Mohsen Islamzadeh – Sunnis in Iran -How Sunni Muslims live in a Shiite country (2015)

At the time of the Egyptian crisis, Ahmad Mustafa, an economic and political analyst from Egypt, finds an opportunity to travel to Iran to meet and talk Sunni people; an 11000 kilometer journey; a memorable visit, from the country’s most important decision-making centers to its most outlying border areas, from the green strands of the Caspian Sea forests to the Khorasan and Baluchistan desert areas and the high mountains of Kurdistan. On this journey he hopes he will know the real Iran, a country frequently misrepresented by Western and Arab media. How Sunni Muslims live in a Shiite country? That’s the question that’s brought Ahmad Mustafa to Iran. Continue reading

Jafar Panahi – Talaye sorkh AKA Crimson Gold (2003)

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Synopsis :
A murder and a suicide occur early one morning in a jewelry store. Behind this headline lies the story of a desperate man’s feelings of humiliation in a world of social injustice …
When his friend Ali shows him the contents of a lost purse, Hussein cannot imagine the large sum of money marked on a receipt for an expensive necklace. He knows that his pitiful salary will never be enough to afford such luxury. Hussein feels even lower on the social scale when a smooth-talking professional thief mistakes the two friends for petty crooks. Hussein receives yet another blow when he and Ali are denied entry to an uptown jewelry store because of their appearance.
Hussein’s job delivering pizzas allows him a full view of the contrast between rich and poor. He motorbikes every evening to neighborhoods he will never live in for a closer look at what goes on behind closed doors. The hypocrisy of the system is thrown in his face wherever he turns.
But Hussein will taste the luxurious life for one night before his deep feelings of humiliation push him over the edge. Continue reading

Abbas Kiarostami – Avaliha aka First Graders (1984)

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From IMDb:
A documentary film about a boys school in Iran. The film shows numerous, funny and moving interviews of many different young pupils of this school summoned by their superintendent for questions of discipline. The man is not severe, but clever and fair. He teaches loyalty, fellowship and righteousness to these boys. Besides these interviews, we see scenes of this school’s quotidian life. Written by Jean-Louis Sauger Continue reading

Mohsen Makhmalbaf – Scream of the Ants (2006)

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Plot Synopsis from allmovie:
As a newlywed couple boards a train bound for India and are forced to reconcile atheism and faith in director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s spiritual-themed drama. He is a non-believer that is consumed by doubt, and she has faith that life’s answers will come to her through prayer. Though there is little that this newlywed couple can agree upon — including the prospect of having children — they do love each other and are intent upon sharing a spiritual honeymoon. In the midst of a philosophical debate, a holy man on the tracks forces the train to grind to a halt. While the local beggars revere the man for his power over the imposing locomotives, the truth is much less mystical. Years ago the man failed in committing suicide on the tracks when the oncoming train saw him and slowed down. These days he is compelled by the beggars to reenact the “miracle” daily so that the train will stop and they can collect alms from the passengers. Continue reading

Abbas Kiarostami – Tadjrebeh aka Experience (1973)

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Plot: Earning his keep at a photography studio where he also sleeps, an orphan aspires to be closer to the object of his affection, an older girl from a higher social class.

Quote:
An adolescent boy, old for his years like so many of Kiarostami’s (or Iran’s) working children, juggles a job as a photographer’s assistant, a first crush, and the urge to sample adulthood’s temptations (cigarettes and movies). This beautiful exercise in storytelling virtually without words is shot with the crispness and stark contrasts of Kiarostami’s still photography. But this vista teems with humanity—not only that of the boy, who is essentially without family (he sleeps at the photography lab), but of the adults he encounters (and who invariably let him down) on the urban pathways he courses. In his young actor, Kiarostami found a face and soul made for the screen. —Judy Bloch Continue reading

Mohsen Makhmalbaf – Dastforoush AKA The Peddler (1987)

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The Peddler
An impressive, often powerful Iranian feature (1987, 95 min.) by Mohsen Makhmalbaf—who started out as an antishah activist and fiction writer—composed of three sketches dealing with the poor in Tehran (1987). The first, freely adapted from an Alberto Moravia story, follows the appalling misadventures of an impoverished couple with four crippled children as they try to get their fifth and latest child adopted, in the hope that she won’t wind up crippled as well. The second follows the equally pathetic life of a scatterbrained, spastic Jerry Lewis type who devotes his life to caring for his aged and senile mother. (The couple from the first part reappear briefly in this episode.) The third part, shot in film noir style, is largely devoted to the grim fantasies of a clothes peddler who’s afraid of being killed by fellow traffickers. Each episode has a different cinematographer and all are shot very adroitly and fluidly, though the more self-conscious stylistics of the third part sit rather oddly with the first two episodes, which are often much closer to neorealism. According to Makhmalbaf, the film as a whole deals with the three stages of existence—birth, “journey through life,” and death. Critic Gerald Peary has compared the film to Rossellini’s Paisan, and it’s certainly true that the first episode is as wrenching as anything in that film or in Germany, Year Zero. In Farsi with subtitles. By Jonathan Rosenbaum
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