• Iranian Documentary Film Culture: Cinema, Society, and Power 1997-2014

      Murphy, Patrick D.; Coover, Roderick; Schiller, Naomi, 1978-; Naficy, Hamid; Alter, Nora M., 1962- (Temple University. Libraries, 2015)
      Iranian documentary filmmakers negotiate their relationship with power centers every step of the way in order to open creative spaces and make films. This dissertation covers their professional activities and their films, with particular attention to 1997 to 2014, which has been a period of tremendous expansion. Despite the many restrictions on freedom of expression in Iran, especially between 2009 and 2013, after the uprising against dubious election practices, documentary filmmakers continued to organize, remained active, and produced films and distributed them. In this dissertation I explore how they engaged with different centers of power in order to create films that are relevant to their society. To focus this topic, my research explores media institutions, their filmmaking practices, and the strategies they use to produce and distribute their films. This research is important because it explores the inherent contradictions in the existence of a vibrant documentary film community in a country that is envisioned as uniformly closed and oppressive in the West. The research is also personally motivated, because I have close connections to the Iranian documentary film world, where I previously made films and produced television programs. I conduct the study with a multi-faceted approach, utilizing participant observation in the field in a four-month period, in-depth interviews with key players, personal reflections, and textual analysis of the films. I focus on about twenty filmmakers and their films, chosen from a pool of more than 500 documentary filmmakers, giving a cross section of this community based on their age, sex, and their professional history and success within Iran and internationally.