Why Are Iranian Movies So Good?

Ransom Riggs

Iran's regime is one of the most repressive and censor-happy in the world, and yet their independent filmmakers have, over the last twenty years or so, proven themselves to be some of the best and most creative minds working in cinema. In 1978, cinemas were burned to the ground after images of American decadence were shown on screen. The medium itself was outlawed until the Ayatollah Khamenei saw a film he liked, the cinemas were reopened, and the industry grew again.

To find out more about how so many great films have come out of Iran, Vice Magazine founder Shane Smith spent a year and a half getting a visa so he could go there and find out for himself. True to form, it's a trip full of paranoia and weirdness (including a scene in which they randomly run into Annette Bening), and a fascinating look at Iran the country through the lens (no pun intended) of its cinema. The first episode of three parts is here --

-- and you can find the rest at the always-fascinating VBS.tv.