Arous-e atash (2000) written and directed by Khosrow Sinai, was shown in the U.S. with the title "Bride of Fire." The film is set in modern-day Iran, but the contrast between the sophisticated urban culture and the isolated rural culture of that country is incredibly great.
The protagonist is a young woman, portrayed by the lovely Ghazal Sarami, who has just completed medical school. She returns to visit her isolated small village, and is basically trapped--physically and mentally--by the tradition that she must marry her first cousin. If she does so, she will not only enter into a loveless marriage, but she'll be expected to accept the highly restricted role assigned to women.
Her aunt, played brilliantly by Salimeh Rangzan, initially encourages her to accept the inevitable. In the course of the movie, the aunt must reflect on her own life, and decide where her loyalties lie.
This is not a happy film. Apparently, it's based on a true story, and that's even more depressing. Still, it will hold your attention from beginning to end, and it's definitely worth seeking out. We saw this movie at the Rochester High Falls International Film Festival. If you can't find it at a theater, it will work almost as well on a small screen.
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