May 24, 2024

Iranian director Dariush Mehrjui, whose 1969 “The Cow” opened up a new era in Iranian filmmaking, and his wife have been found stabbed to death in their home outside Tehran, Iran’s state media reported on Sunday.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted judiciary official Hossein Fazeli as saying that Mehrjhi and his wife, Vahideh Mohammadifar, were found dead with knife wounds in their necks by the director’s daughter, Mona Mehrjui, when she went to visit her father Saturday night at their home home in a Tehran suburb.

The IRNA report said the assailant was unknown but that authorities are investigating alleged knife threats to the victims made on social media in recent weeks.

Mehrjui , 83, attended the film program at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the early 1960s and during the early 1970s became known as co-founder of Iran’s new wave of social realism thanks to his 1969 drama “The Cow” set in a rural Iranian village that collectively suffers the loss of its single cow. His subsequent works comprise the more intimate 1996 film “Leila” which looks at different conceptions of marriage in Iran; “The Pear Tree” (1999) which examined the Iranian bourgeoisie; and “Bemani” (2002) about provincial women struggling to lead normal lives in Iran’s ultra-conservative society. Mehrjui’s many accolades include a Silver Hugo from the Chicago International Film Festival in 1998 and a Golden Seashell at the San Sebastián International Film Festival 1993.

In 2005 Mehrjui presided over the jury of the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema in France.

“We have just learned of the tragic death of Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui and his wife, both brutally murdered by thieves,” Vesoul director Jean-Marc Thérouanne said in a statement, noting that “The Cow,” “Leila” and “Bemani” all screened at the prestigious fest.  

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