Parvis Parastui is one of those left off the invitation list. Although he is universally loved in Iran, and his name promises a great performance, we cannot consider him a star but only as a very popular actor.
This is probably because of his physique - rather small and stocky. This is what puts the block on comparisons to Gregory Peck or any of those American actors that make teenage hearts around the world beat faster. Except mine; I collected all the photographs of Yul Brynner, who, according my grandmother was bald and rather ugly.
Back to Parastui, although he is not a star, he has had an impressively long film and television career. Over the last 27 years he has filled leading roles in many films from comedy to drama.
Among his best performances we can name Leily is with me (1996), The glass agency (1997), The lizard (2004) and The weeping willow (2005), for which he won the Crystal Simorgh for Best Actor at the 2005 Fajr Film Festival in Teheran.
Let’s not forget the Diploma of Honour he won the Best Leading Actor at the 1996 Fajr Film Festival for Leily is with me, as well as the Crystal Simorgh for Best Leading Actor from the same festival for his performance in The glass agency.
In the two very different films, Leily is with me and The glass agency, he showed the whole range of his talent as an actor. Leily is with me, a war comedy filmed very soon after the Iran-Iraq war, broaches a taboo subject while The glass agency is a thriller that raises questions about the war-wounded, who are ignored by the authorities and badly treated when they come home.
Parastui’s performances earned him two best actor prizes at the Fajr Film Festival. He was a big hit in The lizard, a caustic film that portrays a criminal who steals the identity of a mullah. The lizard, which did not win plaudits at Cannes, achieved phenomenal success in Iran in its first two weeks and was quickly banned. This did not stop it making a world tour or from being seen by nearly everyone in Iran.
Of course Cannes cannot welcome all local stars, but Iranian cinema gives prominence to filmes d'auteur, mainly without professional actors. Cannes has also turned its nose up at mainstream films from Iran even though its action films and others are a cut above American films of the same genre that get selected for different sections at Cannes.
Cannes did not select The lizard, which is a pity because everyone would have recognised the talent of Parviz Parastui. He is a star who would have enriched the glorious tapestry of Iranian cinema at this festival.
Iran and its cinema
The extraordinary success of Iranian cinema in the 1990s in festivals has provoked many questions on the genesis of these rich and lively films.
It goes without saying that it did not emerge overnight.
In 1989, Abbas Kiarostami's Where is the friend’s home received the Golden Leopard at the Locarno festival and launched its director onto the global film scene. No one expected that this success would be the first in a wave of young Iranian film directors who would make off with top prizes at festivals all over the world.
This unexpected period preceded the emergence of a tender, poetic cinema that is simple without being naïve.
Although the film industry seems to be well established in Iran, when you look closer, besides some popular successes (mainly turkeys), smaller productions suffer from a lack of funding, distributors and theatres, and especially from a tendency to bow to the wishes of the state. The political problems of last year did not make for a good year for Iranian cinema. Let’s hope that 2010 will bring us some more surprising films from this country.
Biography of Parviz Parastui
- 1955: Born in Hamadan Iran.
- 1969: Starts his career in the theatre.
- 1983: Cinema debut Land of lovers.
- 1988: Appears in some Iranian television series.
- As well as his career as an an actor Parastui sings and has recorded three albums. 2006 saw his most recent album, Mon papa, come out.
With more than 32 titles his filmography is rich. It contains notably Land of lovers(1983), The snowman (1995), Leily is with me (1996), Motherly love (1997), Red ribbon (1999),The lizard (2004) and Border café (2005).