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War in the Cinema of Iran, Turkey, and the Arab World

This essay surveys the representation of war in films from Iran, Turkey, and the Arab world. For the purposes of this essay, war is defined as sustained military conflict between two nations, empires, or groups beyond and within the borders of a nation or empire, including civil war and the perpetration of genocide. The films are examined chronologically, in order of historical event, beginning with key battles in early Islamic history through the US invasion of Iraq beginning in 2003. The examples highlighted here include cinematic depictions of combat as well as films that address the political, sociological, cultural, and psychological effects of war on soldiers, combatants, and civilians.

Early Islamic History to the Ottoman Conquest

Due to the prohibition on visual depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, very few cinematic representations exist of key military events of the Prophet’s lifetime. Syrian- American Moustafa Akkad’s al-Risālah (“The Message”; 1976) is the most widely circulated film on the Prophet’s life. The Message includes depictions of two key battles in the war between the early Muslim army of Medina and the Meccans: the Battle of Badr (624) and the Battle of Uhud (625).

Films depicting wars of Islamic conquest in the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs through the period of the Crusades include the 1958 Egyptian historical action-drama Khālid Bin al-Walīd directed by and starring Ḥusayn Ṣidqī in the title role as well as an animated film, Ṭāriq Bin Zīyād: Fatḥ al-Andalus (“Ṭāriq Bin Zīyād: The Conquest of Andalusia”). The Iraqi film al-Qādisiyah (1981) directed by Ṣalāḥ Abū Sayf depicts the decisive battle between the Arab Muslim army and the Persian Sassanian Empire in 636 and can also be seen as an allegory of the Iran-Iraq war. Egyptian director Youssef Chahine’s al-Nāṣiralāh al-Dīn (“The Victor: Salah al-Din”; 1963) portrays Salah al-Din’s reclamation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and subsequent negotiations with Richard I. Al-Jazeera has also produced a documentary series, al-Ḥurūb al-Ṣalībiyah: al-Ṭarīq ilá al-Quds (“The Crusades: the Road to Jerusalem”; 2011).

From the 1950s through the 2000s Turkish filmmakers have produced a number of historical and action dramas dealing with the military victories of the Ottoman Empire. Such films include İstanbulʾun Fethi (“The Conquest of Constantinople”; 1951) directed by Aydın Arakon and Faruk Aksoy’s nationalist epic film Fetih 1453 (“Conquest 1453”; 2012) which depicts the rise to power of Mehmet II and his conquest of Constantinople. Critics link its popularity to contemporary Turkish nostalgia for the Ottoman past.

World War I, the Armenian Genocide, and the Turkish War of Independence

A number of Turkish historical dramas and action films have portrayed World War I, and the centennial of the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli, in particular, has inspired a slate of films on the subject, some of which are uncritically nationalistic. Tolga Örnek’s documentary Gelibolu (“Gallipoli”; 2005) is narrated from the perspective of both sides: Turkish and British. Yeşim Sezgin’s overtly nationalistic Çanakkale 1915 (“Gallipoli 1915”; 2012) is a historical drama adapted from Diriliş (“Resurrection”) by Turgut Özakman. Considered antiwar but also overly sentimental by some critics, Çanakkale Çocukları (“The Children of Gallipoli”; 2012), directed by Sinan Çetin, follows the story of an Australian mother who has a nightmare of her two sons fighting on opposite sides. Other feature films on the Gallipoli campaign, include Serdar Akar’s and Kemal Uzun’s and Ahmet Kahraman’s Çanakkale: Yolun Sonu (“Gallipoli: End of the Road”; 2013).

Several Turkish historical dramas depict other events of World War I. 120 (2008) directed by Murat Saraçoğlu and Özhan Eran tells of the fatal sacrifices of 120 children from the city of Van who transported ammunition to the Ottoman forces in the Battle of Sarikamish in 1915 against the Russians and who were subsequently killed. Also dealing with the aftermath and defeat of the Ottomans in the Battle of Sarikamash, Alphan Eseli’s drama Eve Dönüş: Sarıkamış (“The Long Way Home”), released in 2013, depicts the story of an officer accompanying a woman and her daughter to Erzurum in early 1915.

