Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tribeca 14: Three Docs from Persia

There are lots of films from Iran this year for some reason. Most of them bitch about the evil regime there. Here are three typical ones:

Siah B├ózi (France, Iran) – North American Premiere.

a documentary directed
by Maryam Khakipour

Back in the bad old days of the evil Shah, Tehran had some really good nightlife. Theater on Laleh Zar, the so-called "Street of Joy," as the old theater district was known, had everything from movie theaters to opera and everyone liked vaudeville. When they began filming this documentary, there was just one left on the street, the Nasr, an old vaudeville theater that still kept packing them in in the middle of the afternoon.

But that’s all gone now. The mullahs have decided that since the place needs patching up, a centuries-old theatrical tradition should be thrown out with the trash. The actors, some of them quite old, are without pensions, and one was begging in the street.

This is really a sad film, but what can one do? That’s progress, for ya. I hope the film had an effect in Iran.

Inside Out

45 minutes isn’t exactly a short, in fact it was just about as long as the feature. This is about Iranian transsexuals, not homosexuals.

Homosexuality is a crime in Iran, while transsexuality is considered a disease. The mullahs approve of the need for sex-change surgery, which is something that is a bit unexpected.

We meet three of them, and a junior ayatollah who explains the theological implications of this situation. Rather boring all the same.

President Mir Qanbar

Directed By
Mohammad Shirvani

Mir Qanbar is a 75-year-old joke. A retired beaurcrat, he has been running for office ever since the Iranian Republic was established and keeps on coming in last or next to last.

He goes around on a bike or his crippled friend’s horsecart, and makes a few speeches and hands out leaflets. He’s harmless, so the mullahs don’t generally throw him off the ballot like they do many other, worthier candidates. Still one has to admire the fellow’s gumption. One can’t really be sure if the filmmaker is doing this as a joke or as a real look at the politics of the nation.

This really a waste of time, although it’s nice to see that he’s finally getting his bachelor’s degree at the local community college. A pathetic film about a pathetic guy.

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