Created by Vancouver Film School students Aaron Chiesa, Toru Kageyama, Hendy Sukarya, and Lisa Temes through the VFS Digital Design program. Read more about the piece here:…

Here’s an old post of mine on the attempts to repress the blogs in Iran.  And an old post about a particular Iranian blogger.


Last week Netflix delivered to me an Iranian masterpiece film entitled Baran (rain) put together and directed by Majid Maradi.  He also directed The Color of Paradise which I commented on previously when I wondered how films like that one and Strawberry and Chocolate (from Cuba) could slip through their respective censors.  Maradi must have friends in high places to have slipped Baran through.

Baran is a romance set in a heavily social-stratified Iranian setting – Afghan refugees from the various wars serving as the country’s wetbacks.  The story was told in 2001 and intended to be contemporary, which makes the film even more potent knowing that a huge disruption to Afghanis was only months away.  The initial setting is a construction site which illegally employs Afghans without the proper permits.  One of them is badly hurt.  Facing aggravation of an already extremely impoverished situation, the man’s daughter obtains work at the same site disguised as a boy.  The Iranian “hero” Lateef at first resents her for reasons you will learn, but then discovers her identity and falls in love.  A good portion of the movie consists of an impossible courtship with no possibilities as would be satisfactory for American cinema.  You’re presented with an inevitable heartbreak scenario as really there’s no way to turn and no forseeable ending which wouldn’t betray the harsh realism of the film.

In American cinema loves triumphs over all.  Well, actually, love triumphs all in this movie as well.  Obviously it won’t take you where you might want to go, and for much of the movie you’re wondering just where it will go.  But as Mary Poppins said, “enough is a feast.”  You might say that the film lacks the optimism of transcendence in western cinema, but it doesn’t need to because the romance is consummated in the purity of the eternal moment.  The tragedy is transcended because it’s not rooted in expectation.  The would-be lovers know how they feel, and their circumstances don’t change anything about it.

The backdrop is a harsh social criticism of the Iranian social system and even in a small way policy.  But there are no bad guys.  Even the government immigration agents and the exploitative boss have souls, and there are codes of honor which also transcend the particulars of the situation, even if they’re strictly compartmentalized.  There are acceptable ways to exploit, deceive, and even steal, and there are lines that don’t get crossed.

And there is plenty of forshadowing and metaphor in the scenery and setting to keep a film class occupied.  The low tech construction site which doesn’t seem to make much progress, but holds and promise of the creation of something new, blend a fatalism with hope.

Check it out.  It’ll take you somewhere you haven’t been before.  Guaranteed.