Saturday, February 23, 2008

Persepolis & Iranian Film Favs

The story of Marjane Satrapi and her Oscar-nominated animated film Persepolis is now well known. The edgy graphic artist (pictured) first produced a celebrated, French-language comic novela about her life as a girl in post-revolution Iran. Now, she has Hollywood's undivided attention. I've posted before about the power and attraction of novelas in an article about Ugly Betty & the Love and Rockets series, here.

Satrapi's novela was made into an animated film by Sony, based on the hand-drawn images provided by the author. I am extremely impressed that Satrapi declined to produce the film using the vast array of technology offered, opting instead to hand-draw all of the images herself. Now that is dedication to creative art. And evidence of a strong and creative woman. You can see trailers of the film, favored by The Author to win the coveted statue tomorrow night, here. With Ratatouille in the running, competition in this category will be fierce.

It is instructive and rewarding to take a look at the entire Iranian film industry, with its long and storied history in the region and worldwide. I encourage readers of this blog to dedicate a weekend evening to learning more about this country that is so often vilified by the world press and major superpowers. I have found that it is impossible to demonize people whose lives I've witnessed personally and whose art has touched my soul. But more important than that, Iran produces some great films. I have several to recommend.

I collect Persian carpets, so I really enjoyed Gabbeh - a delightful and colorful film that is based on a romantic folktale of nomad life. The story is sweet and engaging, with a twist at the end.

Academy Award nominee, Children of Heaven is also a touching story. It's about the closeness and struggles of children in Iranian society. The White Balloon follows a young girl as she searches for lost money that was trusted to her. It examines fringe members of Iranian society and the detail of their everyday lives. The Color of Paradise is a harder film, involving a blind boy and his unappreciative and scheming father. All are worthy.

Border Cafe (Cafe Transit) is an uplifiting movie about a widow who has the audacity to take over her deceased husband's border cafe, a cultural taboo in rural Iran. The film deals with issues of sexism and personal struggle. This is a jewel of a film. You can see it now on Link TV.

Baran, on the other hand, is a bleak and gray film about the plight of an illegal Afghan refugee worker, who has a secret, on a harsh and unforgiving Iranian construction site. A real eye-opener. Again, with a neat twist of plot.

No comments: