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Sardar Sager

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Sardar Sager

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There is some consensus among researchers about what has been obscured by the national and metropolitan frameworks that have established the field of cinema history. Principled challenges to these frameworks is a first step. Processing legacy of a field’s methods is another matter. To do so, we must consider how uneven these trajectories have been in the history of our field. In the study of twenty-first century transnational film co-productions, the analysis of cross-border connections is a matter of course. It is no stranger to the study of cinematic new waves either, especially after recent current theorizations of “global art cinema” have updated the foundational cinema studies texts on art cinema written in the 1970s. Early and emergent cinema studies likewise have considered regional flows of workers, films, and intellectual hustle in periods before established studio infrastructure. One period and phenomenon that has lagged behind others is that of “golden age” or the first flush of organized studio production. These ages delimit periods of growth of a medium-sized studio system, in which production norms, star systems, professional specialization, and stylistic conventions stabilize. These, more often than other periods, have a tendency to be discussed affirmatively in terms of national development or negatively in terms of derivation from a global dominant cinema. This tendency has obscured not only the transnational, transregional, and multiethnic dimensions of small studio formation. It also creates problems for film preservation. Genre films made by filmmakers who do not align with national narratives industry development are rarely top preservation priorities, and in the world of film preservation only top priorities secure the funding to be preserved and programmed.

 

This essay takes the career of Sardar Sager, beginning in Bombay and ending in Iran, as a way to track regional formations of expertise. Sager is the best known filmmaker among dozens of film workers in the early studio period in Iran–the 1950s and early 1960s–who worked in relation to media institutions (schools, studios, professional disciplines, technical infrastructure) of South Asia. More important to the argument of this paper than the fact of Sager’s émigré status in Tehran studios is the way this status was crafted in the public eye as he became a major director for Studio Caravan Film and Studio Kohinoor Film. This status pervades the trade press and, I argue, is taken up reflexively in his early films. His films created a kind of feedback loop in which critics and his collaborative work each highlighted aspects of his films’ music, choreography, disguise plots, moving camera, and canted angles as evidence of expertise gained through a connection to Bombay studios and schools. Global golden ages thus not only lend themselves to work against the national frameworks, in doing so they also reveal regional definitions of craft less evident in other periods in cinema history.

Cite this article

Cinema Iranica (April 13, 2024) Sardar Sager. Retrieved from https://cinema.iranicaonline.org/article/sardar-sager/.
"Sardar Sager." Cinema Iranica - April 13, 2024, https://cinema.iranicaonline.org/article/sardar-sager/
Cinema Iranica December 3, 2023 Sardar Sager., viewed April 13, 2024,<https://cinema.iranicaonline.org/article/sardar-sager/>
"Sardar Sager." Cinema Iranica - Accessed April 13, 2024. https://cinema.iranicaonline.org/article/sardar-sager/