Despite official denial by the Turkish government, Armenian filmmakers have addressed the subject of the Ottoman-perpetrated Armenian genocide of 1915 in both documentary and feature films. Henrik Malyan’s Nahapet (1977) tells the story of the title character’s attempts to rebuild his life after participating in the defense of his village and the brutal killing of his wife and children by Ottoman forces. Don Askarian’s 1988 biopic Komitas tells the story of Soghomon Soghomonian, the Armenian priest and composer who was arrested along with hundreds of other Armenian intellectuals and sent to a prison camp in Central Anatolia in 1915. Atom Egoyan’s Ararat (2002) portrays the attempts of Edward Saroyan to make a film about the genocide. The Cut (2014), directed by German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akın, depicts the story of Nazareth Mangoonian, who after being deported from his village, searches for his daughter.

While Arab filmmakers have not extensively addressed World War I in their films, the musical-war film Safar Barlik (1967) directed by Henry Barakat and starring Fairuz portrays the struggles of Lebanese villagers against famine and Ottoman oppression in the early period of the war. Additionally the recent Jordanian adventure film Thīb (Theeb)directed by Nājī Abū Nuwwār was released in 2014. Theeb tells the story of two young Bedouin brothers, Hussein and Theeb, in the Hijaz region during World War I who help lead a British officer through the desert on a secret mission.

The Turkish War of Independence has been depicted in such early films as Muhsin Etuğrul’s Ateşten Gömlek (“The Daughter of Smyrna”; 1923) as well as the more recent action-adventure film Son Osmanlı Yandım Ali (“The Last Ottoman: Knockout Ali”; 2007) directed by Mustafa Şevki Doğan. Additionally a number of other films have addressed the issue of the post–World War I deportation of ethnic Greeks from Turkey. These films include Yeşim Ustaoğlu’s Bulutları Beklerken (“Waiting for Clouds”; 2004), which challenges official history of what happened to the local Greek population.

World War II

While World War II has not been a central focus of filmmakers in the region, a few films have addressed the war. World War II is the backdrop to the film Karatma Geceleri (“Blackout Nights”; 1990) directed by Yusuf Kurçenli and based on the autobiographical 1974 novel of Rıfat Ilgaz about a poet who is on the run from the police due to charges of affiliation with communists (Dönmez-Colin, pp. 198–199). Youssef Chahine’s Iskandariya . . . Lay? (1978), the first of his quartet, is set in British-occupied Alexandria in 1942 and incorporates British newsreels of the war. Rachid Boucahreb’s Indigènes (“Days of Glory”; 2006) portrays the experiences of North African soldiers serving in the French Free Forces during the war.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: 1948 to the 1970s

The War of 1948, or the Nakbah (Catastrophe), between the nascent state of Israel and the Arab states has not received extensive attention in Arab or Palestinian film until fairly recently (Massad). Michel Khleifi’s documentary Maʾlūl Taḥtafilu bi Damāriha (“Maʾlūl Celebrates its Destruction”; 1985) deals with one of the Palestinian villages depopulated and destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948 and connects the War of 1948 with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Based on Ghassan Kanafani’s novella Men in the Sun, al-Makhdūʾūn (“The Dupes”; 1971) by Egyptian director Tawfīq Ṣāliḥ and produced in Syria depicts the tragic story of three Palestinian refugees forced to seek work in the Gulf in the aftermath of the Nakbah and includes flashback scenes of combat during the war. Also based on a Kanafani story, ʿĀʾid ilá Hayfā (“Return to Haifa”; 1982) by Iraqi director Qāsim Hawal depicts a Palestinian couple who were forced to flee the city in 1948, only to return in the aftermath of the 1967 war in search of their home and their son. Yousry Nasrallah’s Bāb al-Shams (“The Gate of the Sun”; 2004), based on Elias Khoury’s epic novel, depicts the expulsion of Palestinians from their villages in 1948 as well as the subsequent years of the conflict beyond the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Annemarie Jacir’s Salt of the Sea (2008) follows Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad as the character Soraya who returns to her homeland to reclaim her family’s property taken in 1948.

Lebanese director Burhan ʿAlawīyah’s Kafr Qāsim (1975) was produced in Syria and depicts the massacre of Palestinians by Israeli forces in a town bordering the West Bank in 1956. Muḥammad Fāḍil’s historical black-and-white film Nasser ’56 (1996) stars Ahmad Zaki in the title role and depicts a heroic and idealized Gamāl ʿAbd al-Nāṣr, his nationalization of the Suez Canal, and the attack on Egypt by France, Israel, and Britain.

