Somewhere in Iran, a construction site buzzes with the activity of mostly illegal (unregistered) Afghan refugees under the eye of building manager Memar (Mohammad Amir Naji). Teenager Lateef (Hossein Abedini) is resntful of them, especially when the young son of an injured worker, Rahmat (Zahra Bahrami) takes his caretakerís job serving tea and meals to the workers. The slender and weak Rahmat is an easy target of resentment in the poverty stricken team, until Lateef discovers Rahmatís secret: heís a girl. The deception is one of lifeís necessities in a quest for survival amidst the million dispalced Afghan refugees in Iran. Lateefís resentment turns to infatuation, even as they two are separated by the forces of fate.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It was in blissful ignorance of the story that I saw a preview of this film, and I am sorry if you have read the synopsis, because it robs the film of some of its power to reveal itself to you. But there is much more that isnít in the synopsis that will make up for that. Majid Majidi, who made the well received Children of Heaven, creates a wonderful, subtle film that is at once a restrained love story Ė in which the lovers never even kiss Ė and a metaphor for his own society as well as the wider universe.†
Baran is set almost entirely on a suburban construction site in Northern Iran, which is awash with Afghan refugees. Many are illegal workers who survive day by day as labourers. The setting is a surprisingly rich environment for cinematic exploration of human behaviour. It could be seen as Majidiís metaphor for his country, at once busy and conflicted, building yet destroying. It is also a social hothouse, where the resentment of the locals against the foreign workers is portrayed through Lateefís eyes, a volatile and mischievous teenager.†
But his simplistic antagonism is turned on its head when his expectations are up-ended by the young boy/girl. He not only reverses his attitude, he takes severe risks on her behalf. Majidi delivers this story through subtleties, drawing us into the specific world he portrays in one tiny part of Iran. Filled with honest performances and exceptional detail, Baran is a gentle film with dramatic punch, a haunting ode to humanity.
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CAST: Hossein Abedini, Mohammad Amir Naji, Zahra Bahrami, Abbas Rahimi, Gholam Ali Bakhshi, Jafar Tawakoli, Hossein Mahjoub,
PRODUCER: Majid Majidi, Fouad Nahas
DIRECTOR: Majid Majidi
SCRIPT: Majid Majidi
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mohammad Davudi
EDITOR: Hassan Hassandoost
MUSIC: Ahmad Pezhman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Behzad Kazzazi
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne/Sydney: June 26, 2003; other states to follow
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.