Iranian filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui, known for his groundbreaking 1969 film “The Cow” that ushered in a new era in Iranian cinema, and his wife were tragically discovered with fatal stab wounds in their residence just outside Tehran, as reported by Iran’s state media on Sunday.
Hossein Fazeli, a judiciary official, was quoted by Iran’s official IRNA news agency, confirming that Mehrjui and his wife, Vahideh Mohammadifar, were found lifeless with knife wounds to their necks. The shocking discovery was made by the couple’s daughter, Mona Mehrjui, who had gone to visit her father at their home in a suburb of Tehran on Saturday night.
The IRNA report specified that the identity of the assailant remained unknown, but authorities have launched an investigation into alleged knife threats made on social media in the weeks leading up to the tragedy.
Dariush Mehrjui, aged 83, played a pivotal role in the world of cinema. He attended the film program at the University of California, Los Angeles, during the early 1960s and emerged as a co-founder of Iran’s new wave of social realism in the early 1970s, largely thanks to his 1969 drama “The Cow.” This cinematic work is set in a rural Iranian village that collectively grapples with the loss of its sole cow, a film that left an indelible mark on Iranian filmmaking. Mehrjui’s subsequent creations include the intimate 1996 film “Leila,” which explores different perspectives on marriage in Iran, “The Pear Tree” (1999), an examination of the Iranian bourgeoisie, and “Bemani” (2002), which delves into the struggles of provincial women trying to lead ordinary lives in Iran’s ultra-conservative society. His achievements in the realm of cinema include accolades such as a Silver Hugo from the Chicago International Film Festival in 1998 and a Golden Seashell at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in 1993.
In 2005, Mehrjui presided over the jury at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema in France.
Jean-Marc Thérouanne, the director of Vesoul, expressed his condolences in a statement, remarking, “We have just learned of the tragic death of Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui and his wife, both brutally murdered by thieves,” and acknowledged the screening of Mehrjui’s films “The Cow,” “Leila,” and “Bemani” at the prestigious festival.