Iran

Mohsen Makhmalbaf – Bicycleran AKA The Cyclist (1989)

Summary
The wife of Nasim, an Afghan immigrant in Iran, is gravely ill. He needs money to pay for her care, but his day labor digging wells does not pay enough. A friend connects Nasim to a two-bit promoter who sells tickets to watch Nasim ride a bicycle continuously for a week. The promoter brings in sick and aged spectators, haranguing them to find hope in Nasim’s strength. Aided by his son, who feeds him as he rides, Nasim grinds out the days and shivering nights. Local officials believe this may be a plot and Nasim may be a spy; they try to sabotage him as do those who bet he won’t finish the week. Will desperation alone get Nasim the money? Is any triumph an illusion? Read More »

Fereydun Gole – Zir-e poost-e shab (1974)

IMDB:
In one of his daily wanderings, Ghassem Siah, a young jobless guy who leads a street life, runs into a young American tourist girl who is spending her last day in Tehran. Without understanding each other’s words, they strike up a friendship and the girl accepts to sleep with him. But Ghassem doesn’t have a place of his own and the girl is to depart by the next morning. Together they set off on the glistening yet hostile streets of modernizing Tehran of the 70s, in a futile search of a corner of intimacy, while time is ticking away…. Read More »

Asghar Farhadi – Shahr-e ziba AKA Beautiful City (2004)

Directed by multi-award winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, ‘Beautiful City’ is a cinematic gem not to be missed. Akbar has just turned eighteen. He has been held in a rehabilitation centre for committing murder at the age of sixteen when he was condemned to death. Legally speaking, he had to reach the age of eighteen so that the conviction could be carried out. Now, Akbar is transferred to prison to await the day of his execution. A’la, a friend of Akbar, who himself has undergone imprisonment for burglary, soon after his release tries desperately to gain the consent of Akbar’s plaintiff so as to stop the execution. ‘Beautiful City’ is a simple film about the power of forgiveness. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Avaliha aka First Graders (1984)

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. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Zire darakhatan zeyton AKA Through the Olive Trees (1994)

Quote:
‘Olive Trees’: Bears Message
By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 19, 1996

“Through the Olive Trees,” Abbas Kiarostami’s subtly involving faux-documentary, acquaints you directly with the time-consuming, spiritually enervating process of filmmaking. But there’s more to it than that. A film-within-a-film drama, it’s about a movie crew that is recruiting amateur actors in a mountainous region of Iran for a romance called “And Life Goes On‚. . .‚.” The area has just been devastated by an earthquake. Homes are crumbled and deserted. Many people are now living by the side of the highway. But the upheaval doesn’t preclude local excitement. Kids skip school and hike five miles to watch the filming. Girls, their heads draped in chadors, vie shyly to be chosen for a part. Read More »

Forugh Farrokhzad – Khaneh siah ast AKA The House Is Black (1963) (DVD)

From Village Voice: In 1962, beloved and controversial poetess Forugh Farrokhzad went to Azerbaijan and made this short film on the grounds of a leper colony, presaging in 22 minutes the entirety of the Iranian new wave and the international quasi-genre of “poetic nonfiction.” It’s a blackjack of a movie, soberly documenting the village of lost ones with an astringently ethical eye, freely orchestrating scenes and simply capturing others, while on the soundtrack Farrokhzad reads her own poetry in a plaintive murmur—this in the same year as Vivre sa Vie and La Jetée. (Chris Marker has long been a passionate fan, as has Abbas Kiarostami, whose The Wind Will Carry Us owes its title and climactic verse to Farrokhzad.) It was the only substantial piece of cinema Farrokhzad ever made. Five years later, having already attained near legendary status in Iran for her writing, she was killed in a car crash at the age of 32, guaranteeing her posthumous fame as a feminist touchstone for generations of angry Persian women. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Five: Dedicated to Ozu (2003)

Quote:
Five sequences : 1) A piece of driftwood on the seashore, carried about by the waves 2) People walking on the seashore. The oldest ones stop by, look at the sea, then go away 3) Blurry shapes on a winter beach. A herd of dogs. A love story 4) A group of loud ducks cross the image, in one direction then the other 5) A pond, at night. Frogs improvising a concert. A storm, then the sunrise. Read More »