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Mamo, an old and legendary Kurdish musician living in Iran, plans to give one final concert in Iraqi Kurdistan. After seven months of trying to get a permit and rounding up his ten sons, he sets out for the long and troublesome journey in a derelict bus, denying a recurring vision of his own death at half moon. Halfway the party halts at a small village to pick up female singer Hesho, which will only add to the difficulty of the undertaking, as it is forbidden for Iranian women to sing in public, let alone in the company of men. But Mamo is determined to carry through, if not for the gullible antics of the bus driver. Written by
Swie Tio <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Half Moon is a road movie with a difference. An elderly man Moma (portrayed with great range and nuance by Ismail Ghaffari), a celebrity singer in his native Iraqi Kurdistan, sets out by bus from Iran with an entourage of his musician sons to his homeland to perform in a large public concert. With seven months of rehearsals, official permits and visas carefully arranged, nothing could go wrong, right? Well, this is border country between bitter enemies Iran, Iraq and the highly marginalised Kurds who are basically a dispossessed people without a country and held in contempt by both countries as well as Turkey. This film illustrates what can go wrong.
While beautifully filmed in some beautifully stark landscapes, the real richness of Half Moon - like most Iranian films screened here - is in the simplicity of the story and the attention to detail to the struggles of seemingly mundane activities. The cultural aspects are especially fascinating. The authority of Moma as the family patriarch is evident; his middle aged sons all hold him in high esteem and cower before him. Not unexpectedly,as Iran does not allow women to sing in public, there are specific issues with involving a woman in such a cultural endeavour.
The family and social dynamics depicted breathe life into this little gem of a film. Music is a universal language that binds people, so when contempt is shown by the Iranian border guards, it has a powerful effect on the audience. My in-laws are similarly musicians of a dispossessed people (Pontians, Greek orthodox who once lived in Turkey), so I could relate well to the scenario in the film.
It was interesting to see the advancement of technologies such as cell phones and wireless internet laptops creeping into these otherwise isolated communities. The film is full of beautifully understated performances and naturalistic humour and drama. I highly recommend it, and like most Iranian films I have seen, is something I would take my six year old son to see (were it to get a theatrical release).
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