Acclaimed director Jafar Panahi’s (The White Balloon; Offside) fourth outing since the Iranian government sentenced him to a 20-year filmmaking ban has Panahi and actress Behnaz Jafari playing themselves in a road movie of sorts.
“Charming Iranian cinema at its purest, and defiantly modern in its liberating message.” – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
It starts when Jafari receives a disturbing video in which a young woman named Marziyeh, distraught over her family’s refusal to allow her to leave home and study acting, hangs herself. Frantic but unsure whether the clip is real or simply a tasteless ploy on Panahi’s part to pitch her a forthcoming screenplay about suicide, the actress abandons her film set with the director; they embark on a journey across Iran to a remote, mountainous village in hopes of locating the girl unharmed. Along the way, they are subject to a number of peculiar encounters that touch on Marziyeh’s plight: Mundane occurrences (a road blocked by an injured bull, a late-night stroll) become lessons in patriarchal masculinity, while the search for her widens to involve another legendary actress who lives in independent solitude at the edge of the village. Yet it all comes together as an enchanting, deceptively simple meditation on freedom in art and life from a director who’s fought hard for his own. (Dir. by Jafar Panahi, 2018, Iran, in Persian with English subtitles, 100 mins., Not Rated). Other festivals: Cannes; Toronto; New York | Tucson Premiere