Every time our annual international film fest hits town, I scan all the offerings, with special attention to Iranian productions. I have seen so many fascinating films from a country that, in recent years, has banned Hollywood and other films foreign to them, and yet their filmmakers, despite having to follow strict guidelines and risking censorship at every turn, produce some of the finest films in world cinema.
This documentary features interviews with several Iranian filmmakers, plus clips from a number of their best films. Among various aspects of Iranian film-making, they talk about how their reflective films differ from the Hollywood action variety, although there is such a role for Iranian film as well. What perhaps is really remarkable is how freely these producer/directors talk in a critical way about the censorship exercised in their country. The clever ways they get around it actually appear to challenge and enhance their creativity (as Duke Ellington once said, in describing how he had to compose his music to fit the talents and limitations of his band members, "It can be good to have limits"). Unusual scenarios between husbands and wives get around the rule that men and women, even when married, can't touch. Children are sometimes used to state in an allegorical or analogous fashion what could not be presented by adult characters. And the role of women is wondrously portrayed in these productions from a country that severely limits women's roles.
This film takes concentration to appreciate, but is every bit worth the effort.
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