The War of 1967 that resulted in the defeat of the Arab states and the occupation of the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula by Israeli forces is referenced in Youssef Chahine’s drama al-ʿAṣfūr (“The Sparrow”; 1973). The film portrays several characters dealing with political and social corruption in Nasser’s Egypt during the 1967 war. The Syrian drama al-Itijāh al-Muʾākis (“Opposite Direction”; 1975) depicts the daily struggles of a group of young men in the aftermath of the war. Directed by Husam al-Din Mustafa, al-Raṣaṣ la Tazāl fī Jaybī (“The Bullet Is Still in My Pocket”), tells the story of a soldier who returns humiliated to his village after the defeat of 1967 and then goes to fight in the 1973 October War and returns again, with more self-respect. Additionally in the late 1960s and 1970s a number of Syrian and Lebanese films about Palestinian guerrillas were made including ʿAmalīyāt al-sāʾah al-Sādisah (“The 6 O’clock Operation”; 1969) directed by Sayf al-Dīn Shawqāt and Thalāthat ʿAmalīyāt fi Filasṭīn (Three Operations in Palestine”; 1969) by Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ al-Khayālī (Massad, p. 34).

The Algerian War of Independence: 1954–1962

While Gillo Pontecorvo’s fictional-realist The Battle of Algiers (1966) remains the most widely circulated film about the Algerian War of Independence, Algerian and other filmmakers have created a number films dealing with the long and bloody struggle between colonialist French forces and Algerian nationalists. Film was considered to be a vital part of the struggle for liberation by the National Liberation Front (FLN) (Armes, p. 294). A production unit was set up by the FLN in 1957 and produced the documentary Algérie en flammes (Algeria in Flames; 1959). Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina’s The Wind of Aurés (1966) was the first fictional drama film produced in newly independent Algeria and portrayed the tale of a family devastated by the war. He also directed the celebrated Chronique des Années de Braise (“Chronicle of the Years of Embers”; 1975) that depicts the transformation of a peasant into a participant in the resistance movement. Youssef Chaine’s Jamīlah al-Jazāʾirīyah (“Jamila the Algerian”; 1958) tells the story of Jamila Bouhired, who joins the FLN and is subsequently captured and tortured by French forces.

The Lebanese Civil War 1975–1990 and the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in 1982

Scholars such as Lina Khatib have argued that the growth of a specifically Lebanese cinema can be linked to the civil war beginning in 1975. Common themes of Lebanese civil war films, both feature and documentary, include the destruction of the city of Beirut, ruins, the breakdown of social and economic structures, corruption and the loss of ideals, exile, and the issue of postwar amnesia. Several films produced from the 1980s through the 2000s depict the war through its effects on the personal and familial relationships of the characters. For example, Marwan Baghadi’s drama Ḥurūb al-Saghīra (“Little Wars”; 1982) features the story of three young people who are initially caught up in the war because of their idealism, but eventually succumb to the absurdity, corruption, and violence that permeates it. Burhān ʿAlawīyah’s drama Bayrūt: al-Liqaʾ (“Beirut: The Encounter”; 1981) tells the story of two former lovers who are unable to contact each other due to telephone lines being down and the fact that they live in a city divided by war. Ziad Doueiri’s landmark West Beyrouth (West Beirut; 1998) depicts the partition of Beirut and the insidious spread of sectarianism at the onset of the war through the eyes of adolescent characters Tariq, Omar, and May and the eventual trauma that they experience. Nadine Labaki’s comedic drama Et maintenant, on va où (Where Do We Go Now?, 2011) presents the story of a remote village that is home to both Christians and Muslims.

A number of documentaries and art cinema films take on the subject of the civil war as well as the Israeli invasion in 1982 and the massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Filmmaker Jocelyne Saab has produced both documentaries and feature films on the subject including Ghazl al-Banāt (“A Suspended Life”; 1984), the story of a young girl, Hala, who develops a friendship with a neighbor who is an artist. Saab’s film Kān yā Mā Kān, Bayrūt (“Once Upon a Time, Beirut”; 1994) employs hundreds of clips from films about the city to chronicle its history which is explored by characters who have only known the city during the devastation of the civil war. May Masri’s documentary Aṭfāl Shatīlā (“Children of Shatila”; 1998) follows the lives of two children in a refugee camp after the 1982 massacre.

