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A Different View of Iran

 

Monday, July 30------- With Iran very much in the news in the United States these days (mostly negative), it is a kind of act of artistic defiance for courageous film distributors to bring to the American public another view of the "axis of evil". Those in the know have long realized that Iranian cinema is among the most poetic, visually magnificent and humanistic.....a far cry from the way most Americans are taught to think of the country and its citizens. A new addition to the roster of Iranian films that have graced these shores arrives on Friday, with the release by New Yorker Films of Academy Award® nominee Majid Majidi¹s THE WILLOW TREE. The film will open in New York on August 3rd for an exclusive engagement at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema, followed by a national release.

Majid Majidi¹s vivid imagery and emotional immediacy have made him the most accessible of major Iranian filmmakers. His films CHILDREN OF HEAVEN and THE COLOR OF PARADISE center on impoverished children and adolescents. THE WILLOW TREE avoids this coming-of-age theme by focusing on a middle-aged hero and the middle-class milieu from which he springs, making this Majdi's most mature film to date. The film was celebrated in its native Iran upon its release in 2005, winning the "Iranian Oscar" for its director and its lead actor Parvis Parastui.

The action centers on Youssef, blind since childhood, with a devoted wife, loving daughter, and successful university career. However, his affliction fills him with secret torment. When a Paris clinic restores his sight, it becomes a double-edged sword. Seeing things as they really are is not always seeing them in their ideal form.  Although this new world of sight and color floods Youssef with ecstasy, it also plunges him into a labyrinth of confusions and temptations. A pretty student begins to eclipse his dowdy, previously invisible wife......his restored vision allows him to see how people mistreat one another in his society, and by observing, implicate him as a silent witness. A striking early scene, during which Youssef sees the world for the first time since childhood, is emblematic of the director's poetic style.....he closely observes a worker ant as it disappears in and out of the shadow cast by the bars of a hospital room window. These and other visual metaphors present a symbolic view of the world as tossed between light and shadow, good and evil, the individual and the society.

Youssef is played by one of Iran's most famous actors, Parvis Parastui, whose intensely physical performance parallels the character's moral paralysis. In the end, when he is blind again, there is a sense that the comforting veil of darkness does provide a kind of solace and refuge. This is a powerful parable about the connect between sight and insight, using Youssef¹s metaphorsis as a resonant symbol of life's second chances. The cinematography is especially striking and reinforces the simple pleasure and soaring miracle of clear and intense visuals as one of life's great gifts. To get more information, visit the film's website: http://www.cinemajidi.com/willow

Sandy Mandelberger, Coming Attractions Editor

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About Coming Attractions

Sandy Mandelberger
(International Media Resources)

Previews of Upcoming Films, Videos and New Media Coming To Theaters, Festivals, DVD and the Internet.


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