Cinema has inherited a habit of categorizing artworks into types from its other sister arts such as literature and painting. The question of genre in cinema has been raised with regards to European films and Hollywood films from the early years of film theory. As Robert Stam argues, as with the literary genres, filmic genres are influenced by social and historical factors. Cinematic categories have been defined with corollaries located within the entire course of Western literature. It is often the case that these defined genres are applied to other, non-Western, cinemas since many of these terminologies are purported to be universal.
In the study of Iranian cinema, the terms Iranian New Wave or New Iranian cinema have been coined so as to define certain Iranian films in a relation to Western filmic genres. This definition of Iranian cinema, which was given to a group of films that enjoyed international acclaim in the 1990s, no longer can be held fixed as the only filmic genre of Iranian cinema, not even those that continue to find audiences in international settings. In recent years more diverse types of Iranian films have been given the chance to appear on international screens, and this fact, more than ever before, calls for a more meticulous categorizing of Iranian cinema into different, more specific, filmic genres. Although in this paper I will not question the notion of an Iranian New Wave, which has an aesthetic resemblance with Italian Neorealism, I will instead juxtapose Iranian cinema with its sister art, Persian literature, so as to propose better ways to categorize contemporary Iranian cinematic practice. Looking at several case studies drawn from the recent history of Iranian filmmaking, this paper proposes a new, critical methodology to redefine film genres used to discuss Iranian cinema.