Baran (2001) - News Poster

(2001)

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Film Review: ‘Beyond the Clouds’

Film Review: ‘Beyond the Clouds’
Majid Majidi is a long way from home in “Beyond the Clouds,” a socially conscious underworld melodrama that sees the veteran Iranian humanist taking to the slums of Mumbai with a hint of Bollywood swagger. It’s a commendable departure, even if you can sense the helmer struggling to get the lay of the land at certain intersections in this heartfelt tale of an impoverished brother and sister seeking roundabout justice when she’s imprisoned for attempted murder.

What this brightly painted film lacks in streetwise authenticity, however, is balanced by its righteous strength of feeling: it’s finally the Tehran-based filmmaker’s keen compassion for society’s neglected underclasses that survives the trip across Asia intact. Festival play, following first showings in London and Busan, should run far and wide; the cross-cultural perspective and straight-ahead storytelling style of “Beyond the Clouds” broaden its distribution prospects. (Though that floaty, not-especially-evocative title risks confusion with the 1995 Antonioni-Wenders collaboration
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Iran’s Majid Majidi Returns to India With ‘Gold Mine’

Iran’s Majid Majidi Returns to India With ‘Gold Mine’
Majid Majidi, director of award-winning films including “Children of Heaven,” “Baran,” and “Muhammad: The Messenger of God,” is returning to India for his next project “Gold Mine.”

The Iranian filmmaker is reuniting with the producers of India-set “Beyond the Clouds,” Shareen Mantri Kedia and Kishor Arora, under their production outfit Namah Pictures, for “Gold Mine.” The film will revolve around the difficult lives of children who work in coal mines.

Casting will begin in November and principal photography will take place mid-2018.

“India has so many stories to tell within its myriad cultures of people from a different milieu. The ambience of India is just magical, truly incomparable to any other country. Within that ambience, exists a wonderful relationship between human beings and nature. The undying spirit of people and their hope from life despite their hardships is unbelievable,” said Majidi.

“Beyond the Clouds” will play in competition at the London Film Festival in October.

Related
See full article at Variety - Film News »

India’s Zee Flies ‘Beyond the Clouds’ With Iran’s Majid Majidi (Exclusive)

India’s Zee Flies ‘Beyond the Clouds’ With Iran’s Majid Majidi (Exclusive)
Jaipur – Sambhar, a village in Rajasthan, located some 200 miles from New Delhi, is adjacent to India’s largest saline lake and produces some 10% of the country’s salt. It has some glamorous antecedents too having hosted prominent Bollywood productions like “Jodhaa Akbar,” “Delhi-6,” “P.K.,” and “Highway.”

For much of March 2017, Sambhar witnessed a film shoot rather different from Bollywood. Iranian auteur Majid Majidi, director of award-winning films such as “Children of Heaven,” “Baran,” and “Muhammad: The Messenger of God,” chose a house in the village to stand in for a residence in Mumbai, where his latest film “Beyond the Clouds” is set.

Majidi had been planning to make an India-set film some eight years ago. “There are many similarities between Iran and India in culture, language and clothes,” says Majidi. “Sometimes we even use the same words and slang as well.”

The director’s quest to make a film
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Malavika Mohanan is Majid Majidi's leading lady for 'Beyond The Clouds'

  • FilmiPop
Well known theatre actor Malavika Mohanan bags the lead role for 2017's most coveted and talked about International film set in India, directed by Iranian auteur Majid Majidi. Beyond The Clouds There has been a lot of speculation around the leading lady of the most anticipated film of the year, Iranian film maker Majid Majidi's next - Beyond The Clouds - an International film set in India. And finally, it's time to put all the rumors to rest with Malavika Mohanan finalized as the new female protagonist of Mr. Majidi's tale of human relationships. Malavika, is the daughter of renowned cinematographer K.U Mohanan and is a well-rounded theater artist. Produced by Zee Studios and Eyecandy Films, Beyond The Clouds is a beautiful story centered around a brother-sister relationship. Says a source close to the project, “Mr. Majidi found his leading lady in Malavika as he was looking for
See full article at FilmiPop »

