An educated teacher is transferred to a poor, conservative area—and becomes involved with a student’s beautiful older sister—in this major work of pre-Revolutionary Iranian cinema, shot independently on the streets of Tehran in 1971. Caught between the hyperactive imaginations of his young charges and the idle gossip of neighborhood busybodies, the idealistic young teacher Mr. Hekmati quickly finds himself at the center of controversy after spending a few minutes alone with a student’s older sister. Soon all eyes are on him, from the woman’s family to her macho paramour, and from fellow staffers to the suspicious, well-dressed men who hover on every street corner, seemingly keeping tabs on all progressive newcomers. Long thought lost, this essential neorealist classic with a subversive, Kafkaesque feel offers a window into a time of great change in Iran, when religious tradition and cultural modernity met head-on. “The tone puts me in mind of what I love best in the Italian neorealist pictures,” writes Martin Scorsese, whose World Cinema Foundation restored this classic in collaboration with the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and the Doha Film Institute, “and the story has the beauty of an ancient fable—you can feel Beyzaie’s background in Persian literature, theater and poetry.”
The source element for this restoration was a positive print with English subtitles provided by director Bahram Beyzaie. Since this is the only known surviving copy of the film–all other film sources were seized and are presumed destroyed—the restoration required a considerable amount of both physical and digital repair. The surviving print was badly damaged with scratches, perforation tears and mid- frame splices. Over 1500 hours of work were necessary to complete the restoration. Restored by the World Cinema Foundation at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/ L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2011. Funding provided by Doha Film Institute.
The not-for-profit World Cinema Foundation was founded by its chairman, director Martin Scorsese, to support film preservation efforts worldwide. According to Scorsese, “We want to help strengthen and support the work of international archives, and provide a resource for those countries lacking the archival and technical facilities to do the work themselves.”