Forever Under Construction

9 – 11

Posted in Afghanistan, Movie by homeyra on September 11, 2009

11 September the movie
11 mn 9 sec by Samira Makhmalbaf

In an Afghan refugee camp close to Iran – Afghanistan border:
The whole community is busy making sun-dried adobes to build a shelter in anticipation of the American attack.
The school teacher seems to be the only one to realize the uselessness of all these activities.
She explains the 9-11 attacks on WTC to kids who don’t even know what a tower building is.
With an improvised clock she makes them hold a minute of silence for the 9-11 victims.

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Persepolis & The Colbert Report

Posted in Movie by homeyra on February 22, 2008

Here is Marjane Satrapi, the author of Persepolis on the Colbert Report (after my unsuccessful attempts to embed the clip!). Persepolis seems to have a lot of media coverage and very good reviews.

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You can see the trailer, the making of the film and images on Persepolis website

Relevant links:
An interview with Satrapi, New York Magazine
Another interview, PBS, Travis Smiley
Picasso would like Persepolis, by Mehr “Jay” Shahidi, links via Bijan
Aref Adib‘s Persepolis look alike, scroll down

Update: 08/03/02 A delightful post by Pedestrian: Persepolis

Misc.links

Posted in Art, Iran, Movie, Music, News, World by homeyra on September 1, 2007

Offside

Posted in Football, Iran, Movie, Society by homeyra on May 11, 2007

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by Jafar Panahi, released in 2006
See trailer at Sony Pictures Classic or here
About the movie, cast and crew

I saw this movie recently, it will give you an idea of some of the “excitements” we deal with 🙂

What does a girl have to do to get into a soccer stadium and cheer for her team? … Given that women aren’t allowed inside the stadium, a disparate group of daring young girl demonstrate resourcefulness: they dress as men, even officers – and enter the stadium.

Some of these girls are caught and taken to a holding area in the custody of a group of young soldiers who would rather be watching the game themselves.

The girls are a mixed bunch, from timid to tomboy, who find camaraderie in their situation. The dynamics between the young women and the soldiers shift during the course of the match, as a mutual passion for soccer mellows hostilities and they are united by their obsessive desire for Iran to win.

golnaz_farmani6.jpgA fearless girl smokes and tries to bully the provincial soldier, who all he cares about is finishing up his stint in the army so that he can go home and take care of his family’s cattle. Another soldier gives the girls a running commentary of the game goings-on. One of the girls insists on using the bathroom, which turns into a comedy: there are no women’s bathrooms in the stadium. The soldiers and their prisoners are close in age, the girls’ crimes are harmless. They have a hard time maintaining their adversarial roles.

As the game nears it’s end, the girls are rounded up in a van to be transported to jail. The soldier in charge turns on the radio so the girls hear the final moments of the game. Iran wins the qualifying match, the streets overflow with celebrants. Social realities are put aside in the temporary high of a sports victory and communal jubilation.

In a mixture of humor, outrage, and patriotism, Panahi reveals the inner lives of the characters and the contradictions of the present day Iranian society: all that bounds together despite all the absurdities to live with: a human mess which Panahi obviously loves.

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Panahi’s words:

The film is constructed like a documentary … I have inserted fictional characters… The places are real, the event is real … I purposefully chose not to use professional actors… the soldier I found in Tabriz … the girls … were mainly university students … The dialogues were written in advance. But we’d only give them to the actors right before each scene was shot… “You’re supposed to say this. Now go do whatever you want with it.” … they went along and really left themselves open, and they let us work with them the way that we wanted…

I take a relatively simple subject and try to develop all the issues surrounding it, everything in general which relates to this one simple subject… ends up representing a greater problem on a larger scale in society

… the barrier between what is permitted and forbidden isn’t always very clear… those who are there to enforce the laws have their own personal interpretations … people will always try to do what they want anyway…

… Our women here, in the film, they’ve entered a forbidden space before the law has given them permission to do so. They don’t have that permission yet, but they’ve gone ahead and entered the territory anyway

… Women are these bold beings who know their own way… They have the courage to break these rules, all the while knowing they’re going to have to go back to where they started, knowing that perhaps nothing will change. But all their efforts are focused on action. It doesn’t matter that they might have to go back to zero. They’re willing to start all over again …

