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At the height of international tension between America and Iran, Kevin Sheppard, a charismatic African-American basketball player accepts an offer to play professional basketball in Iran. What begins as a desire to 'explore the unknown' ends in an emotional roller-coaster as he forms an unlikely alliance with three young Iranian women against the backdrop of revolutionary social upheaval in Iran. Written by
Simple and sweet reiteration of what our DNA tells us
I think basketball is a beautiful and yet complicated game. Iran, at least to my western eyes, is an even more beautiful and infinitely more complicated country. This film is a very simple and sweet glimpse and people who cross over the borders surrounding basketball and Iran.
Just as Kevin Sheppard is not a monumental spokesman for all of the United States, the three sisters cannot capture the thousands of years of Iran/Persian in the past, nor the millions of people living there today.
But the human interest stories in this film are what draw us in on a personal level, Obama's inauguration and the election of Ahmadinejad over Moussavi take place while Kevin joins the Shiraz team in this film. I'm not sure how many "critics" here had they been filmed during those two events would have eloquently captured the moment. Intead I found the dinner when Kevin goes to the house of the Father of the three sisters to be more captivating.
That man, who says nothing on camera during the film, to me was the most fascinating character. Raising three strong women, balancing his belief in them and his faith in Islam, what a story must lie beneath the few moments we spend with them all. Kevin's gesture to politely pass on the head of the table setting at the dinner table was a nice moment of individual ambassador work. But even that scene is tinged with some sadness and misunderstanding as the Mother recaps her surprise that her guests did not stay for hours of fruit, nuts and conversation after the meal.
This film felt like meeting some people in fortuitous circumstances, maybe on a vacation retreat, or in the US at jury duty, where you get a glimpse of meaningful private moments in a mostly public setting. I think I'll wonder about the people on this film here, as I would for such "strangers" I encounter who temporarily break past the estrangement.
Two thoughts based on other comments I've read here. One, the sister Elaheh I don't think had a crush on Kevin so much as she did on the camera. Like many a good actress, her desired vocation, she knew the most important leading man for her is the lens. That being said, the lead-in to a Monday meeting with a potential suitor is set up and then dispatched with nary a follow-up, likely her wishful beau may have been rightfully jealous of the camera wanting to hold his intended in its gaze even while he did the same. Who knows? Also I've seen questions about Zoran, the seven footer from Serbia who does seem a veritable gentle giant. Effectively a migrant worker, away from his own family and young son, apparently in his 30's and it is alluded to his having been through the worst of the war in his homeland. It's almost as if he knows that the story of Kevin, and the sisters and their countries would not fit into this film, much less his own.
The simple truth of this film, that people interacting with each other in person, even with a disparity of background and a possible lack of communication somehow figure out their overwhelming similarities.
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