A HERO – Review by Susan Granger

Set in the Iranian city of Shiraz, the film follows sign painter/calligrapher Rahim (Amir Jadidi), a divorced father imprisoned for debt, who is given a ‘furlough’ of 48 hours to convince his dour creditor, Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh) who runs a copying/printing store in a shopping mall, to drop the charges. The complex narrative explores universal themes of honesty, honor and the price of freedom by showing how half-truths and lies can erode the soul and exposing how insidious judgment by social media is increasingly prevalent.

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A HERO – Review by Diane Carson

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi takes small incidents, elaborates their details, and thereby reveals the destructive fault lines of personal and political situations. As in his brilliant A Separation, winner of the 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, his A Hero takes on an illuminating tour of the tangled complexity of Iranian justice and social media, family and business.

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SUN CHILDREN – Review by Liz Braun

Iranian street urchins struggling to survive are the focus of Iranian master Majid Majidi’s latest film, Sun Children, dedicated to the 152 million forced into child labour in the world. The film centers on an adolescent Tehran street kid named Ali and three of his friends, all of whom work hard — often at petty crime — to help support their families. It’s a heartbreaking saga of poverty and determination.

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CRIMSON GOLD – Review by Diane Carson

An ideal partnership is realized in Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s Crimson Gold, written by his Iranian film mentor and friend, Abbas Kiarostami. Though Iran regularly bans both men’s work and, upon occasion, detains them, Panahi and Kiarostami continue to make astonishing films, this one shrewdly critiquing social inequity through a pizza delivery man’s experiences over two days.

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BALLAD OF A WHITE COW (Berlinale 2021) – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Ballad of a White Cow is an uncomfortable, sad film where hope sits in frequently complicated tension with a sense of inevitability that things are destined to get worse once the truth comes to light. But it is also an unmissable film, a powerful film and an important film that does not flinch – not once – in its exposé of how a great injustice cannot be magically fixed by bureaucrats; rather, its trauma spirals outwards, endlessly and unnecessarily, ruining the lives of all it touches.

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NASRIN – Review by Loren King

This urgent documentary offers an up-close look at Iranian human rights lawyer and activist Nasrin Sotoudeh who for nearly 20 years, at great personal risk, has fought for the rights of women, children, LGBTQ people and political prisoners condemned to death by the Iranian government. For anyone not familiar with this ordinary yet extraordinary figure, Nasrin will be an eye-opening and life-changing experience.

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YALDA, A NIGHT FOR FORGIVENESS – Review by Liz Braun

Maryam has been imprisoned for the murder of her much older husband. Luckily, she has a chance to escape the death penalty by appearing on a reality TV show where she can beg her late husband’s family for forgiveness. This is the surreal setting for filmmaker Massoud Bakhshi’s feminist drama about contemporary Iranian life — the most surreal element being that such a reality TV show actually exists. Whatever passes for forgiveness or compassion here is mostly about money, and when the talk show host says, “There’s divine mercy in forgiveness,” you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 21, 2020: AFRICAN VIOLET

Both poignant and insightful, Mona Zandi Haqiqi’s African Violet is a slice-of-life drama set in a working class neighborhood in Tehran. With strong, naturalistic performances and a vivid sense of place, Haqiqi’s film draws you into its characters’ lives, sharing their triumphs and challenges and creating understanding and building strong feelings of empathy.

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AFRICAN VIOLET – Review by Jennifer Merin

African Violet, a winsome femme-helmed domestic drama Iran that reveals an intimate view of family life from a woman’s perspective. Exquisitely envisioned to convey complex relationships with subtle looks rather than words, the film’s fundamental kindness is revelatory and utterly compelling.

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AFRICAN VIOLET – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The Iranian domestic drama African Violet, directed and co-written Mona Zandi Haghighi, is an elevated soap opera of sorts that revolves around an unusual three-way relationship. At its center is Shokoo (Fatemeh Motamed-Aria), a strong-featured yet still attractive middle-aged woman who is happily wed for a second time to the virile Reza (Saeed Aghakhani).

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