I live in Iran and make films in Iran. All my films are constructed around the notion of restriction, limitation, confinement and boundaries… My films draw on reality and that I don’t add anything to reality… the ending isn’t really up to me. It’s up to society…

jafar_panahi_1.jpgFirst trip outside Iran: As soon as I stepped out of Iran … the constant comparison began. That is, I realized there’s nothing we lack … We have all the resources right here, natural and economic. We have everything. Why have we come to be like this? What happened to us? Why aren’t we using our resources?… This land could be a paradise. Why haven’t we done all we can for our country? I started to feel really upset.
However, every time I went abroad, I only had one wish, and that was to return home. … these trips do have one great benefit: When you just stay in Iran, what happens — and it happens gradually — is that you start to accept the way things are. You’re forced to accept that this is life and that where you are is the center of the world … I can’t live anywhere other than in Iran…

Credits:
Jafar Panahi on Offside, Payvand
Interview with Jafar Panahi, LA Weekly
Interview with Jafar Panahi, Open Democracy
More about Panahi’s movies, Vertigo Magazine
Offside trap, the Global Game
The women in Offside, Washington City Paper
Offside, the IFC blog

Update, another review: The Game of Rules, June 27, 2007

Kinsey

Posted in Movie, Society by homeyra on April 21, 2007

Today I saw Kinsey: Let’s talk about sex, written and directed by Bill Condon with Liam Neeson, 2004.
In short it is the biography of Alfred Kinsey, an American biologist and professor who in 1947 founded the institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University. “… he was first, last, and always a scientist … Any sort of scientific approach to the problems of sex is difficult because the field is so deeply overlaid with such things as moral precept, taboo, individual and group training, and long established behavior patterns. Some of these may be good in themselves, but they are no help to the scientific and empirical method of getting at the truth. Dr. Kinsey cut through this overlay with detachment and precision …” [2]

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According to the movie Kinsey’s two publications Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948 and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, 1953 are received in a very different way. The first book was a bestseller, but the second attracted criticism. It is interesting to realize that not that long ago, a scientific report about anyone’s “mother and sister sexuality” was seen as such an abomination. Kinsey lost his grant and had to endure all sort of ad hominem fallacies: The demonizing campaigns accused Kinsey and his staff of sexually abusing children, his supporters were portrayed as dissolute libertines and his work as morally corrupting.

It seems to me that this movie had many parallels with much of what we see today: From global warming to terrorism and religion, it is so difficult to see a scientific and neutral approach emerge in the middle of all the mis-dis-information.


180px-kinseytime.jpgSee also: Alfred kinsey, How it is and how it could be, how it was and of course how it should be …by Mick Farren

“[Kinsey] equated ignorance with pain and the absence of joy.”

Happy Easter

Posted in Art, Cinema, Movie by homeyra on April 8, 2007

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Andrei Rublev
Andrei Rublev by Tarkovsky
Tarkovsky by Curt

Movies

Posted in Cinema, Movie by homeyra on April 8, 2007

I like movies. I used to be a real cinephile. Both Paris and Montreal offered a lot: In Paris, beside the latest movies, plenty of smaller movie theaters have retrospectives and movies from all around the world – twelve month a year, and Montreal’s great annual festival made up for whatever lacked during the year.

Now I buy or borrow CD’s. The choice is not as extended as I would have liked, but it’s ok. I can’t spend more than five minute in front of a movie I don’t like but I enjoy watching a good movie over and over again.

Here are what I saw recently, worthy of writing about:

shine.jpgShine, perhaps … for the fifth time! I usually like music related movies as well as true stories. David Helfgott‘s incredible destiny and the great cast deserve certainly to be seen at least … one more time 🙂

Syriana: I believe a realistic view of some aspects of the Middle-East: The oil story and the “whatever it takes” crowd. I like Matt Damon.

The Inconvenient Truth: No comments. In fact many thoughts, specially after the latest news from this UN thing. Will, for a change, this Mr. UN make himself useful to the humankind?

The Kid, with Bruce Willis, for a second time. Cute movie. Lily Tomlin makes me laugh even if she doesn’t utter a word.

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White, by Kieslowski – the second part of the trilogy Blue, White and Red. I haven’t seen the rest yet. I liked Zamachowski, the main actor. A strange love story with a Polish society background … Another “shuffled” country. If only those in possession of the “truth” monopole, would leave the people alone!

Cyrus by Katy

Posted in Cyrus The Great, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Movie by homeyra on November 15, 2006

In the previous post I wrote about the making of “In search of Cyrus the Great” by Spenta Productions, and the adventures of Cyrus Kar, the Iranian born American film maker, who has set out to make this epic about the Persian Emperor whose Manifest of Human Rights inspired people and governments for centuries.

