might have an Islamist government, but notwithstanding the revolution, average
Iranians have never been generally inclined towards fundamentalist orthodoxy.
This disconnect will deeply confuse a young devout Muslim woman in Canadian-Iranian
filmmaker Parisa Barani’s short Ablution (trailer here), which screens
during the eighteenth Dances With Films, in Hollywood, California.
Enezari’s mother Afsenah makes no secret she was a “mistake,” whereas the pious
twenty-something regards Afsenah’s second marriage as a sin. Neda’s brother
Omid reluctantly serves as a buffer between them. He is also much more modern
in his thinking, but he respects his sister’s religious devotion. Tensions are
already high, with the Iran-Iraq War rudely interrupting everyday life on a
regular basis. Resenting her unhappiness, particularly since she represents the
Islamic Revolutionary ideal better than nearly everyone around her, Enezari
will start to make a series of unfortunate decisions.
should be clearly noted Ablution portrays
the fundamentalist Enezari in profoundly respectful terms. It also finds
considerable value in religious observance. However, it is hard to think the
ruling theocrats would consider the film to be good for business. Rightly or
wrongly, Enezari’s ardent faith is isolating and alienating in practice. The
symbolic interludes inspired by Sufism probably would not sit well with the Shia
powers-that-be either. Although not a primary focus of the film, Barani and her
co-writer-co-stars Melissa Recalde and Amin El Gamal also give viewers a sense
of the intrusive fear and paranoia begot by the state and its feared Basij
plays Enezari with admirable restraint and sensitivity, but it is Amin El Gamal
who probably earns the “breakout” honors as the conflicted Omid Enezari. More
than just a nice guy (always a tricky role to play) or an audience entry point,
he really embodies the heart of the film’s religious and social anxieties.
Barani’s short offers an intimate look inside a
middle class Iranian home, challenging some preconceptions and confirming
others. Indeed, it is provocative in ways we can only obliquely hint at here.
Highly recommended for those who appreciate Iranian cinema and Persian culture,
Ablution screens this Saturday (5/30)
as part of Competition Shorts: Group 3, at DWF18.
Labels: DWF '15, Iran, Short Films