- 1h 40min
Three actresses at different stages of their career. One from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, one popular star of today known throughout the country and a young girl longing to attend a ... Read allThree actresses at different stages of their career. One from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, one popular star of today known throughout the country and a young girl longing to attend a drama conservatory.Three actresses at different stages of their career. One from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, one popular star of today known throughout the country and a young girl longing to attend a drama conservatory.
Prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1980, cinema in Iran was very popular. The country had a mature film-making industry that churned out products ranging from adventure films with virile male characters to important art films from internationally-recognized directors such as Abbas Kiarostami.
After the Ayatollah took over the country, these films were banned. Some artists managed to flee the country while others stayed and became outcasts like the old actress in this movie. Panahi intentionally never shows us her face, a reminder that Iranians are not permitted to view the films that comprise Iranian cinematic heritage. The old actress lives in a very humble house in a remote part of a very remote village, in the same way that Iranian film history exists, but has been tucked away from view by the mullahs, and stuck into a place unfitting its true stature. There is a very interesting scene in which, from a distance, Panahi sees all three actresses dancing and partying in the house. It is as if he is saying he knows there is a lot of great substance in the historic Iranian films, but he himself cannot enjoy it, given his own present circumstance as an Iranian filmmaker whose films are banned in his own country.
The middle-aged actress (played brilliantly by Behnaz Jafari) represents the current state of Iranian cinema, which is to say it is practically nonexistent. In this movie she is a TV actress who stars in cheap soap operas. Early in the film, Panahi describes her as follows: "in her current state she's not much use to anyone, anyway." Ouch.
Perhaps the most interesting of the three faces is that of the young actress, who represents Panahi's assessment of the future of Iranian cinema, which turns out not to be traditional cinema at all. This actress stars in a smart phone-produced video that might or might not be staged. The filmmakers of the future, he seems to be saying, will be unconstrained by whether a work might be categorized as fiction or non-fiction, but instead focused on important sociological themes that move people to act. Indeed, a look at present day Iranian Youtube videos reveals works that deal with social upheaval. One example: a woman wears her hijab too low on the bus and films away as a religious zealot spits in her face. These are the most important films coming out of Iran today.
Beyond its subtext, this film is very rich in terms of presenting for western viewers a look at a part of the world we rarely get to see. Panahi's portrayal of the people of rural Iran along the Turkish border seems very genuine. He presents them as multifaceted and interesting; we get a good dose of the good, the bad and the ugly in these people. The film is worth seeing for that alone.
- Oct 6, 2020