Cultural Activities and Recreational
There are a wide variety of different cultural activities going on in Iran and particularly in the Capital, Tehran, almost everyday. The more costly parts of these activities are sponsored and financed by the government while the private sector’s contribution to cultural activities are also remarkable. For instance, the government owns most of the theater halls while music tapes, magazines and books are mostly produced by private sector.
Every year hundreds of titles of books in different fields of Arts, culture, science and literature are published in Iran. Major publishers publish more than a hundred books in different areas and have their own distribution system across the country while on the other hand there are also publishers who produce only one or two books during the year and have them distributed through professional distribution agencies.
Beside an International Book Fair which is held in Tehran every May, there are several other book exhibitions across the country usually held on certain occasions. Foreign visitors have characterized the turnout at the Tehran International Book Fair as extraordinary. There is also a Book of The Year contest in Iran every year. A new organization named City of Book provides thousands of books in various languages particularly for children.
News stands in Tehran and other major cities of the country put on display scores of new magazines, periodicals and newspapers every day. More than 400 licenses have so far been issued for prospective publishers. The range of interests of magazines varies from microcomputers to transportation and from the kitchen to the space. However, most of the magazines have a cultural character dealing mainly with arts and literature. The scope of specialization of some of them is so narrow that one, for instance, advocates only the ideas and works of what it calls the third generation of modern Iranian writers and poets.
The Iranian film industry produces something around 50 feature films for more than 250 movie theaters across the country. These theaters also screen foreign productions for different tastes.
In the year 1990 scores of Iranian movies found their way to international film festivals across the world gaining worldwide acclaim for the country’s film industry.
The Fajr Film Festival, an international cinema event is held in Tehran every year in February, when movie lovers can see hundreds of Iranian and foreign films of high artistic quality in a matter of 10 or eleven days.
Another international event in the area of cinema is The International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults held in the beautiful city of Isfahan in October. Winning an award in these festivals can guarantee a movie’s box office success.
There are also scores of other film festivals in Iran which have only domestic significance. On the other hand, there are several film making schools in the country which cater to the film industry’s needs for artists and technicians.
Most of the Iranian feature films are produced by the private sector ,however, public sector organizations like IRIB and the Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults also do invest on film production.
Every year between September and June (in the next year) there are at least four plays on stage in Tehran every evening, however, theatrical activities continue during the rest of the year and elsewhere in the country.
Iran has a long dramatic tradition, notably evident in the passion plays and Punch and Judy shows. Nevertheless, most of the plays on the Iranian stages have a modern treatment although their contents may be classic or traditional.
There is a major theatrical festival in Tehran in February while competition among theatrical companies across the country continues throughout the year. The best performances are usually staged at the Fajr Theater Festival in February where the artists receive their awards.
There is more than one school in Iran where stage directors, actors, set designers, etc. are trained. The City Theater, The Sangalaj Auditorium and Vahdat Hall are among the best of Iranian theaters.
Like any other art, musical activity reaches its peak during the Ten Days of Dawn ceremonies marking the Islamic Revolution’s anniversary every February.
On that time, musicians from all over the country come to the capital to take part in a major festival of traditional Iranian music.
Traditional music groups, chamber orchestra and Tehran’s symphonic orchestra perform at Vahdat Hall several times a year.
Meanwhile, tapes of Iranian and foreign classical music can be bought at any bookstore across Iran.
The aesthetic attributes of written words have been always appreciated in Iran. The advent of Islam redoubled the aesthetic value of words in the eyes of Iranians owing to the high significance they attached to Islamic texts.
During the 15th and 16th centuries calligraphy gained even more importance when it found its way into two other significant artistic forms of that period namely architecture and miniature.
The art of Persian calligraphy reached the peak of its perfection with the emergence of the Nastaliq style which display’s the art’s unique Persian characteristics. Initiated in mid 15th century, this fine style of Persian calligraphy was further completed by masters of the art during 16th and 18th centuries. The greatest master of this style was Mir Emad who died in the year 1617.
Beside Nastaliq, more classic styles like Kufi , Naskh and Thulth, as well as the newer style of Shikasta Nastaliq are still being practiced by thousands of aspiring Iranian calligraphers who are being trained by masters of the art across the country.
As early as the 11th century, the Iranians were the undisputed masters of the art of miniature. Although the art was inspired by Chinese motifs following the Mongol invasion of Persia, Iranian originality once again dominated later in skilfully composed and pathetic illustrations inspired by the national epic Shahnameh or Ferdowsi’s The Book of Kings.
Early in the year 1991, as Iranians celebrated the millennium of composition of Shahnameh, several Iranian publishers published beautiful Iranian miniatures which were released along with their new editions of the book.