Deepika Padukone is unrecognisable in her de-glam avatar in Majid Majidi's film

  • FilmiPop
You will now see Deepika Padukone like never before on the big screen. The actress, who is currently gearing up for her most-awaited Hollywood debut film xXx: The Return Of The Xander Cage opposite Vin Diesel, has already begun shooting for an Iranian project with reowned Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi in Mumbai. And Deepika, who is known for wowing her fans with her beautiful looks, was almost unrecognisable in her new de-glam avatar in the film. Deepika, was spotted roaming in narrow lanes of Mumbai wearing dirty torn clothes with messed-up hair carrying dirty clothes in her hands at a dhobi ghat. Going by her looks, it looks like the Bajirao Mastani actress is probably playing the role of a rag picker in the film. She was also snaped sitting on the egde of an open-air concrete wash pen and smiling while listening to every instruction from her film's director Majid Majidi.
See full article at FilmiPop »

Angelina Jolie's 'By the Sea' among Camerimage special screenings

  • ScreenDaily
Angelina Jolie's 'By the Sea' among Camerimage special screenings
Plus… Apocalypse Now cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and director Majid Majidi to receive special award for their work on Muhammad: The Messenger of God.Scoll down for full list

Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea and Thomas McCarthy’s Spotlight are among the line-up of special screenings out-of-competition at the 23rd Camerimage (Nov 14-21), the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography held in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz.

The line-up will also include a look back at the 1999 Anthony Minghella film The Talented Mr. Ripley, featuring a Q&A with the film’s editor, Walter Murch.

Camerimage has also announced a special award for this year, to be presented to cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and director Majid Majidi for their film Muhammad: The Messenger of God, which will have its European premiere at the festival.

The film is the first part of a planned trilogy that tells the story of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, presenting
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Film Review: ‘Muhammad: The Messenger of God’

Film Review: ‘Muhammad: The Messenger of God’
Majid Majidi, the first Iranian helmer nominated for the foreign-language film Oscar (for 1997’s “The Children of Heaven”), delivers his country’s most expensive film to date with the lumbering, old-fashioned and overlong historical epic “Muhammad: The Messenger of God.” Budgeted in the neighborhood of $40 million, and boasting big names behind the scenes such as lenser Vittorio Storaro and composer A.R. Rahman, as well as craft departments bristling with foreign technicians, the 171-minute pic is the first of a projected trilogy that took seven years to complete. It hasn’t been worth the wait: The end result is something more akin to 1950s Hollywood biblical fare rather than Darren Aronofsky’s recent “Noah” or anything in Majidi’s previous oeuvre.

Muhammad: The Messenger of God” opened the Montreal World Film Festival on Aug. 27, a venue where Majidi previously won the Grand Prize of the Americas with “The Children of Heaven,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

30 Essential Iranian Films to Watch in Honor of Nowruz (Persian New Year)!

In the political discourse, when a country addresses another, whether in positive or negative terms, such statements often fail to differentiate between said country’s government and its people, between the government’s policies and the people’s unheard sentiment towards these.

While useful in the theoretical realm in which politics take place, these generalizations create a distorted image of the foreign nation fed by assumptions and dangerously insensitive stereotypes. It’s much easier for rulers to justify their actions if the adversary is made out to look like an irredeemable villain. Sensationalism and ignorance are weapons far more destructive than missiles, because once the smoke dissipates hatred remains.

On that note, it should be clear that the Iranian people are not the Iranian government. Their rich cultural history is not reflected in the actions of those in power, but in the prevailing elegance and allure of their artwork. Remarkable poets, musicians, painters, and, what we are mostly concerned with here, filmmakers.

The history of Iranian cinema is vast and has survived the many transitions and troubling periods the country has experienced. Even more impressive is the fact that as masterfully as Iranian filmmakers and actors understand the medium, they have never watered down their individuality for the sake of mainstream international success. Instead, they’ve managed to create their unique cinematic language that aligns with their idiosyncrasies and that is not silenced despite the hardships they face, but finds a way around censorship or defies it altogether.

Certainly not a definitive list, the following collection of films aims to be an introduction to the compelling and diverse voices within this captivating national cinema and to encourage you to seek out other films in the future. There are films here that are concerned with rural and working class lifestyles, others that focus on the traditions of ethnic minorities, those that deal with the modern middle class, and also several works denouncing the country’s political situation and the oppression that comes with it.

There are also some films that are note worthy even if they don’t easily fit within the parameters of what an Iranian film is.

Special Mentions:

-Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour and her outstanding Farsi-language debut “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” a visually striking vampire story set in a fictional Iranian town.

-American filmmaker Till Schauder and his documentary “The Iran Job,” which follows Kevin Sheppard, an American professional basketball player in Iran, and uses his experience to build cultural bridges between the two countries.

-Farhadi’s “The Past,” which though is not precisely an Iranian story, continues to show the director’s specific talent for greatly written, puzzling narratives both in his home country and abroad.

-Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's “Chicken with Plums,” a gorgeously whimsical and darkly comedic love story set in pre-revolutionary Tehran starring Mathieu Amalric.

Lastly, in honor of Nowruz or Persian New Year, which is a peaceful celebration of renewal and rebirth that takes place from March 20-24 in Iran and Iranian communities around the world, let’s remember the deeply moving and wise words that Asghar Farhadi gifted us during his acceptance speech on Oscar night a few years back. No one could have said it better than him.

“At this time many Iranians all over the world are watching us, and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award, or a film, or a filmmaker, but because at a time in which talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people that respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment. Thank you so much.” –Director Asghar Farhadi after winning the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award for “A Separation” on February 26, 2012

1. "About Elly" (2009)

Dir. Asghar Farhadi

In Farhadi's tense psychological drama a casual trip to the sea evolves into a subtly plotted mystery. The director's depiction of the Iranian middle class in such a fascinatingly unexpected story connected with both local and international audiences earning him awards at home and abroad, among them Berlin's Silver Bear.

*The Cinema Guild will release the film theatrically on April 17, 2015

2. "Baran" (2001)

Dir. Majid Majidi

Taking a look at the diverse ethnic groups that coexist in Iran, the film follows a love story between a man and a young Afghan woman who must pretend to be a man in order to work. Eliciting truly naturalistic performance from his cast Majidi gives voice to his almost silent protagonist, a woman caught up in a system designed by men.

*Available on Netflix Instant Watch

3. "Children of Heaven" (1997)

Dir. Majid Majidi

Iran's first ever Academy Award nominated film is also Majidi's most renowned work. Innocence permeates this sweet story about two siblings from a working class family trying to find a pair of missing shoes. Their adventure delivers valuable life lessons that are at once heartwarming and profound. Unquestionably a classic.

*Available on Netflix Instant Watch and on DVD from Lionsgate

4. "Closed Curtain" (2013)

Dir. Jafar Panahi & Kambuzia Partovi

In this enigmatic observation on repression and surveillance an anonymous screenwriter, played by co-director Kambuzia Partovi, hides with his dog in a secluded location. Eventually, as other surprising characters appear, the film becomes a complex dance between reality and fabrication. Both filmmakers had their passports confiscated by the Iranian government due to the subversive content of the film.

*Available on Amazon Instant Video

5. "Close-Up" (1990)

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

In one of the greatest examples of reality and fiction blending in almost seamless ways, Abbas Kiarostami's masterwork poses complex questions about identity. When a film buff impersonates his favorite director, who happens to Mohsen Makhmalbaf , a series of events unravel as he plans his next, fake, film. Surreally enough the film is based on a true story and stars the actual people involved. It's all brilliantly meta.

*Available on Blu-ray & DVD from Criterion

6. "The Color of Paradise" (1999)

Dir. Majid Majidi

Though rejected by his father, a young blind boy rejoices in nature’s beauty and tries to understand the meaning of his struggles with the help of a mentor with the same condition. Showcasing Iran’s visually stunning rural landscapes and delicately embedding with philosophical concerns, Majidi’s poetic film delivers wisdom in wondrously unassuming ways.

