- Published on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 00:00
In the ever-growing canon of Iranian filmmaking, one name unmistakably stands out: Abbas Kiarostami. Since staking out his reputation as an internationally acclaimed director and screenwriter, his films, though deceptively simple in structure, have become famous for taking on complex issues: the legitimacy of suicide in Taste of Cherry; gender equality in The Wind Will Carry Us; Iran’s socio-political landscape as seen through the eyes of one woman in Ten; and most recently, relationship drama Certified Copy, his second film shot and produced outside of Iran.
Among Kiarostami’s entourage of critics and supporters, only a minority have garnered more acclaim than Geoff Andrew, who takes his expertise on the filmmaker a step further. While other film scholars just simply respect Kiarostami’s work from an academic distance, Andrew is one of the few people who brought his admiration for the filmmaker under a more analytical and speculative lens, which has played a significant role in introducing Kiarostami to the western audience. Andrew’s 2005 book, 10, looks at Kiarostami’s challenging 2002 film of the same name, carefully weaving his commentary on the film’s political and aesthetic relevance with the broader contexts of Kiarostami’s career and Iran’s international film culture.
Film scholar and Aslan Media Contributor Ehsan Khoshbakht sat down with Andrew in London’s National Film Theatre to talk about Kiarostami’s use of craft and narrative, as well as the future challenges he faces making films abroad as a result of censorship in Iran.
- Published on Thursday, 01 December 2011 05:36
With Norway still recovering from the devastating terrorist attack by Christian fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik last July, a new Norwegian television series called Taxi claims to challenge the established prejudices surrounding how ethnic minorities and “native” Norwegians interact.
Unfortunately, anyone who expected that to actually be the premise of the show would have found it disappointing at best and, at worst, detrimental to any further dialogue and understanding.
- Published on Friday, 14 October 2011 08:08
Recently, special screening of Iran’s official entry to the American Academy Awards was shown at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. The film, “A Separation,” is an emotionally riveting drama produced, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. It will premiere in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on December 30.
Set in contemporary Iran and shown in Farsi with English subtitles, the movie is about a woman named Simin who wants to take her husband Nader and their daughter, Termeh, to live abroad. She feels that Iran is not a place for her studious, 11-year-old to grow up. But Simin’s father-in-law is suffering from Alzheimer’s and Nader does not want to leave him behind.
Simin sues for divorce and is denied. Hurt that her husband does not want to leave with her, she goes to live with her parents. Termeh stays with Nader and her ailing grandfather. Nader hires a young woman to help with his father and take care of the house in his wife’s absence. However, she has some secrets of her own.
The rest of the movie is filled with suspenseful yet clever plot twists that keep you guessing. But the raw, human emotion portrayed so perfectly by these actors is what makes the film so delightful to watch.
- Published on Saturday, 17 September 2011 12:31
Rarely do Americans see a side of Pakistan - a nation that plays an integral part in the United States’ “war on terror” - apart from the slew of sensational images broadcast on mainstream media. The most frequently recurring image is that of a nation plagued by violence and poverty.
Bol or “Speak,” Pakistan’s second internationally released film, opened in movie theatres across the United States last Tuesday, giving international audiences a chance to see a cultural and artistic side of Pakistan. In Pakistan the film broke records, grossing 22.038 million Pakistani Rupees in six days.
Directed by Shoaib Mansoor, Bol is the story of a bold young lower-middle-class Pakistani woman, the eldest of many sisters, all of whom are born to a strictly fundamentalist father whose greatest desire is to have a son. In repeated attempts to preserve what he sees as his honor, he commits crimes and eventually ends up contradicting even his own most cherished beliefs.
Though it is far from a Bollywood blockbuster intended to please the masses, Bol has even received appreciation from long-time political rival India. It has created an opportunity for Indians to glimpse a film from a neighboring country about which most have had limited (and mostly negative) exposure through Indian mainstream media.
- Published on Saturday, 09 April 2011 09:29
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a sea of unspeakable tragedies that to us, outsiders looking in, have become commonplace. It has come to mean nothing but flashing headlines of destruction and sadness involving sobbing, distraught people, none of whom are distinguishable from another. We change the channel, vaguely disturbed, and forget all about it until the next tragedy comes along, sure to be forgotten in turn as well.
Now, with the advent of Miral, the conflict finally has a face — four of them, in fact. The film tells the closely interwoven stories of four extraordinary Palestinian women and is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by a woman who is an extraordinary Palestinian herself, journalist Rula Jebreal.
The first of these stories is that of Hind Husseini, founder and director of the Dar-El-Tifel girls orphanage/school of Jerusalem. Hind is an outstanding example of the Palestinians who have overcome the harsh circumstances of their continuously deteriorating situation to become beacons of hope. From a well-known family, she used her influence to develop Dar-El-Tifel and along with it the psyche of so many young Palestinian girls who otherwise would not have had a future.