Category: Middle East

09/10/12

A Separation 2011
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Peyman Noadie, Leila Hatami

Through the difficulties of one couple, director Asghar Farhadi illustrates the schism between the classes in contemporary Iran. The spiral of complications begins when Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) separate, because she wants to give 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) a better life abroad and he wants to stay in Tehran to care for his father, who has Alzheimer's disease. Though Termeh would prefer to live with Simin, she remains with Nader in hopes to encourage reconciliation. After Simin moves back in with her mother, Nader hires housekeeper Razieh (Sareh Bayat), who quits when she finds out she has to assist his father with intimate matters, which doesn't square with her religion, so she arranges for her husband to take her place, but he's struggling with his creditors again. Out of desperation, Razieh returns, but then she loses track of the old man, gets into a fight with Nader, and ends up in the hospital. Nader insists he didn't know she was pregnant and had nothing to do with her fall, but the case proceeds to court, one of three trials in the film. The middle-class couple appears to have all the power, except the ensuing web of lies and omissions leaves everyone at some kind of a loss. A Separation isn't, in other words, a happy story, but Farhadi spins out the various twists and turns in an expertly directed, beautifully acted manner, fulfilling the promise of his earlier domestic dramas, like Fireworks Wednesday. --Kathleen C. Fennessy (Persian/Farsi dialogue with English/French subtitles)


08/11/09


"A Rich and Subtly Rendered Comedy and Tragedy."

The Kite (Le cerf-volant) 2003
Directed by Randa Chahal Sabbag
Starring: Flavia Bechara, Zlad Rahbani

Lebanese filmmaker Randa Chahal Sabbag directs the drama La Cerf Volant (The Kite). Teenaged Lamia (Flavia Bechara) lives in southern Lebanon near the border to Israel. One day she lets her kite fly into the Israeli side and attempts to retrieve it. She then meets Israeli Arab border guard Youssef (Maher Bsaibes), who works in a tower overlooking both sides of the barbed-wire fence separating the countries. Her family is outraged, so they send her off to marry her cousin on the other side of the border. Lamia refuses to sleep with her new husband, instead maintaining an interest in Youssef. The Kite was shown at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide
Arabic dialogue with English subtitles


07/17/09


Under the Bombs


Director: Philippe Aractingi
Starring: Nada Abou Farhat, Georges Khabboz

During a cease-fire in the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006, a Christian taxi driver brings an untraditional Shiite woman from Beirut to the heart of the conflict in the country s south. While they scour the rubble of local towns for her son, who was sent to live with her traditional family while she was staying with her husband in Dubai, they discover that despite their very different backgrounds they have much in common. And during their trip through the desolate countryside, the two travelers develop a deep bond as a response to the death striking all around them. The film was shot entirely on location during the summer of 2006, in the middle of the ruins of war-torn Lebanon. Aractingi only hired two professional actors, the rest are real refugees, journalists, soldiers, etc..., playing themselves. Amazon

Arabic dialogue with English/French subtitles

WINNER Altre Visioni and Human Rights Film Award Venice Film Festival
WINNER Golden Pony Award, Best Actress Dubai Intl Film Festival
WINNER The Critics Award Eurasia Film Festival
WINNER Grand Jury Prize Namur Intl Francophone Film Festival
NOMINATED Grand Jury Prize Sundance Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION Seattle Intl Film Festival, Stockholm Intl Film Festival, Amiens Intl Film Festival, Human Rights Watch Film Festival


07/07/09

Israel

Tehilim 2007
Directed by Raphael Nadjari
Starring: Limor Goldstein, Robert Hoenig

When faced with a bizarre crisis, a contemporary Jewish family finds itself torn between legalistic ancient teachings and the modernity necessary for daily problem-solving, in Raphael Nadjari's spiritually themed psychological drama Tehilim. The older generation of the clan at the heart of this story -- typified by grandfather Shmuel (Ilan Dar), his middle-aged son, Eli (Shmuel Vilojni), and Eli's brother, Aharon (Yohav Hayit) -- approaches life with byzantine, cerebral theological discussions. The younger generation -- exemplified by Eli's teenage son, Menachem (Michael Moshonov) -- loses its spiritual vestments upon leaving the house and prefers a more practical approach to life. When Eli suddenly and inexplicably goes missing following a minor car accident, Nadjari segues into a minute investigation of the diverse ways that the individual family members cope with the crisis. While Shmuel and Aharon encourage Eli's wife, Alma (Limor Goldstein), to immerse herself in constant prayer, Alma has had it with spiritual tenets and must figure out very concrete and immediate methods of dealing with her husband's absence and their frozen bank accounts. Meanwhile, Menachem, looking past the immediate crisis, pines for more alone time with his girlfriend, Dvora (Reut Lev). Nadjari co-authored the original script with Vincent Poymiro. ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide
Hebrew dialogue with English subtitles


05/14/09


absolutely delightful!