*Available on DVD from Sony Pictures Classics

7. "The Cow" (1969)

Dir. Dariush Mehrjui

Considered a turning point in the nation’s cinematic history, this black-and-white work revolves around a man’s devotion for his cow and how its disappearance drives him into madness. While seemingly simple in its conception, Mehrjui manages to compellingly highlight the country’s traditional lifestyles.

*Available on DVD from First Run Features

8. "Fireworks Wednesday" (2006)

Dir. Asghar Farhadi

Intimate conflicts in the Iranian middle class are Farhadi’s expertise and this domestic drama, set fittingly during the celebrations prior to the Persian New Year, is no exception. When a soon-to-be bride in need of money for her wedding gets a job cleaning a family’s house, their secrets begin to unravel through their interaction and confrontations.

*Available on DVD from Facets

9. "Gabbeh" (1996)

Dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Taking its name from a type of Persian carpet, this stunningly evocative fable is adorned with mysticism and magical realist elements that shine through its colorful visual palette. Gabbeh, a young nomadic woman who is likely the incarnation of one of these traditional rugs, falls in love with horseman, but her community follows beliefs that hinder her desire.

*Available on DVD from New Yorker Video

10. "The Green Wave" (2010)

Dir. Ali Samadi Ahadi

Told through striking animated sequences, interviews and footage from the protests, this documentary constructs a bold portrait of the 2009 Green Movement following Ahmadinejad’s reelection. The regime's strong grip over its citizens is exposed, but the spirit of the Iranian people demanding change is even stronger.

*Available on DVD from Strand Releasing

11. "Hamoun" (1990)

Dir. Dariush Mehrjui

Underscored by subdued comedy and poignant dream sequences, Mehrjui’s visionary drama centers on the decaying relationship between Hamoun, a businessman with hopes of becoming a writer, and his wife Mahshid, a painter. Insanity takes over him when she decides to divorce him because of his angry outbursts. A series of drastic occurrences ensue.

*Available on DVD from First Run Features

12. "Kandahar" (2001)

Dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Despite being set in Afghanistan, this Iranian production is a powerful achievement that unveils the unjust treatment of women, not only under the Taliban’s control, but also in the entire region. Nafas, an Afghan women living in Canada, decides to return to her homeland to find her depressed sister. Through this dangerous journey she discovers much more about life in the war-torn country than she expected.

*Available on DVD from New Yorker Video

13. "Leila" (1997)

Dir. Dariush Mehrjui

Starting famous Iranian actress Leila Hatami in one her earliest roles as a married woman unable to have children, this conjugal drama explores the role of women within Iranian society. Leila’s husband, Reza (played by “The Past” star Ali Mosaffa), loves her, but his mother wants him to get another wife that can give him a son. The title character is divided between her happiness and what others think is best for her marriage.

*Available on DVD from First Run Features

14. "Manuscripts Don't Burn" (2013)

Dir. Mohammad Rasoulof

Rasoulof’s brave and searing political statement was shot illegally going against the20-year-ban from filmmaking imposed on him by the Iranian government. It denounces the terrifying lack of freedom of expression via the thrilling story a pair of writers risking it all to protect an incendiary manuscript that authorities are eager to destroy.

*Available on Netflix Instant Watch and on DVD from Kino Lorber

15. "Marooned in Iraq" (2002)

Dir. Bahman Ghobadi

Highlighting the rich Kurdish culture, both in Iran and Iraq, Ghobadi’s film is set in the aftermath of the ravaging Gulf War. Marooned is an elderly man who must travel across the mountainous landscape that divides the two countries to find his ex-wife. While portraying the horrors of war in an affecting manner, the film is also a life-affirming work that finds hope in the most surprising places.

