During the war between Iran and Iraq, a group of Iranian Kurd musicians set off on an almost impossible mission. They will try to find Hanareh, a singer with a magic voice who crossed the ...
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Mohammad Amir Naji,
Kurdish childhood friends Hussein (37) and Alan (40) direct and produce a film about the genocide of Kurdish people in Iraq, the Anfal campaign in 1988. They learn that, to achieve veracity... See full summary »
The first of four installments in the groundbreaking Heartbeat of the World anthology film series. Comprised of several short films by some of the world's most exciting directors, Words ... See full summary »
During the war between Iran and Iraq, a group of Iranian Kurd musicians set off on an almost impossible mission. They will try to find Hanareh, a singer with a magic voice who crossed the border and may now be in danger in the Iraqi Kurdistan. As in his previous films, this Kurdish director is again focusing on the oppression of his people. Written by
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A picaresque plot tracks us across northern Iraq right after the first Persian Gulf War as Kurds are being hunted down, gassed, arrested, and massacred by Saddam Hussein. We see them in constant flight across a landscape of bombed-out villages and mass graves, their society and lives falling to pieces around them. Grim as that may seem, even knowing that Ghobadi's ulterior motive is to document and publicize the unhappy fate of his people, the Kurds, his movie yet charms us with the humor, resilience, and natural wisdom and dignity of peasant folk, as well as with stunning images of Kurdish life and customs, and raw, wild landscapes, barren and beautiful.
The operatic twisty plot entails a search by a well-known Iranian Kurdish singer Mirza (Shahab Ebrahimi), and his musician sons, Barat (Faegh Mohammadi) and Audeh (Allah-Morad Rashtian), for his ex-wife, Hanareh, also a singer, who fled to Iraq years prior when public performances by women were banned by the Iranian revolution. Their journey takes them from the deserts of Iran to the magnificent snowy mountain peaks of northern Iraq, during which they encounter an assortment of interesting characters, all with memorable faces and stories of their own.
The journey for both viewer and characters is one of transformation and discovery. Although it starts with the manic energy and scrappy comedy of, say, "Black Cat, White Cat," the story's sorrow and tragedy gradually, almost imperceptibly, crescendo as the men approach their goal. Bit by bit they are stripped of both earthly possessions, and social masquerades and props, leaving them exposed for what they are, confronting them with their lives' real purposes and meanings. Barat sees his prejudice against women, the same prejudice which drove Hanareh away, drive away the woman he falls in love with because of her beautiful voice. Audeh (who for the world looks like Gene Shalit), whose sole purpose in life is to produce a male heir no matter how many wives' lives he has to ruin, discovers he can adopt 2 sons from among the hundreds of war orphans, obviating the need for a 12th wife. For his part, the viewer is gradually led deeper and deeper into war-ravaged hell, the human toll of persecution.
Almost all the dialogue is delivered in a uniform monotonous shout. No one hardly ever lowers their voice to a conversational tone or a whisper. Whether this restricted range is due to the fact that Kurds actually speak this way or to amateurish acting, I don't know; but it wears on the nerves, dazes one with its constant din, and robs all dialogue of nuance and impact.
Ghobadi's vision and execution have matured substantially since his last film, "A Time for Drunken Horses." This film is more complex, variegated, and ultimately disturbing than the other, despite having the same overt political agenda.
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