A film in several episodes with Bijan Daneshmand and Mania Akbari, exposing some of the issues of men and women within the confines of traditionand family lifein Iran. Each episode is ... See full summary »
A film in several episodes with Bijan Daneshmand and Mania Akbari, exposing some of the issues of men and women within the confines of traditionand family lifein Iran. Each episode is devoted to various life situations and displays a different form of male/female interaction. The placing of the actors in a moving vehicle or against a moving back drop signifies the movement of life despite all the obstacles in its way. The film deals with the roots of dependencies, limitations, power struggles and conflict that are the familiar stuff of life of couples in the Middle East. Written by
Setareh Moayed Sabeti
Directed by Mania Akbari, dedicated to Abbas Kiarostami
Starring Mania Akbari, Bijan Daneshmand
Mania Akbari, best known as the actress in Abbas Kiarostami's "Ten" wrote, directed and starred in this film which is a series of seven conversations between a man and a woman. In each section Bijan Daneshmand plays the part of the man, he also produced the film.
Each of the conversations deals with a different topic that raises differences between men and women, 1 or 2 are issues which are more prominent within a Muslim or other strict religious society but the majority are universal.
The first section caused the film to be banned in Iran, a woman's virginity is forcibly taken by her fiancé, why? because in his words "I had to be sure" that she was a virgin. Immediately you are thrown into a society where the majority of women are treated as second class citizens, checked to ensure their virginity is intact before marriage because the loss of it is a source of deep family shame. The woman worries how she will explain the bloody stain to her family while the man appears pretty blasé about the whole incident.
Each section picks up a different issue - petty jealousy and attention seeking, abortion and the importance of having a son to carry on the family line, infidelity, what it would be like to be the opposite sex and even lesbianism. The conversations are natural and frank, you feel as though you are eavesdropping on the couples. Apart from one of the sections, the conversations all occur in moving vehicles representing the journeys couples embark on together through life.
The chapters are well filmed and special note must be made on the third part which was filmed in busy traffic in Tehran, the couple start of on a motorbike with a young child, because they keep arguing the wife and child disembark from the bike and get a lift from a passing car, the husband on his bike forces the car to pull over, the wife and child exit and after another argument they all ride off on the bike again. Doesn't sound too impressive till you realise it was all done in a single take, no cutting or editing and in real traffic, very skilled film making.
As already noted, a lot of these issues are universal but probably more emphasised because of the strict religious background, it is common around the world that a man who puts it about is a stud and is held in esteem by his peers while a woman who does the same is a tart or slut, not only in the eyes of men but of other women as well, something isn't quite right with that ideology.
As far as the title goes, I had assumed before seeing the film that the "20 Fingers" referred to the couples, 2 hands each, 20 fingers between them. During the film we're told through one of the conversations that it refers to a remark the woman's Grandmother had made along the lines of "The 20 fingers represented the number of men a woman could sleep with and still be regarded as a woman, any more than 20 and she would be regarded as a prostitute." I was taken aback but this remark is probably metaphorical.
This is very brave film-making and hopefully we will see more from Mania Akbari, Recommended viewing.
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