viii. The Pioneers and Promoters

Of the initial contributors to Kanun’s production activities, many artists and writers submitted only one or two works. Most of these writers/intellectuals were not at ease with creative output in children’s categories (see above, iii). Thus, although there were freelance artists who regularly accepted commissions to write, translate, illustrate books, produce films, compose music, and recite poems or narrate stories for audio productions, the main burden of the tasks fell on those who became principal key players and permanent elements, accepting different responsibilities in shaping the direction of Kanun in the 1960s and early 1970s. A number of these individuals are discussed below.

Aḥmad-Reżā Aḥmadi (1940-), avant-garde poet, started as a writer for Kanun with the book “I have something to say that only you children would believe,” 1971 (Figure 16). He was appointed as manager of the sound recording production section at the encouragement and behest of Kanun’s managing director in 1970. He became an excellent promoter for Kanun’s music collections (Aḥmadi, pp. 184-204; also see above, vii).

Hazhir Daryoush (Hažir Dāryuš; (1938-95), a graduate of the famous French film school, l’Institut des hautes etudes cinematographiques, was a film promoter and teacher. In 1966 he founded the International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults (Festivāl-e bayn-al-melali-e filmhā-ye kudakān o nowjavānān) for Kanun and managed the first three years’ editions (see above, iv).

Parviz Davāʾi (1935-), a writer/translator and a popular film critic, was director of the Tehran International Film Festival for Children and Young Adults for three editions: the sixth (1969), seventh (1970) and eighth (1971). He had also assisted the previous directors from the outset, when Dāryuš founded the Festival in 1964. A couple of his scripts were also made into films for Kanun (see above, iv and v).

Nāder Ebrāhimi (1936-2008) was a prolific writer, whose first book for children “Away from home” (Dur az ḵāneh), published in 1968, showed his interest in the young readers’ world and their language development. He wrote over 50 books for children and young adults, including “The squirrels” (Sanjābhā, 1970), and “The story of the carpet’s flowers” (Dāstān-e golhā-ye qāli, 1973), as well as books on writing for children: “Introduction to Farsi writing for children” (Moqaddame-ye bar fārsi-nevisi barā-ye kudakān, 1985), and “An Introduction to editing and illustrating children’s books” (Moqaddame-ye bar moṣavvar-sāzi-e ketābhā-ye kudakān, 1988). He also wrote many collections of short stories and novels for adults. He started as book editor in the early years of Kanun, but in 1970 he left to establish a separate publishing house. with his wife Farzāneh Manṣuri (The Institute for Research of the History of Children’s Literature in Iran at: http://www.iranak.info /en/DataBase; also http://www.naderebrahimi.info /index.html).

Sheida Gharachedaghi (Šeydā Qaračedāḡi; 1941-), pianist and composer, founded Kanun’s Music Training Center in 1971. While organizing and teaching at the center, she also composed the scores for eight films produced by Kanun: “The seven cities” (Haft šahr); “Boasting” (Man ānam keh), also known in English as “I am he who,” award, 4th International Berlin Film Festival, 1974; “Look again” (Dobār-e negāh kon, 1974), award, 8mm Camera, Moscow International Film Festival, 1975; “The one who daydreamed, the one who acted” (Ān ke ḵiāl bāft, ān ke ʿamal kard, 1971), Special Diploma, Lebanon 2nd Educational Film Festival, 1973; “What do I know?” (Man čeqadr midānam? 1972); “Atal matal” (Atal matal tutule, 1974); “With permission” (Bā ejāze, 1971); and “The bamboo fence” (Parčin-e ḵeyzarān, 1976), Honorary Award, 11th International Dijon Film Festival, 1976; Special Award, 10th Moscow International Film Festival, 1977; Special Diploma, Manheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival, 1977.

Parviz Kalāntari (1931-), painter and writer, started as book illustrator and was later responsible for the painting and drawing training program in the libraries. He was, along with Nur-al-Din Zarinkelk, the only painter/art designer who had children’s book illustration experience prior to the Kanun period, though mostly for textbooks and magazines. His humorous books are also appreciated by younger generations. In his paintings, his particular way of composing elements with an artfully simplified style, inspired by Iranian traditional paintings and architecture, continues to impress visitors in international exhibitions and art events. He wrote and designed, among others, “Where is Mr. Rahim’s home?” (Ḵāne-ye Raḥim Āqā kojāst? 1982).

Abbas Kiarostami (1940-), a painting graduate of Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts (see faculties of the university of tehran), became educational films director of Kanun. Kiarostami and many other young filmmakers created brilliant educational films. Both before and while managing the educational films section, he contributed a handful of short and feature-length fiction films through Kanun’s Film Department. Moreover, Kiarostami’s post-Revolution internationally acclaimed feature “Where is the friend’s home?” (Ḵāna-ye dust kojāst? 1997; Figure 17), was also produced by Kanun’s Film Production Department (see cinema ii. feature films).

