Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Mohsen Makhmalbāf
Born (1957-05-29) May 29, 1957
Tehran, Iran
Nationality Iranian
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Fatemeh Meshkini (1978–1982)
Marzieh Meshkini (1987–present)
Children Samira (b. 1980)
Meysam (b. 1981)
Hana (b. 1988)
Awards Freedom to Create Prize
Federico Fellini Honour

Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Persian: محسن مخملباف, Mohsen Makhmalbaaf; born May 29, 1957) is an Iranian film director, writer, film editor, and producer. He has made more than 20 feature films, won some 50 awards and been a juror in more than 15 major film festivals. His award-winning films include Kandahar; his latest documentary is The Gardener and latest feature The President.

Makhmalbaf's films have been widely presented at international film festivals in the past ten years. The director belongs to the new wave movement of Iranian cinema. Time selected Makhmalbaf's 2001 film Kandahar as one of the top 100 films of all time.[1] In 2006, he was a member of the Jury at the Venice Film Festival.

Makhmalbaf left Iran in 2005 shortly after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sixth President of Iran, and has lived in Paris since the events of the 2009 Iranian presidential election.[2]


Makhmalbaf was born in Tehran on May 29, 1957. At the age of 15, he became involved in a militant group fighting against the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the then Shah of Iran, and at the age of 17 he was imprisoned for stabbing a policeman and sentenced to death. After serving five years of his sentence, he was released in the wake of the Iranian Revolution.[3][4] He left Iran in 2005.[5]


Makhmalbaf (childhood)

Makhmalbaf is a major figure in Iranian cinema. His films have explored the relationship between the individual and a larger social and political environment. As a result, his work serves as an extended commentary on the historical progression of the Iranian state and its people. Makhmalbaf has worked in several genres, from realist films to fantasy and surrealism, minimalism, and large frescoes of everyday life, with a predilection (common to Iranian directors) for the themes of childhood and cinema.[6]

In 1981, he wrote the screenplay for Towjeeh, directed by Manuchehr Haghaniparast. In 1982, he wrote the screenplay for Marg Deegari, directed by Mohammad-Reza Honarmand. He made his first film, Tobeh Nosuh, in 1983, and Boycott, a film set in pre-revolutionary Iran, in 1985. The latter tells the story of Valeh (Majid Majidi), a young man sentenced to death for Communist tendencies, and is widely believed to be based on Makhmalbaf's own experiences.

Makhmalbaf portrays human despair, exploitation, and resilience in The Cyclist (1987),[7] a movie about Nasim, a poor Afghan refugee in Iran in desperate need of money for his ailing wife. Nasim agrees to ride a bicycle in a small circle for one week straight in return for the money he needs to pay his wife's medical bills.

Time of Love (1991) is Makhmalbaf's ninth feature film and the first film of what he calls his "third period".[8] It is a romantic trilogy that offers three variations of the same story.[9]

Hana, Marzieh and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, receiving the Cyclo d'Or at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema in 2009

Makhmalbaf directed Gabbeh in 1996. The film follows the nomadic Ghashghai people, whose bright, bold carpets tell stories. The main thread features a young woman who loves a mysterious stranger but is forbidden to marry him. The film is romantic and non-realistic, with events seeming to leap around in time and space, much like a dream.[10]

Makhmalbaf took time off from directing in 1996 to form the Makhmalbaf Film House, a school for young filmmakers. It quickly became a private production house for the increasing number of filmmakers in his family. In 1997, his 17-year-old daughter Samira directed The Apple, using him as a scriptwriter and editor. Makhmalbaf's wife, Marziyeh Meshkini, worked as assistant director to her daughter and then took up directing herself.[11]

Kandahar (2001) is a fictional odyssey inspired by a true story set in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks, as the Taliban's laws strip women of civil rights and hope and a Western-cultured Afghan woman returns to prevent her sister's suicide during the last eclipse of the 20th century.[12]

Degrees and honors


Year English title Original title Length Notes
1983Pure RepentanceTawba Nasuh100 minutes
1984Two Blind EyesDo Cheshme Bisoo102 minutes
Seeking RefugeIsti'azah89 minutes
1986BoycottBoycott95 minutes
1987The PeddlerDastforoush90 minutes
1989The CyclistBicycleran83 minutes
Marriage of the BlessedArousi-ye Khouban70 minutes
1991Time of LoveNobat e Asheghi70 minutes
The Nights of Zayande-roodShabhaye Zayandeh-rood75 minutes
1992Once Upon a Time, CinemaNasseroddin Shah Actor-e Cinema92 minutes
1993Images from the Qajar PeriodTasvir Dar Doran-e Ghajar18 minutesShort documentary
The ArtistHonarpisheh86 minutes
Stone and Glass Sang-o-Shisheh20 minutesShort documentary
1995Hello CinemaSalaam Cinema81 minutesDocumentary
1996Gabbeh72 minutes
A Moment of InnocenceNun va Goldoon78 minutes
1997The School the Wind Blew AwayMadrese-i ke bad bord8 minutesShort
1998The SilenceSokout74 minutes
1999Tales of KishGhessé hayé kish72 minutesSegment The Door
2000Tales of an IslandDastanhaye Jazireh76 minutesSegment Testing Democracy
2001KandaharSafar-e Ghandehar85 minutes
The Afghan AlphabetAlefbay-e afghan46 minutesDocumentary
2005Sex & PhilosophySex o phalsapheh102 minutes
2006Scream of the AntsFaryad moorcheha85 minutes
The ChairSandali8 minutesShort
2009The Man Who Came with the Snow75 minutesCo-directed with Marzieh Meshkini
2012The GardenerBagheban87 minutesDocumentary
2013The Endless SmileLabkhande-bi-payan52 minutesDocumentary
2014The President118 minutes
2015The Tenant18 minutesShort

Films banned in Iran

Film appearances

Books on Makhmalbaf

See also


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