In Bani Koshnoudi’s ‘Fireflies’ (Luciernagas) Arash Marandi plays Ramin, who is from Iran. He somehow ends up in the port town of Veracruz, Mexico after stowing away in a ship (We find out later he has exiled from Iranian jail) In the beginning scenes, we see him negotiating to try to get on another ship, and he says he wants to go to Greece or Turkey. We later find out he is gay, and ha a boyfriend from home he talks to on video. His life is in some kind of limbo- he is staying at a hotel, and is working odd jobs. The film is more slice of life than narrative, as we see his day to day existence, navigating a foreign country and trying to get by as he learns the language and customs. The film could be slow-moving, and shows its indie leanings, but I gave it a little patience and found it rewarding. I was able to see a lot of the hurdles he is facing, and will be facing (we never get a resolution on his plight) and I was glad to see a film about a gay man looking for validation in different facets of relationships.
I am not going to pretend that I got all there is to get out of ‘3 Faces.’ This film by Iranian Director Jafar Panahi is richly layered, and it story is layered as well, about three generations of Iranian actresses. It starts with a cell phone video of a young girl who may or may not have killed herself, and what happens next is a road movie of sorts, but really it’s not. It’s a commentary on Iranian culture, and I wish I was more educated about their issues – people speaking Turkish vs Persian, for example – and then I would have appreciated the film more.
‘The Salesman,’ directed by Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi, won the Best Foreign Language film at this year’s Academy Awards, and it caused a controversy because Farhadi sent a message when he won that he did not attend the awards ceremony in solidarity with his countrymen whose country was one of the ones banned by the Trump Administration.
This is one of the most stressful films I have seen in a long time, and I mean that in the best way. It’s akin to a modern-day Hitchcockian thriller, set in modern day Tehran. It tells of a married couple who moves into a new apartment. Then a sexual assault happens to the wife, Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) and how that affects their relationship. Her husband, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) takes matters into his own hands, doing a DIY investigation of what happened to his wife. By and by, the couple are a husband and wife acting team starring in a stage production of ‘Death Of A Salesman,’ playing Willy and Linda Loman.
The film can be pretty hard to watch, especially the latter part. It also seems a little stage-y, the conflict heightened by enclosed spaces. The acting here is magnificent, as you get to see Alidoosti’s Rana change from someone who felt assaulted, violated, and frustrated then seeing her react to how her husband take revenge for it. And it seems that for Emad, his dignity and ego is more important than anything else. The ‘revelation’ at the end is a double-edged sword – you are mad at the perpetrator but couldn’t help but feel sorry for him at the same time. As I said earlier, I felt the tension between thee characters so vividly I thought I would need anxiety battling pills. This film certainly deserves the awards it won, and though it took me forever to see it, I am very happy to experience this film.