The Iran-Iraq War: 1980–1988

Protracted and enormously costly in human and material terms, the Iran-Iraq war also resulted in the development of a specific field of Iranian war cinema (Khosronejad). As part of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s propaganda efforts to maintain public support for the “imposed” war, the government encouraged the development of the cinema of “sacred defense” (cīnamā-i defā’-i muqadas) that emphasized the themes of soldiers’ self-sacrifice, courage, and martyrdom (Khosronejad). Iranian sacred defense cinema, a school that is often credited with being founded by Morteza Avini, included a large number of documentary films covering the battlefront as well as feature films exploring the social and moral effects of the war in civilian life. However in these government sponsored films very little direct criticism of the human costs of the war was permitted, and most of these films have not been viewed or studied outside of Iran (Khosronejad). Thus a distinction can be made between films produced as part of the school of sacred defense, such as Avini’s documentary series Rivāyat-i Fatḥ (“Narration of Triumph”; 1987) and those films dealing with the Iran-Iraq war that do not strictly adhere to the ideological parameters of the sacred defense school and have had a wider international circulation.

Many Iranian filmmakers including Ebrahim Hatamikia, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Amir Naderi, and Bahram Beizayi have contributed to the genre of Iranian war cinema. Having worked with Avini on sacred defense documentaries, Hatamakia, made his first feature film, Huvīyat (“Identity”; 1986) about a young man who is hospitalized with a group of soldiers wounded in the war; the soldiers eventually become a source of inspiration for him. His film Dīdah-Bān (“Scout”; 1990) depicts the story of a group of soldiers trapped at the front who receive aid from a self-sacrificing scout. Hatamakia’s subsequent film Az Kharkah tā rayn (“From Karkeh to the Rhine”; 1992) portrays the story of Said who is blinded during the war and goes to Germany for medical treatment along with other wounded soldiers. He recovers his sight, but then is diagnosed with terminal leukemia due to exposure to chemical weapons, a departure from the more positive conclusions of other films. Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s ʿArūsī-yi Khūbān (“The Marriage of the Blessed”; 1989) presents the tale of a war photographer recovering from shell-shock and disillusionment in a hospital and attempting to readapt to civilian life with the help of his fiancée.

Two dramatic films that portray the negative impact of the war through the eyes of children are Amir Naderi’s acclaimed film Davandah (“The Runner”; 1984) and Bahram Beizai’s celebrated Bāshū: Gharībah-i Kūchak (“Bashu: The Little Stranger”; 1986). The Runner presents the semiautobiographical portrait of an impoverished boy who struggles to survive on the streets after losing his parents in the war. Bashu also depicts a young boy who is haunted by visions of the destruction of his former native city and the loss of his parents and who winds up in Gilaki province.

Israeli Military Rule and Occupation and the First and Second Intifadas: 1987–2005

Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Golan Heights, and Gaza began in 1967, a number of Palestinian filmmakers have focused on depicting the oppression, and at times absurdity, of living under military rule and military occupation. The renowned filmmaker Michel Khleifi’s fictional film ʿUrs al-Jalīl (Wedding in Galilee; 1987) depicts the head of a village under Israeli military rule negotiating with the governor to hold a wedding after curfew. Khleifi’s mixed documentary-fictional film Nashīd al-Ḥajar (Canticle of Stones; 1990) tells the story of two lovers separated in the 1960s when one is imprisoned for political activism; they reunite during the First Intifada.

Rashīd Mashrawī’s film drama Curfew (1993) depicts the suffocating atmosphere of military occupation in Gaza on the eve of the Oslo Accords. Elia Suleiman’s Yad Ilahiyah (Divine Intervention; 2002) presents series of cinematic vignettes about a Palestinian man living in Nazareth whose girlfriend is living in the occupied West Bank, which forces them to continuously cross through a series of military checkpoints. At the same time the film’s silent protagonist suffers the loss of his father. Hany Abu-Assad’s al-Quds fi Yawm Ākhar (Rana’s Wedding; 2003) depicts Rana, a young woman in Jerusalem, attempting to get married in chaotic circumstances so that she does not have to leave with her father for Egypt. Abu-Assad’s 2005 drama Paradise Now (2005) tells the story of two young men from Nablus who prepare to carry out suicide bombings in Israel and depicts the frustration and despair of those living under military occupation.

