These days when you mention Iran, we think of a nation on the brink of war. Extremist images come to mind, full of concealed women and bearded militants. Such stereotypes are useful in the drum up to war. But rarely do we step back to remember when Iran was as European as Europe, or that an autocracy does not necessarily reflect its people. We've forgotten how hundreds of thousands of Iranians risked their lives for the Green Revolution, long before the Arab Spring. There's more to Iran than Ayatollahs and Nuclear Weapons.
Iranian Cinema has always been one of the world's best, reflecting the country's incredible artistic heritage. This year saw Asghar Farhadi's A Separation take the much deserved Best Foreign Picture Oscar. Farhadi himself reminded us not to forget his people's shared humanity.
During the Nazi Occupation of France, when the country was governed by the German-controlled Vichy administration, 220 films were made by French filmmakers. Bertrand Tavernier is fascinated by this fact: "None of them was anti-Semitic, pro-German, pro-collaboration, or pro-even Vichy. Except for one film which has two dubious lines, you never had a anti-Semitic remark in the films of that time--even though you had plenty in the 1930s. I wanted to try to understand why."