*Available on DVD from Wellspring

16. "My Tehran for Sale"

Dir. Granaz Moussavi

Devastating and current, this debut feature from renowned poet turned filmmaker Granaz Moussavi is a hard-hitting critique on the blatant criminalization of artists in Iran. An actress banned from her profession questions whether she should remain in the country or flee. Getting to safety means leaving everything she knows behind. There are no easy options for her.

*Available on DVD from Global Lens

17. "No One Knows About Persian Cats" (2009)

Dir. Bahman Ghobadi

Music as the banner of freedom is the focus of Ghobadi’s film about the underground rock scene in Tehran. Secular music is essentially forbidden, and playing in public is considered a criminal act punished with prison. Crafted between reality and fiction, this quasi-documentary takes a look at a group of young musicians desperate to express themselves through their art.

*Available on DVD from Mpi Home Video

18. "Offside" (2006)

Dir. Jafar Panahi

Attending sporting events is prohibited for women in Iran, but that doesn’t stop many of them who go as far as to dress like men to get in. Panahi’s touching and insightful film takes place during the 2006 World Cup Qualifying match between Iran and Bahrain, and follows several girls who despite being excluded cheer for their team as joyfully as any fan would.

*Available on DVD from Sony Pictures Classics

19. "Persepolis" (2007)

Dir. Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud

Nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, this French-language marvel is based on Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel by the same name. With eye-popping hand-drawn animation, the film revisits the director’s childhood and teenage years in Iran during the events leading up to the Islamic Revolution. It’s a love letter to the bittersweet memories of the Iran Satrapi knew.

*Available on Blu-ray & DVD from Sony Pictures Classics

20. "A Separation" (2011)

Dir. Asghar Farhadi

Dealing with a marriage in turmoil facing the country's peculiar judicial system, Farhadi’s masterpiece is the most acclaimed film in the history of Iranian cinema and earned the country's first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay for its enthralling thriller-like narrative that grips the audience until its unnerving conclusion. A must see!

*Available on Blu-ray & DVD from Sony Pictures Classics

21. "The Song of Sparrows" (2008)

Dir. Majid Majidi

When Karim (played by Berlin’s Silver Bear Winner Reza Naji), an ostrich farm worker, is forced to find a new job in the city to pay for his daughter’s hearing aid, Iran’s rural and urban realms collide. Thanks to the captivating grace that characterizes Majidi’s films, poverty and misfortune are observed here not with pity but with an optimistic and undefeated perspective.

*Available on DVD from E1 Entertainment

22." Taste of Cherry" (1997)

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

This quiet and minimalist meditation on death and the simple joys of its antithesis is the first and only Iranian film to have won the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes. Kiarostami follows a man who has decided to commit suicide and is looking for someone to help him achieve this. However, those he recruits along the way come with their own views on the meaning of our existence and attempt to persuade him to reconsider.

*Available on DVD from Criterion

23. "Ten" (2002)

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

A female cabbie drives through the streets of Tehran picking up an array of characters that via their casual conversations shine a light on the Iranian society’s expectations of women. Constructed of ten individual scenes in which the only constant is the driver, this heavily improvised and peculiarly shot cinematic experiment is a work of fiction embedded with truth in every frame.

*Available on DVD from Zeitgeist Films

24. "This is Not a Film" (2011)

Dir. Mojtaba Mirtahmasb & Jafar Panahi

In an effort to tell his story despite being banned from filmmaking and under house arrest, filmmaker Jafar Panahi takes his frustration and ingeniously turns it into a courageous visual statement. Whether is shooting video with his cell phone or blocking an imaginary scene in his living room, his passion for storytelling is resilient even when confronting such suffocating censorship.

*Available on Netflix Instant Watch and on DVD from Palisades Tartan

25. "A Time for Drunken Horses" (2000)

Dir. Bahman Ghobadi

With the snow-covered Zagros Mountains as backdrop, Ghobadi’s debut feature tells the story of Ayoub, a young Kurdish boy who must provide for his siblings after their mother’s death. Added to the already difficult circumstances, his handicapped brother desperately needs a surgery. This pushes the heroic kid to persevere against all odds in the hostile environment.

