Mohsen Makhmalbaf

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Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Mohsen Makhmalbaf (in Persian language محسن مخملباف) (Tehran, Iran, May 29, 1957) is a filmmaker, writer, screenwriter, film producer and rights activist. Iranian humans. He has been president of the Asian Film Academy since 2009 and founded the alternative film school “Makhmalbaf Film House” in Tehran in 1996, which has now become a producer and brand of Makhmalbaf family productions.

Mohsen belongs to the movement called the New Wave of Iranian cinema, a movement that started in the late 1980s and includes Iranian directors and directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Ali Reza Raisian, Majid Majidi, Tahmineh Milani, Bahman Ghobadi and the same Makhmalbaf family (Marzieh Meshkini, his wife, and his daughters Samira and Hana). His filmography has been present in most of the great international film festivals of the first decade of the 21st century.

Mohsen_Makhmalbaf’s Biography


Mohsen Makhmalbaf was born in one of the poorest and most religious neighborhoods in Tehran and his parents separated within 6 days of the wedding. His parents disputed his custody and his father abducted him, confiding his aunt for a year and a half. This one provided him numerous books of fiction, literature and religious writings that awoke his desire for writing from a very young age. Raised later by his mother, the poor economic situation of the family meant that he had to work since he was 12 years old. At age 17 he had more than 13 jobs.

At the age of 15, he began to fight against the dictatorship of the Shah of Persia in a clandestine revolutionary group, and at 17 he entered the prison after seriously injuring a policeman in an attempt to disarm him, and in turn was wounded. bullet during the arrest. He regained his freedom in 1979, with the Iranian revolution. He had lost the use of both legs because of the torture he suffered in prison, but he walked again after numerous surgical interventions. He left the armed struggle for non-violence and artistic and literary activism, convinced that the problems of Iranian society could not be resolved through political changes but through a change in mentalities.

At the beginning of the 1980s he wrote novels, short stories, theater plays and film scripts, and founded the Propaganda center for the spread of Islamic thinking and art (Center for propaganda for the dissemination of art and Islamic thought). Without having gone through any film school, decided to focus on bringing culture to the people through film, away from the topics disclosed by the Hollywood and Bollywood film productions. He wrote screenplays and was responsible for the editing of numerous films by other Iranian filmmakers. Despite the censorship, his early films quickly won him the adhesion of the Iranian public and the young filmmakers who in the 1980s were going to shape the new Iranian cinema. In 1989, the Rimini Festival prize awarded to his film The cyclist launched him on the international scene.

Makhmalbaf Film House [/]

At the beginning of 1996, Samira Makhmalbaf decided to leave the institute to study film. The only option was to enter a university, where film education was so deficient that none of the great and well-known Iranian filmmakers had formed there. At that time, Mohsen Makhmalbaf was the most active of the Iranian filmmakers, with 14 feature films, 3 short films, 28 published books and 22 productions under his belt. Driven by the case of his daughter, he left the realization to dedicate himself to train filmmakers.

He proposed to the Iranian Ministry of Culture to found a school to welcome 100 selected film students through an exam, and offer them a 4-year career with new techniques of teaching film. The Ministry refused on the grounds that it was enough for them to have a dangerous filmmaker in the country and that they did not need 100 more.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Hana Makhmalbaf and Marzieh Meshkini after receiving the honor roll at the International Festival des cinémas d’Asie in Vesoul, France, in 2009.

Mohsen was not discouraged and set up the school in his own home, counting on the collaboration of filmmakers and professional friends and recognized to form the faculty. The students were children of friends and like-minded people, and the youngest was their daughter Hana. The days at school used to be 8 hours a day, which could sometimes be up to 16 hours. The training method consisted of focusing on one subject per month and, apart from technical training, they taught transversal subjects such as painting, photography, poetry and music, cooking, computer science and foreign languages. In the purely cinematographic, economy and production design, script writing, acting, camera handling, assembly, sound editing and film history, among other subjects, were taught. In that period of 4 years, the Makhmalbaf Film School produced several films as practical exercises in which all the members of the family participated, each in a different discipline: The day I became a woman, realized by Marzieh Meshkini, the mother, The apple and the blackboard, made by Samira, the making-off How Samira made The Blackboard, made by his brother Maysam, and The day my aunt was ill, made by Hana who was only 8 years old. All the members of the family acted as assistant director in the Mohsen film, The silence. The “Makhmalbaf Film House” was born as a producer of the films made at the school.

At that time, Mohsen Makhmalbaf produced for the first time a film with external funding, A moment of innocence, through a mortgage loan. But the Iranian Ministry of Culture did not authorize its commercial premiere unless it cut out several scenes, to which the director refused. In agreement with his family, he preferred to sell the family home to settle the debt and chose to maintain the independent brand “Makhmalbaf Film House”, although without physical headquarters or capital, which has since produced all the films of the Makhmalbaf family. < / p>

Humanitarian and cultural work

After the premiere of his acclaimed film Kandahar, three months before the events of September 11, 2001, Mohsen Makhmalbaf decided to put into practice the criticism in his film dedicated to humanitarian projects aimed at the Afghan population. Taking advantage of the impact of his documentary The Afghan Alphabet, he succeeded in changing Iranian legislation to allow more than half a million young Afghan refugees without papers to study in Iranian schools. Then he settled with his family in Kabul and for 3 years he created around 80 humanitarian projects dedicated to education and health, which he financed in large part with the money from the prizes received. It helped to revive Afghan cinema, totally annihilated by the Taliban era. In 2005, after the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mohsen Makhmalbaf went into exile in protest against the dictatorship and has since resided in Afghanistan, India, France and Tajikistan, where today (2011) is working in favor of the structuring of a film industry and culture.

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