What is Cinema Invisible

Cinema Invisible is an idea that arose out of the impassioned conversations between two Iranians living far from their homeland in the wake of the tumultuous 2009 presidential election. Similar conversations are occurring daily in many societies and cultures, inspiring artists to express ideas that need to be shared. Inextricably connected with the realities of political, cultural and social phenomena, Cinema Invisible is committed to initiating and sustaining intellectual exchange with artists, filmmakers and viewers interested to further explore the breadth and depth of this genre.

Invisible Cinema is/is not independent

It is not simple to define independent and/or invisible cinema as a genre. The definition of independent cinema changes with history and context, and can involve any or all of the possible choices or constraints with regard to artistic intent, financing, distribution and other factors. Even the notion of the independent cinema’s aesthetic quality as distinct from the dominant industry is hard to defend when we acknowledge that both independent and/or invisible cinema may follow the classic and customary artistic practices while popular cinema may adopt uncustomary methods.    

FCI’s definition of Invisible Cinema includes following categories:

  • Hidden Cinema

Hidden cinema may refer to the existence of themes or ideas that are hidden, however unconsciously, in the works of some filmmakers. These concepts that may be political, social, cultural or racial, then surface at a later time and as result of certain changes in social, national or global circumstances. For example, after the Islamic revolution certain impressions became apparent in some Iranian films made earlier, which were not consciously placed at the time of their production, or would not have meant much if the revolution had not happened.

Hidden Cinema might also include a specific idea or concept that does not directly relate to the subject of the film but is revealed and made explicit only through the conceptual lens of Hidden Cinema, for example, a certain geographic location that is used as background.

At times, this hiding is deliberate and is used by one cultural, social or political stream against another. The disregarding of Third Cinema prior to the Sixties is a case in point. Or what is hidden might be rooted in religious fanaticism, racial prejudice or ethnic bigotry. Finally, censorship can hide all or part of a film. Therefore, Invisible Cinema includes films that have been censored at the time of their making or purged according to the standards of the censor.

  • Unseen Cinema

This category naturally includes films that have been forgotten or ignored (whether when they were made, or after a passage of time). A film that is pulled out of the archives and reevaluated by a critic or a film specialist could be labeled as unseen. However, once such a film is discovered and screened it will no longer belong to this category.

  • Death of the Invisible Cinema

Although Invisible Cinema has always existed, it has not yet been given its proper place within the history of this artistic industry. Naturally, once a festival finds and screens invisible cinema (with all its implied categories), it faces the paradox inherent in this label. Once an invisible film is exhibited at a festival (local, regional, national or international) it is no longer invisible. The life of this new condition of visibility may be as short as the duration of the festival or as long as it attracts audiences. Therefore, presentation of such films embraces the paradox that exists within the concept of Invisible Cinema.

Festival Cinema Invisible


Too many recent films from the Middle East, North Africa and beyond are unable to achieve entry into the channels of distribution and the wider audiences that they deserve. The Annual Festival Cinema Invisible (AFCI) creates visibility for endangered cinema of the region, giving filmmakers the opportunity to develop and grow while bringing their work to the attention of viewers who are eager to broaden arena for cultural exchange and diverse visions.

FCI spin-off


Twice each year, Cinema Invisible will present the best films of each annual FCI event, deepening the opportunity for dialogue between artists and their audience through screenings, discussion panels and audience-access events.