Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stories On Film From Iran

We sit riveted to our TV screens and computer monitors by the images coming from Iran. We see people putting their lives on the line in the streets, marching into harm's way, rising up against tyranny, fighting on behalf of freedom. Or is something else happening?

The demonstrators have gone into the streets protesting the election that appears to have been stolen from their favored candidate. Yet this candidate comes from the theocracy that rules Iran. He is a founding father of the Islamic revolution that replaced one dictatorship with another. Are his supporters in the streets merely pawns in a power struggle among the clerics who rule Iran?

Perhaps the images lie to us. Certainly the images depict events that are truly happening. But whether those events depict an evident truth or mask a lie is not yet clear. So, we read and watch the news out of Iran and wonder whether what we are seeing is true or a lie.

Fiction is truth masquerading as lies. We read and watch fiction knowing full well we are being told a pack of lies, but we also know that truth lies hidden in those lies. (Here.) Iran is blessed with storytellers who tell truthful lies on film. Here's a sampling, in no particular order of personal preference.

Crimson Gold: A tragedy about the last days of a pizza delivery man in Tehran, doomed by shame and lack of opportunity.

Offside: The misadventures of young women who, motivated by love of country and the game, must disguise themselves as men in order to attend Iran's World Cup Soccer match.

Baran: Another story of disguised gender, but this time a love story, and a story of Afghan refugees surviving in Iran.

The Mirror: It's not uncommon for Iranian movies to have a naturalistic feel to them. This film goes further than most and breaks the Fourth Wall. Midway through the film, the preteen actress playing the young girl making her way home alone through Tehran, suddenly decides she's had enough of acting and storms off. The rest of the movie follows the actress as she continues to make her way home across Tehran, but now the action is unscripted. Or is it?

Secret Ballot: Iran has elections. This comical movie tells the story of a female elections worker and a male soldier collecting ballots from far-flung polling places in a remote rural province

Children of Heaven: A young brother and sister hide the loss of a pair of tennis shoes from their parents. It's a family movie that culminates in a foot race across the city.

Color of Paradise: The saddest but most beautifully filmed story of a father and his blind child. It will haunt your memory for a long time. It still haunts mine, 10 years on.

Marooned In Iraq: One of Iran's naturalistic movies. The plot involves a Kurdish singer from Iran who travels to Iraq in the wake of the first US-Iraq war to find his former wife. Not a musical by any means but there's lots of singing performances by the main character and others he meets along the way.

Ten: Women in Iran struggle to live under the oppression of the Islamic Republic. Their stories are told in conversations during car rides across Tehran.


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Great list. Thanks for sharing. Films are a great way to air out opinions.
Great list.

It’s time to read a great new romantic comedy, entitled Classes Apart.
This is an adult sporting comedy that follows the fortunes of Paul Marriot, the secretary of the Barnstorm Village Sunday soccer team and coach of a school cricket team in Yorkshire, England. The story describes the remarkable camaraderie between the players and supporters of this little club and their desire to achieve success. The team had previously been known more for its antics off the field, rather than their performances on it.

During his time at the club he meets and becomes involved with Emma Potter, who is the sister of James Potter, a major player for their bitter rivals Moortown Inn. Thus, begins an entangled web of romance and conflict. He also begins working at Derry High School, a school with a poor reputation of academic success, where he becomes coach of the school cricket team. Here he develops an amazing relationship with the children and they embark on an epic journey.
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