Don Roger Laffoon (1942-), a professional director, initiated the children’s theater activities and puppet show at Kanun in 1971 in cooperation with a number of Iranian dramatists. Laffoon first went to Iran to teach English as part of President Kennedy’s Peace Corps Volunteer program (in Hamadan, 1964-66). After receiving his M.A. (Theatre Directing) in 1968 from Purdue University, he was hired as the first artistic director of the Iran-America Cultural Center, where he staged more than twenty major plays (1968-71). He was then asked to found the Theater Center for Kanun. Laffoon has the distinction of being the only non-Iranian to ever serve as a department head at Kanun (see above, vii) and served as director of its Theater Center (1971-76).

Faršid Meṯqāli (1943-), a graduate of Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in 1970, started his work before graduation. His first book illustration, “A little black fish” (Māhi-e siāh-e kučulu) by Ṣamad Behrangi, was the first international prizewinning work for Kanun (Bratislava and Bologna, 1969; Figure 2). At the same time, he became a filmmaker (of both animated and live films). He later managed Kanun’s famous graphic workshop, which housed works by some of the most important Iranian painters, sculptors, and art designers. A number of them, mostly internationally known artists, also tried their hand at animated films for Kanun, including: Nur-al-Din Zarrinkelk, Morteżā Momayyez (q.v.), Bahman Dādḵᵛāh, Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Ḥaqiqi, Nikzād Nojumi, Moṣṭafā Owji, Moḥammad-Reżā Dādgar, Parviz Maḥallāti, Sudābeh Āgāh, Moḥammad-Reżā ʿAdnāni, Ḥamid Nowruzi, Nafiseh Riāḥi, ʿAli-Akbar Ṣādeqi, Moḥammad-Reżā Setāresanj, and Parviz Nāderi (Meṯqāli, pp. 31-38; for a sample of Meṯqāli’s work, see Figure 18).

Moḥammad Mošref Āzād Tehrāni (1933–2005), nationally known by his penname, M. Āzād, was an avant-garde poet and teacher, and author of over ten books, many songs, and a play in verse form for children. He continued as an editor, simplifying difficult Persian classical and contemporary texts or correcting and editing translated books for children up to his last day at Kanun (see above, iii).

ʿAli-Akbar Ṣādeqi (1937-), an original painter, stylized traditional motifs derived from Persian miniature and epic popular tea-house paintings; he began illustrating children’s books for Kanun in the mid-1960s. He was among the first painters to attempt to animate their paintings and made the first animated films for Kanun. He has garnered over 15 national and international prizes and recognitions for his work (see above, v).

Ḥosayn Samākār (1940-) was primarily noted for his artistic talents; one of his short stories was adapted into an eight-minute animated film by ʿAli-Akbar Ṣādeqi (“The flower storm” [Golbārān, 1972]). But he was soon charged with the accounting and oversight of the budget and financial management, a role that eventually led to his appointment as finance director. Samākār served at this position up to the Revolution as well as in the early post-Revolution era (for his contributions to animation films, see above, v).

Cyrus Ṭāhbāz (1939-98), a medical student of Tehran University who dropped out in his fifth year of studies, was already a talented editor of literary reviews when he started as book editor for Kanun. He became director of publications when Shirvanlu left in 1971. He was a devotee of modern Persian literature and poetry; thanks to his efforts the younger generation were given the opportunity to read their first poems by Nimā Yušij, who was mostly unknown to them at the time. Nimā’s works published by Kanun include “The deer and the butterflies” (Āhu va parvānehā), 1970; and “An ortolan in the cage” (Tukāʾi dar qafas, 1972; Figure 19).

Nur-al-Din Zarrinkelk (1937-), a pharmacist and the first Iranian graduate of the Belgian school of animation in 1971, is commonly regarded as the father of Iranian animation films. Joining Kanun in 1972, he was a talented art designer and painter with a taste for revitalizing Persian old schools of naïve and figurative painting, but he also had a daring eye for adapting to modern subjects. He started as a book illustrator, and with the managing director’s full support he eventually became the founder of the first animation film school in Iran—another of Kanun’s vital cinematographic institutions and initiatives for the country. Zarrinkelk’s post-Revolution cinematic activities include the founding in 1999 of the first animation film festival (Jašnvāre-ye puyā-nemāʾi) in Iran; the first animation film school, “Helsinki School of Animation,” in Norway in 1988; and three years’ work at Disney Studios in California (Zarrinkelk, pp. 14-20; for a sample of his work, see Figure 20).

(Fereydoun Moezi Moghadam)

Originally Published: December 15, 2010

Last Updated: April 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 5, pp. 517-520

Cite this entry:

Fereydoun Moezi Moghadam, “KĀNUN-E PARVAREŠ-E FEKRI-E KUDAKĀN VA NOWJAVĀNĀN viii. The Pioneers and Promoters,” Encyclopædia Iranica, XV/5, pp. 517-520, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kanun-e-parvares-e-fekri-e-kudakan-va-nowjavanan-the-pioneers-and-promoters (accessed on 30 December 2012).