Archiv der Kategorie: Jafar Panahi

Festival: Around the World in 14 Films 2018 (part 1)

Short reviews of selected films from this year’s festival

By Sascha Krieger

Se rokh / Three Faces (Iran / Director: Jafar Panahi) – Cannes Film Festival

In 2010, Jafar Panahi was banned from making films for 20 years. Three Faces is the fourth film he’s made since. This time, after being caught in a taxi or his own house, he has a little more room: he haunts his home region, the villages his family came from, a safer place for him than Tehran. Not a freer one though, as his film shows. The beginning is stark: a horizontal cell phone video shot by a girl apparently committing suicide. „This is not a film“, his first post-ban effort was called, „we’re not making a film“, Panahi keeps saying during this one – the beginning makes this statement, too, loud and clear. There is a documentary feel to this film, a sense of uncertainty representative of Panahi’s situation, of the female protagonists of the film – who all bear their real names – and the society depicted. It is a patriarchal one, full of often absurd rules such as the elaborate honking ritual to ensure safe passage on a narrow mountain road when it would be so much easier to just make it wider. Panahi depicts such episodes with glee, with a sly humour and a lightness of touch that astonishes.

Image: © Jafar Panahi Film Production

Weiterlesen

Advertisements

Berlinale 2015: Day 11 and Wrap-up

By Sascha Krieger

Eleven days have a rather annoying quality: they pass by rather quickly. Just now, it seems, you discussed the prospects of this year’s Berlinale, what kind of festival it would be, how high its quality – and already, it is time again to glance back at it as you enter the long, 12-month wait for its next edition. So, let’s do this in the fast, short, fleeting way the festival deserves. To put it shortly: it turned out to be a good one feature the strongest Competition in years and a fine and extremely diverse slate of entries in the other section. Strong women were supposed to be a major feature of the festival and they were – though their more impressive appearances were in the smaller, ordinary ones rather than the large heroine’s tales such as Isabel Coixet’s opening film or Werner Herzog’s artistic disaster Queen of the Desert, easily the Berlinale’s worst film this year. Oh yes, the big names: they tended to disappoint, such as Herzog, Terrence Malick, Wim Wenders (though this reviewer can only gather from hear-say). The Berlinale, however, is a festival of discoveries and this edition was no exception. A large number of first-time directors even in Competition impressed, some of the greatest and most insightful films came from countries such as Guatemala, Chile, Vietnam or Romania. The German film had a mixed year but at least Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria proved that German filmmakers occasionally dare experiment.

Winner of the Golden Bear: Taxi (© Berlinale)

Winner of the Golden Bear: Taxi (© Berlinale)

Weiterlesen

Berlinale 2015: Day 2

By Sascha Krieger

Queen of the Desert (Competition / United States / Director: Werner Herzog)

No doubt, Werner Herzog has an eye for the picturesque: A caravan in a desert sandstorm, steam rising from a lake in a wintery English country estate, a brightly burning lamp framed by two glowing faces. Queen of the Desert is full of such image: elegant, warmly lit, polished, perfectly composed, immaculate. And lifeless. The film’s beauty is that of postcards, glamour magazine photographs, cheaper by the dozen paperback romances. The story told is that of Gertrude Bell, an English traveler exploring the Arab desert and its inhabitants in the early 20th century who would go on to play a political role in the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Herzog turns her tale into an embarassingly sentimental story of a woman searching for love (a man’s, of course), spoken throughout in monotonous soft-voiced tone that drips from pretending to be meaningful, yet utters only the most worn out of clichés. Even the likes of Rosamunde Pilcher would hardly dare to write a love story so bland, so frightfully cheesy as this. Nicole Kidman, James Franco and Damien Lewis are among the considerable talent employed and wasted in scenes lay actors with no experience could perform. The embarassingly simplistic music (a bad turn of events is announced by a dark brooding piano in a minor key) is the least of this film’s problems which, at the end of the day, does not possess a single redeeming feature. That Werner Herzog wrote and directed it is the most puzzling thing about it.

Queen of the Desert (© 2013 QOTD Film Investment Ltd. All Rights Reserved)

Queen of the Desert (© 2013 QOTD Film Investment Ltd. All Rights Reserved)

Weiterlesen

Berlinale 2013: Diary Day 6

By Sascha Krieger

Pardé (Competition / Iran / Directors: Jafar Panahi, Kamboziya Partovi)

This is a film that shouldn’t exist. Two years ago,  Jafar Panahi, who won a Silver Bear in 2006 for Offside and a Golden Lion in Venice for The Circle, was barred from making films for twenty years by an Iranian court. The fact that Pardé was made and is now premiering at the Berlinale is a little miracle of perseverance. It opens with a long single shot: We look through bars (an iron shutter) towards the sea. In the distance a car stops, a man get out and slowly walks towards where we are looking from. A simple, powerful image, a metaphor on today’s Iran which we encounter as a closed, claustrophobic society in which paranoia is a means to survival. Once inside the man shuts all curtains and hangs up heavy black drapes. No light is to get in and, more importantly, out. The man is clearly on the run. His crime: he owns a dog, an unclean animal by Islamic standards. Later he will be joined by a young woman who had celebrated with friends on the beach for which the police hunts her. fear, distrust, the urge to be alone dominate their dealings with each other. Both seem on the same side but how can one be sure. Panahi and his co-director Kamboziya Partovi concentrate this interior play into a dense parable of people in a stifling world. The girl urges the man to get out, rips down the  curtains, there is no way one can forever be imprisoned. Then the film changes, suddenly Panahi himself appears, first as a ghost almost, the taking control. The man and the woman, we understand, are characters in a film Panahi cannot make. They crave for his attention, they want to stay alive, they want him to give them a voice. A complex game ensues that is political, philosophical, human. For in all this repressive atmosphere, the desire for life, freedom, expression never dies. Panahi and Pardovi show this in long, factual, decidedly non-poetical images which is precisely why the space of the imagination is so large in this film. Somethings are heard but not seen, at times all goes black, yet light always returns. In the end we return to the opening shot. But now there are people, a kite, a dog running free. „You’ll work again“, an old neighbor tells Panahi at one point. Pardé is a moving, deeply human, poetic masterpiece which stubbornly defends its belief in the power of the human will.

Weiterlesen

Advertisements