*Available on Netflix Instant Watch and on DVD from Kino Lorber

26. "Turtles Can Fly" (2004)

Dir. Bahman Ghobadi

Commanding a cast made almost entirely of children Ghobadi sets his film in an Iraqi Kurdish refugee camp just before the American occupation of 2003. Making a living by clearing the hazardous minefields that surround them, a group of orphan children create a small community to survive. The atrocities of war are ever-present, but like in most of the director’s works, the triumph of the human spirit is at the film's core.

*Available on Amazon Instant Video

27. "The White Balloon" (1995)

Dir. Jafar Panahi

Written by Kiarostami and directed by Panahi this is another film set during the important Persian New Year celebrations. It centers on a little girl trying to convince her parents to buy her a goldfish and who gets in a couple mishaps along the way. With utmost innocence, the seemingly simple premise manages to be a charming delight that showcases family values and ancient virtues with a nice dose of humor. It’s an uplifting gem.

*Sadly the film is not curently availble in any format in the U.S. Hopefully Criterion or another distributor will fix this soon.

28. "The White Meadows" (2009)

Dir. Mohammad Rasoulof

While ethereal, almost otherworldly imagery achieved by cinematographer Ebrahim Ghafori is reason enough to see this film, Rasoulof’s poetic storytelling elevates it to even greater intellectual heights. By using a barren coastal land and its inhabitant as a metaphor for the intolerance and injustice that many of his compatriots -creative people in particular - confront everyday, the filmmaker denounces these evils through melancholic beauty.

*Available on DVD from Global Lens

29. "The Willow Tree" (2005)

Dir. Majid Majidi

A writer, who had been blinded in an accident as a child, regains his vision as a middle aged adult only to be challenged by a world that has become foreign to him. At first, his miraculous new situation appears to be an answer to a prayer, but Majidi soon shows us how vision can become a curse in this spiritual drama about fate and regret. Exquisitely shot and sporting visceral performances, the film is both heart-rending and though provoking.

*Available on DVD from New Yorker Films

30. "The Wind Will Carry Us" (1999)

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

Taking the audience on a trip to an untainted region of Iran where tradition hasn’t yet been disrupted by modernity, the acclaimed director crafted another unforgettable experience. Sublimely executed, the film joins four journalists pretending to be engineers as they document the funerary rituals of the local Kurdish people. More than learning about them as researchers, their interactions force them to engage on a much more human level.

*Availble on Blu-ray and DVD from Cohen Media Group
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

Majid Majidi seeks to shoot Prophet film in Rajasthan

Majid Majidi seeks to shoot Prophet film in Rajasthan
Majid Majidi

Noted Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi wants to shoot a film on Prophet Mohammad in Rajasthan and has sought permission from the Information and Broadcast Ministry, a Times of India report stated.

The film maker has reportedly sought permission to shoot at the Mansagar Lake in Jaipur, the Mehrangarh Fort and its nearby areas in Jodhpur.

“The film is on a sensitive subject, and we want to avoid any untoward incidents. The ministry is considering all pros and cons, but might not give a go-ahead finally. However, there will have to be consultations with the Home and External Affairs ministries, and a final call can be taken only after that,” Toi quoted an I&B Ministry official.

Known for films like Children of Heaven, Rain and The Song Of Sparrows, Majidi has claimed his venture to be different from the earlier films on the Prophet. His focus is on
See full article at DearCinema.com »

DVD Review: The Song of Sparrows

DVD Review: The Song of Sparrows
The Song of Sparrows

That Majid Majidi is a master does not need retelling. Ample evidence of that lies in Baran, Children of Heaven and Colours of Paradise. And to a great extent in The Song of Sparrows.

This is a film that has everything that Majidi is known for –wonderful actors, including a livewire band of child actors, panoramic cinematography (Tooraj Mansouri) which like in all Majidi films captures Iran’s vast openness at its most beautiful and contrasts it with the claustrophobia of the urban landscape, a fine mix of humour and melancholy, and above all, a deep humanist thought that gets life through a story of multiple meanings but told in an utterly simple manner.

