Review of 80 Years of Film Literature in Iran
Cinema on Paper
by Asghar Yousefinejad

One of the less talked about and little known aspects of the Iranian cinema for those who study it abroad is Iran's film literature; that is, the literature available in Iran and in Persian. The oldest examples of such literature are now over 80 years old. In fact, the first Iranian book on film was published in 1927. Since then, based on estimates and not on accurate and official statistics, some 3,000 books, catalogues and booklets have been published on films in Iran. Over 90 percent of this has been published after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This does not include reprints and newer editions of old books. This article is mainly focused on the parts of the film literature that have been published as books and sold to readers in bookshops. This reduces the aforesaid figure to 1,500 in 80 years. The other half includes catalogues and booklets that have been published in limited editions on the occasion of film festivals, and other similar events. The growth in the number of these events has made it difficult for scholars to provide precise statistics. Out of 1500 books, some 125 were published between 1927 and 1978. Between 1979 and 1997, when film literature in Iran turned 70, Iranian publishers had released 475 books on films. However, there has been an outstanding growth in publication of such books in the past decade when 900 new books on films hit bookshelves at bookstores. This raised the figure to 1,500 volumes.

The first film book published in Iran was a screenplay; The Shah of Iran and the Armenian Lady. It was authored and published by Zabihollah Behrouz in 1927. The introduction to this book narrates the dream of making the first Iranian film based on the country’s national legends. Time has now proved that no film was ever made based on that screenplay. There is a gap of nine years between the publication of this book and the next one: Ferdowsi and Abu Ali the Silver Digger. This screenplay was authored by S. Ali Azari and was published in 1936. The year 1937, was the starting point of an 11-year standstill in publication of film books in Iran. Another screenplay Hassan, Ph.D. in Law, was published in 1942. The author was A. Shirvani who wrote the screenplay to take part in a literary contest. The main subject of that contest was social, historical, and cultural situation in Iran.

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