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Perhaps not the first person to drop out of law school to become a film student, but surely the first Iranian, Houshang Kavoosi arrived in Paris soon after the end of World War II. Within a couple years, he abandoned the law and enrolled at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques, France’s leading film academy. With a filmmaking degree and production apprenticeships, he moved on to the Sorbonne and a doctorate devoted to what he described as the “sociology of cinema.” After his initial attempts to make a film back home were thwarted by clashes with producers, he completed his first feature in 1956. When it met with little success, he refocused his efforts on film criticism, most notably coining the term filmfarsi to describe—and deride—the lamely derivative mainstream Iranian cinema of the time.

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