This is a film in which Majidi raises a moral debate on how – and not whether - capitalism corrupts human values. Some might find Majidi’s style a bit to sentiment driven,
See full article at DearCinema.com »

[DVD Review] The Song of Sparrows

  • JustPressPlay
Award winner at the Berlin International Film Festival and selected to represent Iran in the race for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes, The Song of Sparrows lives up to its subtle praise by depicting a beautiful portrait of an Iranian pastoral town. This English subtitled film begins as Karim, head of the household, loses an ostrich on the farm he works. This consequently costs him his job and dignity as he chases the fast bird and tries desperately to attract it by dressing up in a silly costume. This silently comedic film immediately captured my attention within the first ten minutes due to the cinematography of Tooraj Mansouri, leading me to watch the remainder if not for simply the entertainment but for the sheer beauty of the scenery.

Karim, unemployed, broke and unable to buy his daughter a new hearing aid, heads into the town of Tehran on
See full article at JustPressPlay »

The Song of Sparrows

The Song of Sparrows
Competition

BERLIN -- Stepping back from the bright colors and sentimentality of his signature films such as The Children of Heaven and Baran, veteran helmer Majid Majidi reverts to a plain country setting in The Song of Sparrows, a metaphor-driven tale of moral decline and redemption. The story, spiked with gentle humor, moves smoothly through the standard tropes of Iranian Art House cinema. The film's market strength can be gauged accordingly.

After the intellectualized sidestep of Weeping Willow, about a blind man who regains his sight and loses his soul, Majidi wisely heads back to stories about simpler folk with simpler problems that audiences can identify with. Here, the hero is the gruff, craggy-faced Karim (Reza Naji), a loving husband and father of three who is fired from his job on an ostrich farm when one of the birds scenically runs off into the hills.

There is little outright talk of God in this seventh film by the religious Majidi, yet everything seems to happen right on schedule to test Karim's faith. While he's on an errand in the city, a harried businessman jumps on his motorcycle, and Karim embarks on a new career as a taxi driver. The money is good but, as we know, the root of all evil, and as Karim's nest egg grows he starts to become contaminated by the distracted, dishonest city folk.

Observing the rich middle class and their homes that have everything, he is overcome with a burning desire to accumulate. What he brings home on his bike is literally junk, however, piled in the front yard like a giant trash heap. Unwilling to give away even the most useless items, he flies into a rage when he learns his wife has made a present of an Old Blue door, which he then carries home on his back across fields in pretty shots reminiscent of Samira Makhmalbaf's Blackboards.

The turning point will arrive when Karim's world of useless material objects collapses on top of him.

In the film's most original scenes, Majidi ably demonstrates how even innocent children can turn into rabid capitalists, ready to smash everything around them to protect their investment. The film's running subplot involves Karim's little son, Hossein, and the dream he shares with his friends to stock a well with fish and become a millionaire when they multiply. When the fish are accidentally lost, the boys go wild with grief and frustration until the newly sage Karim reminds them that "the world is a dream and a lie," heralding a return to joy and sanity for all.

Low-key, realistic performances from a mostly nonpro cast keep the story running smoothly. His face visibly stressed-out and hardened from loneliness as he detaches himself from family and friends, Naji gives the film a strong center.

Although toned down from the strong hues of the director's earlier films, the cinematography by Tooraj Mansouri is always striking and elegant.

THE SONG OF SPARROWS

Majidi Production Co.

Credits:

Director-producer: Majid Majidi

Screenwriter: Majid Majidi, Mehran Kashani

Executive producer: Javad Norouzbeigi

Director of photography: Tooraj Mansouri

Production/costume designer: Asghar Nezhad-Imani

Music: Hossein Alizadeh

Editor: Hassan Hassandoost

Cast:

Reza Naji

Maryam Akbari

Kamran Dehghan

Hamed Aghazi

Shabnam Akhlaghi

Neshat Nazari

Running time -- 96 minutes

No MPAA rating

See also

Showtimes | External Sites