“A Respectable Family,” a new Iranian film which premiered in Cannes’ Directors Fortnight section this week, won’t do much to calm the strident anti-artist backlash in the country, which has put acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi under arrest indefinitely, and censored, harrassed and imprisoned countless others. Directed by Massoud Bakhshi (who made the much-admired personal documentary “Tehran Has No More Pomegranates”), the film tells the story of a young man, Arash, who, after more than two decades in Paris, returns to Iran where he becomes embroiled in the dark secrets of his family’s past and Iranian society.
According to a report in AFP, the film repeatedly hints at the scourge of corruption, profiteering, and censorship in the nation. “In Iran we don’t have a word for censorship – we have surveillance,” says Bakhshi.
“I wanted to explore things that are not necessarily shown in the media, things from everyday life,” explained the filmmaker, who went on to say his priority is to show the film at home in Iran. “Maybe it will take time, but I think it will be released there.”
Indeed, judging from early reviews of the film, the movie is not likely to pass Iran’s cinema censors any time soon. The Hollywood Report called the film a “condemnation of the political quagmire that is modern-day Iran…. ” And while the reviews suggests the film doesn’t deliver “the kind of dramatic knock-out blow” of Oscar-winner “A Separation,” “there’s a similar underlying feeling of hopelessness in Arash’s efforts to wrestle with his family and the establishment, a sense that the game has been rigged from the get-go.”