INSC: The Iranian National School of Cinema’s eighteenth research session, titled “Audience analysis in Iranian cinema” took place on Tuesday the 15th of November in the Hannane Hall at the University of Tehran’s world studies campus. This session began with research done by Davoud Zameni and continued with speeches given by Kambuzia Partovi and Jahangir Kosari. Shahin Shajari Kohan was in charge of hosting and coordinating the event.
Much like the previous sessions, INSC’s eighteenth research session began with the results and conclusions of the scholar, Davoud Zameni: “The current research was initially conducted with the goal of essentially assessing why people go to the cinema, using a phenomenological approach. Up until ten years ago when the issue of audience analysis became of interest to sociologists, almost no in-depth studies had taken place regarding Iranian cinema. The question of what people are searching for when they go to the cinema was amongst the questions we tried to answer in our research. We concluded that social interactions, entertainment, nostalgia, and redoing previous pleasant experiences were among the reasons why audiences were interested in going to the cinema”.
After Zameni’s speech, Kambuzia Partovi, the writer, director, and head of the scriptwriting department at the INSC began his speech regarding the conditions and values of audience analysis. This writer mentioned Iranian cinema’s high profit this past year, and said: “Whenever this occurs, it is an indication of the rise of a new taste. However, unfortunately history has shown that whenever a new taste pops up, producers and directors all follow it and stay in the same level; they repeat the clichés that get results. We have not trained our audience and we have bestowed upon them a taste which only accepts limited movies in different eras. In developed countries, audience analysis comes before movie making. Here, except in a few case, we do the opposite. In some of Naser Taghvaei and Masoud Kimiaey’s adaptations we have seen an attempt to elevate the audience’s taste”.
Partovi went on to say that: “In Iran, audience analysis is difficult since we are faced with a different movement in each era and therefore, cannot have a precise plan. Our children’s cinema also faces the same problem. I hope that one day we reach a place where the audience’s taste is so vast and unpredictable that no filmmaker can reach it and that this very issue helps elevate the filmmaker too”.
Jahangir Kowsari was the next speaker of the session and he began his speech by expressing his satisfaction with the INSC: “I’m happy that the Iranian National School of Cinema began its work in order to provide a great opportunity for the upcoming generation of filmmakers and I hope that these sessions and classes are informing students and audiences of the correct cinematic alphabet”.
He claimed that audience analysis had roots in social issues, saying: “In different eras, audiences have been influenced by political movements and behaviors. After Iranian cinema got out from under the influence of the royalty and took on a more public role, it copied Indian and Egyptian cinema in terms of audience analysis and then stayed like that. From the 40s until the 70s, our audience analysis depended on the desires of the producers, derived from Arab and Egyptian cinema. From the 80s, we got constrained by governmental limits which, at the time, had a good effect. In recent years, due to political tensions and divisions, cinema going has gathered some interest. People supported directors whose movies didn’t have a TV structure. Our TV has a very governmental behavior and since our people are looking for change and improvements, they do not find their needs on the TV screen and instead look to the more open environment of movies. For example, before the revolution we did not have any women filmmakers, but now we have around 27 professional ones; America only has 12. All things considered, cinema is a modern phenomenon, constantly evolving without regressing, and the new young generation embraces it. The reception that cinema has will no longer occur. Some countries reserve American films as early as a year before so that they ensure they’re screened at this date, since their audience is guaranteed”.
This Iranian producer went on to say: “The fact that Iranian cinema is currently successful in important festivals and has proven successful in this year’s box office, is the result of people paying attention to art and so we must make the utmost use of this capacity. People have reached a good cultural growth and they trust filmmakers and so our cinema can attract different groups. In my opinion, the fact that people’s understanding is nearing cinema is the reason for this reception. We must plan to at least keep these audiences and prevent the numbers from decreasing while trying to elevate it. After all, having passed the era of cultural change and urbanization, we are now in the attracting audience stage”.
Manouchehr Shahsavari, the Chairman of the Board of the House of Cinema, who was among those present, spent a few moments discussing this session’s subject and said: “Cinema is not a one dimensional or even two dimensional phenomena, it involves various different sciences and eventually deals with an audience. This audience has no predetermined formula. We had films that were predicted to do well in the box office or film where we expected them to fail but the opposite occurred. Generally, these explosive waves have to do with a work’s creative idea that might act as a meteor; meaning it will come and go but leave an impact. We must not forget that we do not have the right to classify our audience based on their identity; we cannot label them as public or privileged or rustic or urban. Iranian cinema is currently faces with the challenge of preserving the audience who has embraced it this year”.
The Iranian National School of Cinema’s eighteenth research session took place with the presence of INSC’s CEO, deputies, and members of its academic departments, as well as university professors, students, and a multitude of journalists and filmmakers such as Manouchehr Shahsavari, Fereshte Taerpour, Dr. Shahab Esfandiari, Bahman Ruzbahani, Dr. Jahromi, and Dr. Fatemeh Hosseini Nasab.