In 1932, Abdolhossein Sepanta made the first Iranian sound film, entitled Lor Girl. Later, in 1935, he directed movies such as Ferdowsi (the life story of the most celebrated epic poet of Iran), Shirin and Farhaad (a classic Iranian love story), and Black Eyes (the story of Nader Shah's invasion of India). In 1937, he directed Laili and Majnoon, an Eastern love story similar to the English story of Romeo and Juliet.
The present day Iranian film industry owes a lot of its progress to two industrious personalities, Esmail Koushan and Farrokh Ghaffari. By establishing the first National Iranian Film Society in 1949 at the Iran Bastan Museum and organizing the first Film Week during which English films were exhibited, Ghaffari laid the foundation for alternative and non-commercial films in Iran.
Early Persian directors like Abdolhossein Sepanta and Esmail Koushan took advantage of the richness of Persian literature and ancient Persian mythology. In their work, they emphasized ethics and humanity.
Pre-revolutionary cinema, 1950s-70s
The 1960s was a significant decade for Iranian cinema, with 25 commercial films produced annually on average throughout the early ‘60s, increasing to 65 by the end of the decade. The majority of production focused on melodrama and thrillers.
The movie that really boosted the economy of Iranian cinema and initiated a new genre was Ganj-e-Qarun (Croesus Treasure), made in 1965 by Siamak Yasami. Four years later Masud Kimiaie made Kaiser. With Kaiser (Qeysar), Kimiaie depicted the ethics and morals of the romanticized poor working class of the Ganj-e-Qarun genre through his main protagonist, the titular Qeysar. But Kimiaie's film generated another genre in Iranian popular cinema: the tragic action drama.
With the screening of the films Kaiser and The Cow, directed by Masoud Kimiay and Darius Mehrjui respectively in 1969, alternative films established their status in the film industry. Attempts to organize a film festival that had begun in 1954 within the framework of the Golrizan Festival, called for the boring of fruits with the Sepas Festival in 1969 and the endeavors of Ali Mortazavi, which resulted in the formation of the Tehran World Festival in 1973.
Pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema produced notable movies such as:
The Bride of the Sea, by the late Arman (1965)
Siavash at Persepolis, by the late Ferreydun Rahnama (1967)
The Brick and The Mirror, by Ebrahim Golestan (1967)
The House of God, by Jalal Moghaddam (1966)
The Husband of Ahoo Khanom, by Davood Mollapour (1968)