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Moira Jean Sullivan

Moira Sullivan is a member of FIPRESCI and Alliance for Women Film Journalists. She writes for three venues:



Venice Orizzonti awards to Vahid Jalilvand and Navid Mohammadzadeh for 'No Date, No Signature'


Iranian films are noted for their in depth exploration of moral subjects. Details are turned over and over again for this examination. This results in films with an almost timeless content because even under scrutiny the themes produce more questions. There is no real causality in these intriquing treatises of the human condition. No Date, No Signature (Bedoone Tarikh, Bedoone Emza), which premiered on September 2 at the 74th Venice Film Festival (Aug 30- Sept 9), is one example. The cinematography is somber and bleak with dull colors both at night and during daylight.

The Orizzonti Award for Best Director went to Vahid Jalilvand for the story of a government coroner. His medical practice includes off site diagnoses that land him - or could land him - in trouble. On his way home one night, Dr. Kaveh Nariman (Amir Agha’ee), who is often shown talking on his cell phone while at the wheel, is overtaken by a car that wants to pass. Nariman swerves his car in order to not be hit on the left even though a man on a motorbike with an eleven-year-old boy, a woman and a child on the right are knocked off the road. Narimen offers to drive them to the hospital and also gives them money for damages.  He examines the boy, Amir, and determines he is only slightly injured. The wife, husband and small child, curiously, are never looked at. The father Moosa (Navid Mohammadzadeh) refuses to take a ride with Nariman for medical followup and drives off with his wife Leila (Zakieh Behbahani) and his children, passing a hospital on the way.

The accident later comes to haunt Nariman. His colleague and intimate friend Dr. Sayeh Behbahani (Hediyeh Tehrani) later performs an autopsy on the same boy from the roadside accident who has apparently died of botulism. His parents are questioned about serving tainted food and deny any wrong doing.

Jalilvand is excellent in creating suspense through character studies by excellent actors. Everyone looks suspicious and seems to have something to hide. Given the political situation in Iran, the uncertainty of the characters reflects a society that treats offenders of the state harshly. The accident is dictated by the law, and in Iran “the law is the law”. The initial autopsy does not disclose previous injuries and Dr. Nariman does not come clean with his knowledge of the family even though he knows Amir was being examined in the morgue. These incidents radiate into extenuating circumstances that have legal and moral complications.

Nariman should have had other legal scrapes because he treats patients unofficially including the battered wife of a violent husband.  His car is uninsured and would have been impounded, he later argues in court, when asked why the police were not involved in the roadside accident with Moosa. Consistently throughout his performance, Amir Aghaee as Nariman maintains a rigid exterior, a man plagued by his conscience who is often silent when he needs to speak up. Moosa is the same. The food his family ate was tainted and sold to him by a man at a poultry processing plant. Moosa violently confronts the seller at the plant and later and assaults him and is sent to prison. Leila is inconsolable and justifiably outraged at her husband. It is unclear at the funeral for Amir if a parallel event is happening nearby with loud speakers emitting a strong male voice and attendees looking away from the gravesite towards the source of the sound.

The Orizzonti Award for Best Actor went to Navid Mohammadzadeh for his portrayal of Moosa.

Oblivion Verses also won the FIPRESCI award. 


Moira Sullivan

Alliance of Women Film JournalistsFIPRESCI



 Photos: ©La Biennale di Venezia 2017


About Moira Jean Sullivan