Saturday, April 16, 2011
Everything I had read about "Circumstance", the Audience Winner at Sundance, was absolutely true. First time writer/director Maryam Keshavarz provides a look at the everyday life of an Iranian family struggeling with the human rights issues that few of us in America will ever see. The political, sexual, and religious issues that the people of Iran deal with on a daily basis are foreign to the lifestyles of the American people. However, Maryam Keshavarz along with a young cast that is mature beyond their years deliver a compelling performance.
The film focuses on a wealthy family lead by Firouz (Soheil Parsa) and Azar (Nasrin Pakkho) who welcome the favored son home Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai) over their rebelious daughter Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and her friend Shireen (Sarah Kazemy). Even though Mehran is a recovering crack addict. The political and religious boundaries cross with the society that does not value women when the son, Mehran, becomes a Muslim fanatic and joins the Morality Police and places his family under survellance. What Mehran discovers is that his rebelious sister and her friend are engaging in sexual activities that are not acceptable by society standards. The political pressures that Mehran is able to force upon his father and family provide the compelling edge to the story.
The American influences on Atafeh and Shireen are very evident and likely echo the experiences that Maryan Keshavarz had growing up in America and Iran. Whether it is the music, television (American Idol), or Hollywood (the film "Milk") the impact on the young girls is obvious. These elements are important to the story, but provide humor to the American audience.
This film was an excellent entry to Filmfest DC and I hope that it receives additional attention and reaches more theaters. Circumstance should receive the Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film and without a doubt should walk away with the award. It is a shame that foreign language films do not receive more attention to the American audience because this film deserves Best Picture consideration and Best Actress nominations. I could even see this film getting a nomination for Cinematography as the seaside and hiking shots are visually amazing.
If you do get a chance to see this movie, please Quack back and let me know what you think. I have a feeling that this film will provide for a considerable amount of conversation on the topics above. Easily a 5 Quack movie.
(screening date 4/15/11, release date UNKNOWN, location Regal Gallery Place 14)