Among films dealing with ongoing illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territory, Qays al-Zubaydī’s Waṭan al-Aslāk al-Shāʾika (“Barbed Wire Homeland”; 1982) was one of the first documentaries on the expansion of the settlers. Documentary filmmaker May Masri’s filmAṭfāl Jabal al-Nār (“Children of the Mountain of Fire”; 1990) examines the psychological and social problems of children in Nablus during the First Initfada. Azza al-Hassan’s Zaman al-Akhbār (“News Time”; 2001) tells the story of the effects of the Second Intifada on her neighborhood in Ramallah. Nizar Hassan’s Ijtīāḥ (“Invasion”; 2003) and Mohammad Bakri’s Jenin, Jenin (2002) both document the Israeli Defense Forces’ invasion and destruction of the Jenin refugee camp in 2002.

The Civil War in Turkey and the Kurdish Struggle in Iraq: 1980s–1990s

Although Turkish nationalist discourse generally celebrates men’s military service, the trauma experienced by soldiers involved in the sustained military conflict with the Kurdish separatists of the PKK in the southeast was considered a taboo subject (Suner, p. 65). Levent Semerci’s Nefes: Vatan Sağolsun (“Breath: Long Live the Homeland”: 2009) is a drama film about forty soldiers stationed at the Iraqi-Turkish border and the Turkish state’s conflict with the PKK. Three films produced in the late 1990s and 2000s, Yeşim Ustaoğlu’s Güneşe Yolculuk (“Journey to the Sun”; 1999), Tayfun Pirselimoğlu’s Hiçbiryerde (“In Nowhere Land”; 2002), and Uğur Yücel’s Yazı/Tura (“Toss Up”; 2004) depict the trauma of Turkish soldiers and their families caused by their experiences of the conflict (Suner, p. 53).

Other films that deal with Turkish-Kurdish civil war include Reis Çelik’s first feature film, Işıklar Sönmesin (“Let There Be Light”; 1996), which tells the story of a Kurdish rebel from the PKK and a member of the Turkish military who are brought together. Kazım Öz’s Fotoğraf (“The Photograph”; 2001) tells the story of two young men, one Kurdish and the other Turkish, who become acquainted on a bus journey from Istanbul to Diyarbakır during the civil war. The film highlights the atmosphere of oppression, and the two men separate, one to join the Turkish military and the other to join the guerillas. They meet again on the battlefield. Babamın Sesi/Dengê Bavê Min, (“The Voice of My Father”; 2012), directed by Orhan Eskhiköy and Zeynel Doğan depicts an aging mother named Basê living alone in southern Turkey and waiting for her son Hasan, who is fighting with the Kurdish resistance. Miraz Bezar’s The Children of Diyarbakır (2009) was co-produced by Fatih Akın and depicts the conflict through the eyes of children. The drama film Bîranînen li ser kevirî (“Memories on a Stone”; 2014), directed by Shawkat Amin Korki, tells the story of two Kurdish childhood friends who direct and produce a film about the oppression of Kurdish people in Iraq, including the Anfal campaign in 1988. Jano Rosebiani’s Jayan (2002) tells the story of a Kurdish-American who returns to his homeland to build an orphanage in Halabja five years after the infamous chemical attack by the Iraqi military.

The Gulf War of 1990–1991 and the US Invasion and Occupation of Iraq in 2003

Following the Gulf War of 1990–1991, the BBC commissioned films from a number of Arab filmmakers in a series entitled The Gulf War . . . What Next (Ḥarb al-Khalīj wa Baʾd; 1993) (Dabashi, 2006). These films included Elia Suleiman’s Homage by Assasination (1992), which depicts the filmmaker attempting to write a script in his apartment in New York but who is distracted by images and memoires of previous conflicts and Burhān ʿAlawīyah’s Black Night Eclipse about the predicament of a Lebanese filmmaker living in Paris who contemplates making a short film about the war. Other films in the series include Nouri Bouzid’s It Is Scheherazade They’re Killing, which portrays a family feuding in Tunisia while the events of the Gulf War take place in media coverage.

