Along with Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Majid Majidi was one of a handful of outstanding Iranian filmmakers to emerge in the 1990s, helping secure a new reputation for their nation in the international filmmaking community as well as painting a gentler and more human portrait of life in Iran than was commonly held in the West following the Islamic Revolution. At the same time, Majidi's films used stories about children and families as a way of metaphorically dealing with larger political and social issues that artists in Iran might not have been able to confront head on. Majid Majidi was born in Tehran in 1959; raised in a middle-class family, he developed an interest in theater in his early teens, and began performing with a group of amateur players at 14. While studying theater at Tehran's Institute of Dramatic Arts, Majidi started to take an interest in filmmaking, which only grew when he began winning small roles in local film productions. Majidi's first screen role to gain any significant notice outside of Iran was in the 1986 drama Boycott, and shortly after his acting career began to take flight, he moved over to the director's chair; 1992's Baduk was his first feature film, and it began to earn the filmmaker a reputation in the West. In 1996, Pedar became Majidi's real breakthrough, receiving awards at a number of international film festivals and finding distribution in nations not known to screen Iranian films. 1997's The Children of Heaven proved to be an even bigger success, scoring an Academy Award nomination as Best Foreign Language Film as well as top honors at the Los Angeles and Montréal International Film Festivals.