Filmed on the Iran/Afghanistan border, KANDAHAR is a semi-documentary style movie that chronicles the perilous journey undertaken by an expatriate female journalist, Nafas, to reach the city of Kandahar, where she hopes to rescue her sister from committing suicide during an impending eclipse. However, Nafas’s odyssey is really little more than a device to lift the veil on the poverty and hardship of life in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Through a series of vignettes, the movie succeeds beautifully in revealing insights that are both fascinating and harrowing. It is almost impossible to imagine a culture so far removed from the relatively comfortable life enjoyed by more ‘civilised’ nations. Young boys rock back and forth, reciting the Koran while learning to become Mullahs, pausing only to recite the meaning and purpose of the sabre and semi-automatic machine gun when prompted by their teacher; young girls have lessons in how to resist the temptation to pick up possibly booby-trapped dolls; a doctor treats his female patient by speaking to them via children as they sit either side of a makeshift screen, and conducts his examinations through a small hole in the screen; the threat and consequences of land-mines pervade everybody’s life, and year-long waits for prosthetic legs are commonplace, so that prosthetics become a black-market currency. Continue reading
Mamo, an old and legendary Kurdish musician living in Iran, plans to give one final concert in Iraqi Kurdistan. After seven months of trying to get a permit and rounding up his ten sons, he sets out for the long and troublesome journey in a derelict bus, denying a recurring vision of his own death at half moon. Halfway the party halts at a small village to pick up female singer Hesho, which will only add to the difficulty of the undertaking, as it is forbidden for Iranian women to sing in public, let alone in the company of men. But Mamo is determined to carry through, if not for the gullible antics of the bus driver. Continue reading
Loneliness and isolation are a part of life for two mine keepers in a remote mountain town. Their only light of hope comes in the form of a small dog they find and an unknown woman they see walking in the distance. People enter and exit their lives, including a group of mine workers—but it is the very world they have created for themselves to deal with their loneliness that keeps others out. Nevertheless, they still ultimately find pleasure in the subtle and simple things of life.
Hamid Nematollah’s compelling drama “stakes out a new path for Iranian cinema” (Variety) as it exposes key problems plaguing modern-day Tehran. Johan is a gentle and thoughtful young man who works as a window dresser at a fashionable boutique. When a poor and very beautiful young girl enters his store, Johan feels compelled to steal a pair of blue jeans for her. This action triggers a downward spiral that will change Johan’s life forever. “Painfully real and engaging” (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times).—Iran—2004—115 mins.
This extraordinary debut feature, about a 7-year-old’s first journey alone into the streets of Tehran, is a movie of audacious subtlety and simplicity, and a deserving Cannes prize-winner. It takes place in ‘real time’, the 84 minutes leading to New Year (March 21), as little Razieh (Aïda Mohammadkhani) goes off to purchase, with her mother’s last 500 toman, the ‘chubby’ gold-fish that has taken her fancy. Along the way, she encounters snake-charmers, irate shopkeepers, a country-born soldier, a young Afghan boy with a white balloon – a whole world hitherto ‘forbidden’. Scripted in collaboration with leading Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, this is a film of small incident, minute, telling observations, and enormous heart and intelligence. Tethering the movie to the child’s point of view (both literal and metaphorical), Panahi absorbs us so entirely into his heroine’s delicate, enquiring world, that the loss of her money and her separation from her brother create an atmosphere of suspense as gripping as that of any Hitchcock thriller. Moreover, suggestive intimations of the troubled adult world – the mother’s anxiety in the bazaar, the lonely ‘outsiders’ – combine to produce a feeling of almost metaphysical tension.
- Source : Time Out Film Guide 13 Continue reading
Tahmineh Milani’s “The Fifth Reaction”
An Iranian Woman Fighting for Her Rights
By Josef Schnelle
Five women sit in a restaurant in Tehran and talk about their husbands and their marriages. First, the conversations are quite amusing, but later on we notice that each woman faces serious problems below the thin surface of legal rights granted to women in Iran. Continue reading
Today Iranian cinema is one of the most highly regarded national cinemas in the world, regularly winning festival awards and critical acclaim for films which combine remarkable artistry and social relevance. Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution traces the development of this film industry, which has always been closely intertwined with the country’s tumultuous political history, from the decades-long reign of Reza Shah Pahlevi and his son, the rise of Khomeini and the birth of the Islamic Republic, the seizure by militants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and the devastating war with Iraq. Continue reading