For as long as cinema has existed in Iran, it has been incredibly rich. IMDb has ranked these Iranian films that are available on Netflix for American viewers.
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This country’s cinematic past is a treasure trove. It’s no surprise that their films have had a significant impact on the direction of other filmmakers and have been featured on Netflix. In addition, seeing movies from this country allows ethnic minorities the opportunity to have their voices heard.
Movies, in a sense, let viewers come to know the characters. While most movies require set construction, Iranian filmmakers have shown that they can produce a whole film without it.
1. Snowman (1995) – 6.9
It was nonetheless one of Iran’s highest-grossing movies at the time despite the controversy. To get out of Iran, Abbas plans to use Turkey as a gateway to the United States. However, he is unable to carry out his intentions since the US Embassy consistently denies him entry. To get to the United States, Abbas intends to marry an American man and travel there with him. What will he do now that genuine love has gotten in the way? Stay or go?
2. Santouri (2007) – 7.5
In spite of his family’s threats to desert him, Ali refuses to give up on his goal of being a professional santourist. Indeed, over time he goes from being an unknown artist to one of the world’s most recognizable faces. He meets Hanieh and they fall in love at about the same time. But then he gets hooked on narcotics, and his downward spiral begins there.
It has a strong effect on the viewers, who watch helplessly as Ali devastates both his personal and professional life. As a result of his wife’s decision to leave him, he is now a homeless tramp who lives on the streets. Finally, he is found by his family and taken to a rehabilitation facility. A recurring theme in the film is the prevalence of drug misuse in Iran during the time.
3. A Time For Drunken Horses (2000) – 7.7
An unvarnished account of surviving under the most difficult of circumstances. There are no clear political statements from Bahman Ghobadi, but the plight of the three siblings seems to shout out for the protection of minorities. When their parents died and the youngest of their children was diagnosed with a fatal illness following surgery, Madi was the only survivor. However, the two siblings adore their brother and will do whatever to raise the necessary funds to have him operated on.
4. Baran (2001) – 7.8
Lateef, a 17-year-old tea kid, works at a construction site near the Afghanistan-Iran border. He’s a slacker who prefers to work less than he’s supposed to. But Rehmat, a fellow Afghani laborer, alters everything in his carefree existence. He was first enraged by Rehmat’s arrival, until he learned the truth about her identity.
To envision what would happen to Rehmat and her family in a culture where hiring illegal aliens is already considered a sin, is to put yourself in Rehmat’s shoes. But Majidi manages to produce yet another lovely love story despite the difficulties of Iranian culture at the time in this story.
5. The Cow (1969) – 8
The story centres around Hassan, a simple villager who adores his cow and is a major inspiration for the Iranian New Wave. It’s hard for him to realize that his cow has suddenly died. Hassan’s spiral into lunacy serves as a metaphor for Iran’s social and political problems, which are depicted in the film.
He slowly comes to terms with the fact that he will never see his cow again. After a few days, he starts grunting and making animal noises and cries out in despair, “I’m not Hassan!” As Hassan puts it, “I’m his calf.” Disturbing in its portrayal of post-war mental breakdowns and existential crises in an average guy, this film is a powerful allegory for war’s devastation on the human spirit.
6. Bashu, The Little Stranger (1988) 8.1
This film tells the story of a little kid who flees his town after his parents are slain in the Iran-Iraqi war and seeks to make a new life for himself. While this film does not shy away from hard themes like the futility of war and Iranian society’s racism, it is typical of Beizai’s work.
Because of this, the film deals carefully with ethnic disparities. While the cultural and linguistic barriers are clear, Naii’s strong character shines as a beacon of light for both her and her adoptive mother, a middle-aged lady who already has two children of her own.
7. Turtles Can Fly (2004) – 8.1
With nowhere else to go as the US army approaches, youngsters on the Iraqi-Turkish border prepare for the violence and peril that is sure to come their way. At the head of the gang of petty criminals is a 13-year-old child named Satellite. The remainder of the children work with him to clear the minefield in exchange for a paltry ration of food.
Another young girl who lives with her sibling and a toddler becomes Satellite’s new favorite. The children’s only goal is to survive till the following day, weighed down by their horrific pasts. However, as the film progresses, the dynamics between the two characters become more nuanced and emotionally charged. Ghobadi does an outstanding job of examining the plight of the Kurdish people while also portraying the horrific side effects of conflict in this film.
8. A Separation (2011) – 8.3
This Oscar-winning film about a married couple on the verge of divorce is the first from Iran. Using this medium, Farhadi criticizes the obstacles of getting a divorce and the political climate of the country. One of the primary points of contention is Simin’s desire to leave the nation in order to provide a better life for their daughter, while Nader is hesitant to abandon his ailing elderly father.
It’s not a surprise that immigration policies and societal constraints make it difficult for the pair to divorce as a liberal upper-class family in contrast to Hojjat and Razieh’s more conservative values. In its precise execution, this film is a masterwork of both personal and political expression, probably only surpassed by Farhadi’s The Salesman.
9. Children Of Heaven (1997) – 8.3
One of Majid Majidi’s most popular films tells the story of two brothers. Young Ali misplaces his sister’s brand new shoes, and after searching in every direction, he is unable to locate them. They are a four-person household struggling to make ends meet in the slums of southern Tehran, and buying another pair of shoes for Zehra is out of the question.
However, the film does not focus on this loss, but rather displays the brother’s drive to provide his sister a new pair of shoes with a life affirming passion. As a result, Ali decides to enter a foot race in order to win the red shoes that are being offered as a prize. One of the most endearing things about this film is how innocently the two children are in their attempts to ease the strain on their parents.
10. Bekas (2012) – 8.5
Homeless children, Zana and Dana, are living in Iraq, on the verge of death. The movie begins with the two toddlers peeking into a movie theater through a hole in the wall and spotting Superman. They decided to move to the United States and live with Superman, so they set out.
Both heartfelt and innocent, this film tells the story of two children’s adventures in a war-torn continent. With little left to live for, these two young protagonists are full of hope as they plan their nearly impossible escape to a country where dreams can come to life.