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Khake Sar Beh Mohr (1977)

A young woman in pre-revolution Iran is caught between the traditional values of her small village and her own yearnings for independence and individuality. Her persistent refusal of ... See full summary »


Marva Nabili


Marva Nabili


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Credited cast:
Flora Shabaviz Flora Shabaviz


A young woman in pre-revolution Iran is caught between the traditional values of her small village and her own yearnings for independence and individuality. Her persistent refusal of marriage proposals coupled with her unseemly removal of her hood causes her family to seek the help of an exorcist, convinced she must be possessed by evil spirits. Written by K. Krejci <kkrejci@lib.siu.edu>

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Release Date:

19 August 2017 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Khak-e mohr shode See more »

Filming Locations:

Noo-Asquar, Iran

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User Reviews

Masterful debut feature of quiet feminist anger
11 December 2012 | by OldAle1See all my reviews

The first Iranian feature directed by a woman, though this has never screened (legally) in Iran; it's director left the country, smuggling the film out and finishing up the editing in the USA. I'd love to know more about that story, as the film was made before the revolution and as far as I know isn't any more radical or transgressive than some other works from the period which did get passed. Anyway, it's the story of a young woman struggling to find her own identity and some kind of freedom in a repressive, highly patriarchal ancient village. The village is made of mud and stone and looks like it could be a thousand years old, but it abuts a newer town that has cars, telephones, TV, etc, and the girl dreams of a way into that world - but seemingly has no way out of her life, which will soon include an arranged marriage.

This is just beautifully shot, using as far as I can tell all natural lighting (the indoor and night scenes are very, very dark) and the style and in some ways the content are reminiscent of Chantal Akerman's "Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles" - which had only played commercially in Europe a year before this film was made. It seems hard to imagine that Nabili could have seen Akerman's work, but there is nothing else that comes to mind as a reference. Most of the film is composed of long, static shots, and the young woman's pain and struggle are almost entirely internalized, with rare moments of rapture when she is able to be alone, out in the green grasses and undergrowth by a nearby river. Apart from one remarkable sequence that symbolizes the peak of feeling and despair, the film is entirely in long or medium shots - no closeups. Like Akerman's film, it's "minimalist" in the sense that most of what we learn about the protagonist is going to come out of our own feelings and explorations - what is shown is very simple, on the surface. Near the end, there is finally a sign to others that all is not well, but it seems unlikely that anything will come of it...

A remarkable, poetic and beautiful debut film, this would be even better if a decent copy were available - as it is there is only a 20-year-old VHS that has a rather soft image and is possibly cropped. But still very much worth seeking out for those interested in Iranian or feminist cinema or in the conflict of old and new worlds.

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