Publication Date

Fall 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Television, Radio, Film and Theatre


Alison McKee

Subject Areas

Anthropology, Cultural.; Middle Eastern Studies.; Cinema.


This thesis examines the documentary Shahri dar Aasemaan (i.e. A City in the Sky) by the late filmmaker Sayyed Morteza Avini's in order to establish its key elements and argue for Avini as an auteur with a unique cinematic style that includes strong personal and ideological ties. Shahri dar Aasemaan, which was Avini's last documentary, covers the initial forty-five-day battle leading to the Iraqi occupation of the Iranian city of Khorramshahr when the Iran-Iraq war broke out in October of 1980. In order to better comprehend Avini as an auteur and his work, this study begins with a brief introduction to Avini's biography and the history of the Iran-Iraq war. The following chapter is a comparison to The War, a documentary in seven episodes by American director Ken Burns in 2007 about the Second World War. The purpose of this comparison is to discuss Shahri dar Aasemaan in the context of another film that has documented a war at length rather than in isolation, a type of analysis that has not yet been conducted either inside or outside of Iranian borders about Avini's films. The focus of the thesis' remaining chapters is on Shahri dar Aasemaan as both artistic and cultural artifact.