Murder of Iranian director Dariush Mehrjui and his wife, murdered in their home

An important figure who contributed to the international recognition of the Iranian seventh art in the 1960s, filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui was assassinated with his wife this Saturday, October 14 at their home, near Tehran. He was 83 years old.

He was one of the leading figures of Iranian cinema, which he largely helped to gain recognition on the international scene with his film The Cow, in 1969. The filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui was assassinated this Saturday, October 14 with his wife, actress and screenwriter Vahideh Mohammadifar, while they were at their home near Tehran. It was their daughter, who came to dinner, who found their stabbed bodies. The filmmaker was 83 years old; his wife 54 years old.

“During the preliminary investigation, we found that Dariush Mehrjui and his wife […] had been killed by multiple stab wounds to the neck. commented Hossein Fazeli-Harikandi, the head of justice of Alborz province, quoted by the Mizan Online news agency. Four suspects were reportedly identified, two of whom were arrested. The circumstances of this double murder still remain very unclear.

In an interview relayed on Sunday by the newspaper Etemaad, one of the few reformist and independent dailies that still exist in Iran, the filmmaker’s wife revealed that she had recently received threats from an individual and had been the victim of a break-in at their home. “Our investigations have not revealed any official statement related to an illegal intrusion into the residence of the Mehrjui family and the theft of their possessions” said Hossein Fazeli-Harikandi.

A pioneering figure of Iranian cinema

Born on December 8, 1939 in Tehran, Dariush Mehrjui was a pioneer of the new wave of Iranian cinema, often confronted, with his peers, with censorship, not only under the reign of the Shah of Iran, but also since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Having left to study philosophy in the United States, he returned to Iran where he launched a literary magazine, before releasing his first film, Diamant 33, in 1966; a parody of the James Bond films. Presented at the Venice Film Festival in 1971, The cowwhich recounts the painful loss of the animal by its farmer owner, will leave with the Jury Prize.

We also owe him Monsieur le naïf (1970) and The cycle (1974). Living in France between 1980 and 1985, he signed the docu-fiction The Journey to the Land of Rimbaud. Back in Iran, he triumphed in theaters in 1987 with his film The Tenants, which tells the life of eccentric tenants installed in a residential building on the outskirts of Tehran.

Released in 1990, Hamoun was a dramatic comedy recounting 24 hours in the life of an Iranian intellectual tormented by his divorce and his existential questions, in a country then invaded by large foreign technology groups like Sony or Toshiba.

Filming regularly despite the vicissitudes and vagaries of Iranian political life, Dariush Mohrjui signed a film in 2022, LA Minor. The story – written by the filmmaker’s wife – of a young woman (played by Pardis Ahmadieh) seeing her musical vocation thwarted by her father, who does not see it that way. In 2014, most of his films were the subject of a retrospective organized at the Forum des images, with a tribute in his presence.

“I don’t make directly political films to promote a particular ideology or point of view. But everything is political (…) Cinema is like poetry, which cannot take sides with anyone. Art must not become a tool propaganda Dariush Mehrjui recently declared to Iranian media.

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