interests include the relationship between city and cinema, urban life and satisfaction, social justice and the city, and mega-events’ urban impacts. As a professional urbanist, he has a few years of experience working on different urban planning and regional development projects. Hamed has also taught urban planning courses in various Iranian universities and instructed a course on City and Architecture at Tehran University of Art’s College of Cinema and Theater.

The ambitions of cinema and the city have been inextricably connected on many levels since more than a hundred years ago, to the point that many assume that movies were an emblem of urban life in our time. Iranian cities and cinema have not been an exception. Since Lor Girl (1933), the first Iranian sound film, Tehran has played a key role in Iranian cinema either as the backdrop of the story or a character and is represented in images, dialogues, and geographies of the movies. In this lecture, I present a review of urban transformations, characters, and conflicts in Iranian cinema from the 1950s until today. Rural-urban migrations, downtown-uptown conflicts, and the city’s vertical and horizontal expansion are spatial concepts that I interpret to see how the mobile gaze of the cinema establishes our presence in the flow and changes of the city. Through four pre-revolution and four post-revolution images of the city in Iranian cinema, I explore urban characters’ problematics, e.g., heroes and anti-heroes, women, and flâneurs.