Safi Yazdanian – Dar donya ye to saat chand ast? AKA What’s the Time in Your World? (2014)

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On a sudden whim Goli decides to return to Iran after 20 years of living in France. She lands in Rasht, her home town, located in the north of the country. Farhad, a frame maker by trade, comes to welcome her. He seems to know her well, but the young woman has absolutely no recollection of him.

Director’s statement: I wanted to make a love story slightly different from those we are used to seeing. Farhad, the main character, is a man in love who demands nothing of that love to whom he has devoted all his life and who, like a sort of guardian angel, is content just to follow his beloved Goli’s life from afar.

The film considers what both parties bring to this love equation and reflects on what they gain and what they lose. To what extent can one maintain a sense of belonging when one lives outside one’s homeland and how does a revered image of home correspond to a concrete reality? What is more desirable, a world of one’s imaginings, the world as it is, or a mixture of the two? Continue reading

Asghar Farhadi – Darbareye Elly AKA About Elly (2009)

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About Elly, Iranian director Asgher Farhadi’s fourth feature, is a tightly-knit, intense drama about a sunny story gone tragic. Winner of the Best Director award at the Berlinale this year, the film has two distinct moods: light-hearted and good-humoured for the first 45 minutes, sombre and tense for the rest.

Three young couples, a handful of children, Elly (the nursery school teacher of one of the kids) and Ahmad (a young friend returned from Germany following an unhappy marriage and a divorce from his German wife and vacationing in Iran for ten days) take a holiday on the Caspian Sea. They are carefree, raucous, determined to live it up. But one of the women – Sepideh – has a hidden agenda, an inoffensive one on the face of it: she wants to bring pretty Elly and Ahmad together. Continue reading

Jafar Panahi – Taxi AKA Taxi Teheran (2015)

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Jafar Panahi is banned from making movies by the Iranian government, he poses as a taxi driver and makes a movie about social challenges in Iran. (IMDb)

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One can wonder how is it possible that the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced by the authoritarian regime of his country to 20 years without making cinema, still manages to direct clandestine masterpieces with a disarming simplicity, emotional truthfulness, social-political awareness, and delightfully humorous situations. Well, my theory is the following: if you really love what you do and have something to say, there’s nothing that can stop you. After his professional banishment, Panahi has directed critically acclaimed films that mix reality and fiction, thoroughly mirroring what he was experiencing at each of those well-defined time slots of his existence. Continue reading

Mohsen Makhmalbaf – Nassereddin Shah, Actor-e Cinema AKA Once Upon a Time, Cinema (1992)

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In this meditation on the history of cinema, contemporary scenes blend with clips from the silent era. A cinematographer (Mehdi Hashemi) consults with the shah of Iran (Ezzatollah Entezami) in an attempt to convince him that cinema is beautiful. Movies are censored, however: the shah bans them himself. But when the shah falls in love with a beautiful silent-film actress (Fatemah Motamed-Aria), he forfeits the throne and crosses into the realm of the movie screen to be with his love. Continue reading