The rise of Iranian cinema to world prominence over the last few decades is one of the most fascinating cultural stories of our time. There is scarcely an international film festival anywhere that does not honour the aesthetic and political explorations of Iranian artists. Three generations of filmmakers -- from Bahram Beiza'i to Mohsen Makhmalbaf to his daughter Samira makhmalbaf -- are all active today, creating works of spectacular range and depth. In Europe and North America, in Asia and Latin America, in Australia and Africa, the thematic and narrative richness of Iranain cinema has met with tremendous acclaim. Indeed, its particular mode of realism -- building on such cinematic antecedents as Italian, French and German neo-realism -- has become truly transnational, contributing a new visual vocabulary to filmmaking everywhere.