India

Lage Raho Munna Bhai 2006
Directed by Rajkumar Hirani
Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi

Munnabhai, our local Bombay goon, and his reliable buddy, Circuit are back! Munna is in love with the voice of popular Radio Jockey Jhanvi. Her effervescent greeting of "Good Morrrning Mumbai" on her daily radio show makes Munna's heart skip a beat each time he listens to her. Life is beautiful for Munna--his "dadagiri" business is flourishing, he listens besottedly to the radio for hours every day, he dreams of marrying Jhanvi. There is just one "minor" problem. Jhanvi thinks Munna is a "Professor of History." And in all her innocence, Jhani even invites Munna to give a history lecture to her family. Poor Munna! What should he do?! As Munna tries to sort of this "minor" entanglement in his otherwise perfect life, Circuit comes up with a bright solution. And then, the most unusual thing occurs in Munna's life. What happens when the 'Present' meets the 'Past'? What happens when our very own "Professor of History" encounters a 'Figure from History'? film.com
Hindi dialogue with English subtitles


04/20/09


"Ravishing Photography and Powerful Performances"

Croatia

A Wonderful Night in Split 2004
Directed by Arsen Anton Ostojic
Starring: Dino Dvornik, Mladen Vulic

Set in the dark, eerie streets of medieval Split, Croatia, during the two hours before midnight on New Years eve, this stylish film noir spins several tales of desire, treachery and murder. While crowds gather in the ancient city square for a rock concert, the stories of a young couple plotting a rendezvous, an addict desperate for a fix, a widow and her grieving child, and three drunken American sailors (one played by American rap musician Coolio) become fatally intertwined. Amazon


03/23/09

YEMEN

A New Day in Old Sana'a 2005
Directed by Bader Ben Hirsi
Starring: Nabil Saber, Dania Hammoud

In this achingly romantic tale, handsome young Tariq is about to marry Bilquis, eldest daughter of a prominent and powerful judge. But as he wanders the ancient city of Sana'a late one night, he spots a beautiful young woman dancing in the street and falls madly in love with her. Before long, the young groom must choose between following his heart and protecting his family's honor. Filmed entirely on location in the ancient city of Sana'a, this exquisite film is the first feature ever to come out of Yemen.

Winner! Arab Film Prize, Cairo Film Festival, 2005

Arabic dialogue with English subtitles



"In Jerusalem, love has many roadblocks."

Palestine

Rana's Wedding 2002
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Starring: Bushra Karaman, Clara Khoury

Official Selection! - 2002 Cannes Film Festival
Winner! - Nestor Almendros Prize, 2003 Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Winner! - Best Actress, Clara Khoury, Marrakech Film Festival

Shooting on location in East Jerusalem and Ramallah, Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad (Academy Award® nominee, Paradise Now) offers a romantic and compelling portrait of love under occupation and everyday life turned upside down. When Rana (Clara Khoury) is faced with an ultimatum - choose a husband from a list of eligible, respectable men or leave for Egypt - she goes searching for a lover of her own choosing. Moving across checkpoints to the West Bank, finding a wedding dress in a war zone, and settling family differences all in just ten hours, Rana finds. . . in Jerusalem, love has many roadblocks. Typecast Films

Arabic dialogue with English Subtitles



"Story of four ordinary guys and one big rock."

IRAN

Men at Work 2006
Directed by Amir Esbati
Starring: Atilla Pesyani, Mahmoud Kalari

A handful of men prove their masculine determination brings them nothing but trouble in this playful satiric comedy from Iran. Four longtime friends, all well into middle age, are returning to Tehran from a weekend skiing trip when they discover a large rock is stuck in the middle of a road winding around a mountain. The tall stone shaft (which appears just a bit phallic) is preventing them from going forward, so they try to push it over, with no success. They try to persuade an elderly man to help them move the rock with the help of his donkey, but the donkey's owner is wary, and after he's paid off, the plan still fails to move the stone. A pair of women happen by, one of whom is married to one of the skiers; while she tries to patiently stay out of the argument, her best friend is soon quarrelling with the guys about moving the rock, and as the day progresses and traffic begins to back up, she has more than a few other voices backing her up. Directed by Mani Haghighi, Karegaran Mashghoul-e Karand (aka Men At Work) was based on a story idea by the legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
Farsi Dialogue with English subtitles



"Works like a ticking timebomb"

IRAN

Day Break 2006
Directed by Hamid Rahmanian
Starring: Hossein Yari, Hoda Nasseh

In Iran, capital punishment is carried out according to Islamic law, which gives the family of the victim ownership of the offender's life. Day Break, based on a compilation of true stories and shot inside Tehran's century-old prison, revolves around the imminent execution of Mansour, a man found guilty of murder. When the family of the victim repeatedly fails to show up on the appointed day, Mansour's execution is postponed again and again. Stuck inside the purgatory of his own mind, he waits as time passes on without him, caught between life and death, retribution and forgiveness.
Official Selection - Toronto and Tribeca Film Festivals. Prometheus Creek
In Farsi with English subtitles.


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