A haunting love story that spans three decades, Rhino Season is based on the tragic story of a Kurdish poet and family friend of Ghobadi’s who was unjustly incarcerated during Iran’s Islamic Revolution. The victim of a personal vendetta, Sahel (Behrouz Vossoughi) is thrown into prison along with his devoted wife Mina (Monica Bellucci). Inexplicably released after serving a ten-year sentence, Mina is informed by the authorities that Sahel is dead. Heartbroken, she and her two children leave Iran for Istanbul — unknowingly leaving behind her very-much-alive husband, who is forced to stay in prison for another twenty years. Finally released, Sahel sets out to find his wife, the memory of whom was the only thing that had sustained him throughout his agonizing ordeal. But after clinging to an intangible vision for so many years, what is the reality that awaits him now?
mijfilm.com Continue reading
Gabbeh is a brilliantly colorful, profoundly romantic ode to beauty, nature, love and art. Mohsen Makhmalbaf originally traveled to the remote steppes of southeastern Iran to document the lives of an almost extinct tribe of nomads. For centuries, these wandering families created special carpets – Gabbeh – that served both as artistic expression and autobiographical record of the lives of the weavers. Spellbound by the exotic countryside, and by the tales behind the Gabbehs, Makhmalbaf’s intended documentary evolved into a fictional love story which uses a gabbeh as a magic story – telling device weaving past and present’ fantasy and reality.
On the banks of a stream, an old woman and her husband are washing their Gabbeh. From this carpet comes forth a beautiful young woman – aptly named Gabbeh – who shares her epic tale: she is desperately in love with a mysterious horseman who follows her clan from after. Though her father has agreed to let her marry the man, season after season, the horseman follows Gabbeh—always present, always waiting, howling songs of love after nightfall.
Delicately interlaced with this simple and touching love story are the people whose lives are shaped by the rhythms of nature, and who instinctively express the joys and sorrows of life through song, poetry, and the tales they tell in their brilliantly-hued weavings. Continue reading
The Children of Heaven (1997)
FILM REVIEW; For a Pair of Sneakers, Longing, Lies and a Plan
By JANET MASLIN
The young hero of Majid Majidi’s ”Children of Heaven” is played by Mir Farrokh Hashemian, a desolate-looking boy with huge brown eyes and a way of sending tears suddenly rolling down his cheeks. Those tears well up with some regularity during this film about 9-year-old Ali, his younger sister Zahra (Bahareh Seddiqui) and their scheme for sharing a pair of his tattered sneakers. The children want to hide the fact that Zahra’s shoes have been lost because this will be a hardship for their parents. The family’s carefully detailed poverty, which reflects the filmmaker’s own childhood experience, colors everything that happens in this story.
Events in the film are seen through the children’s ingenuous eyes, as is so often and artfully the case in Iranian films. (A child’s-eye view is, among other things, helpful in circumventing Government censors.) But in the more honest, less manipulative films that this one resembles — especially the graceful work of Jafar Panahi (”The White Balloon,” ”The Mirror”) — what the young characters observe is liable to be more surprising than it is here. In ”Children of Heaven,” life is sweet despite countless hardships, and no reality beyond the economic intrudes upon a fairy tale atmosphere. Only through heavy-handed emphasis does the quest for new sneakers take on any greater meaning. Continue reading
Makhmalbaf puts an advertisement in the papers calling for an open casting for his next movie. However when hundreds of people show up, he decides to make a movie about the casting and the screen tests of the would-be actors.
Absolute Beauty! Continue reading
After casting painter and video artist Mania Akbari as the central figure of his groundbreaking Ten (2002), and then witnessing her outstanding debut as a feature film director in 20 Fingers (2004), Abbas Kiarostami urged her to direct a sequel to the film. In Dah be alaveh Chahar (10 + 4), though, circumstances are different: Mania is fighting cancer. She has undergone surgery; she has lost her hair following chemotherapy and no longer wears the compulsory headscarf; and sometimes she is too weak to drive. So the camera follows her to record conversations with friends and family in different spaces, from the gondola she had famously used in her first feature to a hospital bed. Yet, while he body shows the effects of the disease, Akbari is as tough, charismatic, and argumentative as in her previous screen appearances her luminous presence all the more alluring and precious as it becomes a sign of how fragile life itself is. Her cinematic language has been expanded and refined from the rigorous explorations of 20 Fingers, to take into account the unexpected aspects of facing simultaneously death and survival, social stigma and sympathy. Treading an elegant line between documentary and fiction, Akbari takes a daring look at complex social situations that arise in the face of mortality and emerges with a new zest for life. Continue reading
Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran’s 1953 CIA-backed coup d’état, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard, where they find independence, solace and companionship.
WOMEN WITHOUT MEN (Winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director and the UNICEF award at the Venice Film Festival 2009), an adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur’s magic realist novel, is acclaimed Iranian artist, Shirin Neshat’s, first feature length film. It is an incisive and sumptuously filmed reflection on the pivotal moment in history that directly led to the Islamic revolution and the Iran we know today. The story chronicles the intertwining lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953; a cataclysmic moment in Iranian history when an American led, British backed coup d’état brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and reinstalled the Shah to power. Continue reading
Made surreptitiously in 1977 just as the Ayatollah Khomeini regime was coming to power, a rough cut of ‘The Sealed Soil” was smuggled out of Iran by the director in a false-bottomed suitcase, and taken to the U.S., where che completed her final cut. The film has never been seen in Iran Continue reading