Closed Curtain

A man, his dog, a young woman and a filmmaker in a house by the Caspian Sea. All three are wanted, but they are also in search of each other. Thus begins an absurd game in which reality and fiction merge.

The Patience Stone

A woman in an unnamed, war-torn Middle Eastern country delivers an engrossing, emotional monologue to her comatose husband, in novelist and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi’s poetic and politically charged allegory based on his award-winning novel. (TIFF)

Rhino Season

Acclaimed Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi (A Time for Drunken Horses) directs Monica Bellucci and Iranian superstar Behrouz Vossoughi in this haunting, dreamlike love story that spans three decades. (TIFF)

Fifi Howls from Happiness

An act of recovery, and an entrancing documentary construction that appears to weave its own form as it proceeds, according to the inspirations and demands of its jubilant, egotistical and irascible subject. That subject is the Iranian painter and sculptor Bahman Mohasses, who was a celebrated and iconoclastic figure in the pre-revolutionary 60s and 70s, known for his art as well as his merciless public pronouncements. Mohasses remained in Iran after the revolution, but he frequently traveled in secret to Italy, which he finally made his home in 2006. Throughout the years, many of his works were destroyed by the new government, and many more by Mohasses himself. Filmmaker Mitra Farhani tracked down Mohasses in a Roman hotel and filmed him during the last six months of his life. The poetic self-portrait that they made together is a joyous celebration of freedom—to create, to destroy, to indulge, to pontificate and make withering judgments, to live without regret. [Synopsis courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center]

Iranian

It took two years for Mehran Tamadon to persuade the four supporters of the Iranian regime to risk taking part in an experiment with him. Now he receives them as guests at his family’s country house to try out something that does not exist in Iran: a pluralistic society. As the women disappear into the guest rooms, the men discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a secular society, the veil, abortion, freedom of the press… The guests not merely outnumber the filmmaker, who is critical of the regime, but are also masters of rhetoric. Again and again, they twist his words and use them against him. His secular society, they argue, is just as ideological as their religious one. The mood is contentious, but there’s also a great deal of communal laughter, prayer and cooking. In the end, the attempt to create a social utopia fails as there are simply too many issues that are non-negotiable. But does that mean that the experiment itself has failed? After all, for a brief time, differing lifestyles and opinions managed to co-exist. A dialogue took place. For the filmmaker, however, there’ll be a high price to pay. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]

I’m not Angry!

Navid, an Iranian Kurd living in Tehran, meets Setareh during the protests that erupt following the 2009 elections. They continue their political activism at their university until one day Navid is thrown out. To cap it all, Setareh’s father tells him to stay away from his daughter; if Navid really loves her, so the argument goes, he will not ruin her future by continuing to woo her as a penniless man. Navid pleads for a period of grace in which he can find work and a place for both of them to live. As we observe him making his way through the loud and hectic Tehran, we gain an insight into the different social circles and ways of life in this city. Gradually, Navid’s frustration turns into aggression. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps and other sordid souls, is a bastion of depravity and hopelessness where a lonely vampire stalks its most unsavory inhabitants. But when boy meets girl, an unusual love story begins to blossom… blood red. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Film Festival]

Stop-Over (L’Escale)

A modest Athens apartment has become a terminal of lost souls to a steady influx of illegal Iranian immigrants seeking transit to a better life in the West. Hosted by the generous Amir, himself an immigrant, these shipwrecked men and women are marooned in a dehumanizing limbo while they try to obtain the forged documents and smuggler contacts that will allow them safe passage to their ultimate destinations. Most started out able-bodied, educated and with some means, but false promises and outright swindles have left them stranded in a hostile situation where a trip to the grocery store could cost them their freedom, or even their lives. [Synopsis courtesy of COLCOA]