A large number of documentary films have been produced about the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Abbas Fahdel’s documentary Naḥnu al-ʿIrāqīyūn (“We Iraqis”; 2003) depicts life in Iraq just before and in the immediate aftermath of the US invasion. About Baghdad (2003), a documentary co-directed by and featuring Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon, provides a number of different Iraqi perspectives on the US war and occupation. Bahman Ghobadi’s drama Lākpushtha Ham Parvārz Mīkunand (“Turtles Can Fly”; 2004) presents the stories of a group of Kurdish adolescent refugees who already bear the scars of previous wars as they wait on the Iraqi-Turkish border and prepare for the US invasion of Iraq. Serdar Akar’s action-adventure film Kurtlar Vadisi Irak (“The Valley of the Wolves: Iraq”; 2006) depicts the adventures of a Turkish intelligence agent who goes on a secret mission to northern Iraq to avenge the assault against Turkish soldiers by American warlords (Suner, p. 47).

Bibliography

  • Armes, Roy. “From State Production to Cinema d’Auteur in Algeria.” In Film in the Middle East and North Africa, edited by Josef Gugler, pp. 294–305. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011.
  • Arslan, Savaş. Cinema in Turkey: A New Critical History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Dabashi, Hamid. Close Up Iranian Cinema: Past, Present, and Future. London: Verso, 2001.
  • Dabashi, Hamid, ed. Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema. London: Verso, 2006. Includes essays by cinema scholars and filmmakers, including Annemarie Jacir, Michel Khleifi, and Nizar Hassan, as well as a useful bibliography with Arabic, French, and English language references on Palestinian cinema and a filmography alphabetized by director.
  • Gertz, Nurith, and George Khleiki. Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma, and Memory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008. Presents a chronicle of Palestinian cinema as well as chapters analyzing the films of Michel Khleifi, Rashid Masharawi, Ali Nassar, and Elia Suleiman. Also includes a filmography alphabetized by director.
  • Dönmez-Colin, Gönül. The Routledge Dictionary of Turkish Cinema. London: Routledge, 2014.
  • Gordan, Joel. Revolutionary Melodrama: Popular Film and Civic Identity in Nasser’s Egypt. Chicago: Middle East Documentation Center, 2002.
  • Khatib, Lina. Lebanese Cinema: Imagining the Civil War and Beyond. London: I.B. Tauris, 2008. Khatib’s analysis deals with the representations of Beirut, sectarianism, everyday life, masculinity, and militarized bodies, and the role of women of Lebanese cinema. This study presents interviews with several filmmakers. The text’s bibliography includes several Arabic language studies on Lebanese cinema, as well as a useful filmography of movies produced up to 2006.
  • Khosronejad, Pedram, ed. Iranian Sacred Defence Cinema: Religion, Martyrdom and National Identity. Canyon Pyon: Sean Kingston Publishing, 2012. An edited volume with essays covering Iranian cinema produced about and for the Iran-Iraq war. It includes several useful filmographies, including separate lists for documentaries and feature films that have not been well-studied outside of Iran.
  • Massad, Joseph. “The Weapon of Culture: Cinema in the Palestinian Liberation Struggle.” In Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema, edited by Hamid Dabashi, pp. 32–44. London: Verso, 2006.
  • Naficy, Hamid. A Social History of Iranian Cinema, vol. 3: The Islamicate Period. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.
  • Naficy, Hamid. A Social History of Iranian Cinema, vol. 4: The Globalizing Era. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.
  • Rastegar, Kamran. Surviving Images: Cinema, War, and Cultural Memory in the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Compelling and well-argued analyses of the relationship between cinema, trauma, and the development of collective cultural memory through a series of case studies including Algerian, Palestinian, Iranian, and Lebanese cinema and films from elsewhere in the region.
  • Sheibani, Khatereh. The Poetics of Iranian Cinema: Aesthetics, Modernity, and Film after the Revolution. London: I.B. Tauris, 2011.
  • Suner, Asuman. New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity, and Memory. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. Examines the new wave of Turkish cinema in the 1990s and 2000s, including films dealing with the Turkish-Kurdish civil war
  • Tapper, Richard, ed. The New Iranian Cinema: Politics, Representation and Identity. London: I.B. Tauris, 2002.
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