About Kar’s misadventures while filming on location in Iraq, his cousin, Katy, has been kind enough to write the following:

“Thank you for posting and bringing attention to this story. Cyrus is my cousin, so I know his story of being captured in Iraq very well. He and his camera man, Farshid Faraji (award wining Iranian camera man) got into a taxi cab. At a nearby checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraqi police searched the cab and they found washing machine timers in the trunk, which can be used as IEDs. Though the cab driver did admit that his passengers had nothing to do with the washing machine timers, Cyrus, Farshid along with the cabbie were taken to Abu Gharib where they were treated horribly and feared for their lives. Cyrus and Farshid’s family did not know if they were alive or dead for almost 2 weeks. They were not allowed a phone call home or any kind of due process until my family and the ACLU filed a lawsuit. Cyrus spent most of his 2 months in prison in a closet sized cell in solitary confinement. Because Cyrus was an American citizen (and FYI Navy veteran I might add) he was taken to another facility – Camp Cropper – where high profile detainees are held. Farshid stayed in AbuGharib crammed in a cell with Arab detainees, whom he could not communicate with because he only speaks Persian (not like any of the soldiers cared).
I can’t begin to describe the helplessness of what its like when the government has such unjust control over your family’s fate.

Cyrus was filming footage of ancient Babel (in Iraq) to tell his story about Cyrus the Great. A lot of his still footage was stolen and he did not get to complete his project and continues to raise money to finish this project that means everything to him. I’m just grateful that he’s home and hope he never goes back.”

Update: Cyrus & Rumsfeld
Update 07/1/09 : Interview in Persian Mirror

Cyrus & Cyrus

Posted in Cyrus The Great, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Movie by homeyra on November 14, 2006

Thanks to my very dear friend Farrokh A. for the following link.

Spenta Productions […was founded by Cyrus Kar with one simple mission: to shed light on history’s most pivotal moments… In a time of mounting hostility between East and West, few figures of history offer the unifying effect Cyrus The Great does. A factual film about this eastern conqueror …will give the West a better understanding of Middle-Eastern history… we are committed to reporting history, based on the latest scientific data, devoid of political or demographic bias…]

In order to make this documentary Cyrus Kar travelled to Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkey and finally Iraq.

[…The purpose of this film is two fold. First, it will show the West that Middle Easterners once shared many of the same values we consider “western values” today. Second it will show Middle Easterners that gender equality, religious freedom, and due process are not trappings of western neo-imperialism, but were once celebrated by their own ancestors…]

Here, is a preview of this movie.
But the story of Cyrus Kar, as you may know, had an unexpected twist:

I remember reading “The Iranian born American film director Cyrus Kar was captured by US forces in Iraq.”
This article was published by the time Cyrus was in capture, I can imagine that Mr. Kar’s family and friends had to say whatever they could in order to convince the authorities of his innocence.
Cyrus “had been ashamed of being Iranian. Reading about Cyrus the Great, he had felt a real sense of pride in what he thought was the real Iran – this tolerant, benevolent empire …And he started on this quest.” Mr. Kar is described “as more right-wing than many of his colleagues, saying he believed in everything which is American.”
But I love Mr. Kar’ optimism:
Imagine entering the Mess-opotamia… in 2005 … from Iran … with an American passport with this “born in Iran” thing … accompanied by someone named Farshid Faraji of Middle-Eastern persuasion- the cameraman. I guess the luggage consisted of some out of shape black boxes! Next thing you learn is that Cyrus “was alleged to have been smuggling washing machine timers for use in improvised explosive devices in a taxi he was riding in to Baghdad”

The saga continues with …”Do you actually have lawyers here?” Mr. Kar inquired. “No,” he quoted the agent as explaining. “The last guy who requested one is still waiting two years later, in Afghanistan.” NYT

I don’t know what happened to the taxi driver, but Cyrus and Farshid after having visited, among other places, Abou Ghraib got out of all that Mess… after 55 days of detention.

The First Charter Of Human Rights: Written By The Persian Emperor
O’Reilly wrongly accused Cyrus Kar of possessing bomb timers, July 2005
Answers.com: Cyrus Kar
American Detained in Iraq Released, ACLU, July 2005

Update: Cyrus & Rumsfeld
Update 07/1/09 : Interview in Persian Mirror