Saturday, 10 August 2019

Gozaresh [The Report] (Abbas Kiarostami, 1977)

Kuosh Afsharpanah and Shohre Aghdashloo in The Report

Playing this weekend at ICF Center in New York.

The Report [original title: Gozaresh]

Abbas Kiarostami • Iran 1977 • 1h49m • Persian with English subtitles • Cast: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Kurosh Afsharpanah, Mehdi Montazar, Mostafa Tari, Hashem Arkan.

Arguably Kiarostami's least-known great film, part of the difficultly in accessing this compelling marriage drama lies in the fact that it was screened in Iran during the last months of the Pahlavi reign, when the country was gripped by strikes, demonstrations and acts of revolutionary violence – hardly the time for cinema, even if the film did relatively well. Shortly afterwards, when the revolution succeeded, the film – like so many other Iranian films showing nudity, sex or even unveiled women – was banned. The original elements of the film believed to be destroyed during the revolution and the copies in circulation have an unexpected cut in the middle of a scene of intimacy between the two leading characters, suggesting that it has been cut out after the revolution.

According to Iranian film critic Nima Hassani-Nasab, the film was totally conscious of the chaos which lay ahead: "The characters of the film are torn between a desire to revolt on one hand and cowardice and social inaction on the other. This conflict plunges them into dissatisfaction and fills them with hatred for both themselves and the repetitious cycle of life they live."

Kiarostami (in dark glasses) shooting The Report in Tehran

Produced by Iranian new wave director and producer Bahman Farmanara (making this Kiarostami’s first break with his usual producer/employer Kanoon), Kiarostami's second feature centres on an unhappy marriage and offers viewers a time-capsule of middle-class life in Tehran in the 70s. This is a rare glimpse into a world hardly depicted in Iranian films of that period – as they were either set in a half-fantasy world of happy-go-lucky, macho, lower class heroes; or, as in the case of most new wave films, in villages and rural areas.

Kiarostami (in trench coat) behind the scene of The Report

Starring Shohreh Aghdashloo (later a television star and Oscar nominee living in exile in the US), and a major influence on many Iranian directors of the post-revolutionary era (including Asghar Farhadi), this deftly crafted, semi-autobiographical domestic drama (set, as with Kiarostami's other films, in both houses and cars) was its director's first work to feature professional actors, an experiment he would not re-run until 30 years later, in Shirin
Ehsan Khoshbakht

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