Thursday 20 July 2023

Tranquility in the Presence of Others (Nasser Taghvai, 1969)

Tranquility in the Presence of Others

Nasser Taghvai, 1969, 84 min, Persian with English subtitles

Often seen as one of the indispensable films of the Iranian New Wave, Tranquility in the Presence of Others [Aramsh Dar Hozor-e Digaran] is a poignant and brisk cinematic adaptation of a story by leftist (and later exiled and banned) writer Gholam-Hossein Saedi, attacking the indecisiveness and empty rhetoric of Iranian intellectuals, as well as dissecting the patriarchal core of Iranian society. Banned after a single screening at the Shiraz Arts Festival of 1969 – a ban which was not removed until 1973 – it tells the story of a retired army general who travels to Tehran with his newlywed wife to visit his daughters, only to observe their unhappiness and casual affairs. As his mental condition deteriorates, the film’s tone shifts from sardonic to tragic. Tranquility in the Presence of Others delves into the anxieties of a country that is seemingly marching forward but retains a troubled, melancholic relationship with the past. The gender and social conflicts of Saedi's story are brilliantly translated into a bleak vision of Iranian society and the confusion of the middle classes.  – Ehsan Khoshbakht

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2023: Favourites & Discoveries

The 37th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato concluded last week but its memories live on. 

In Silk Stockings (Rouben Mamoulian, 1957), a quintet of melancholic expats freshly returned from a seductive Paris to a drab shared apartment in Moscow start reminiscing about the joys of the high life in the French capital. Soon it turns into a competition in remembering. Getting too intense where disillusioned Marxist-Leninists accuse each other of stealing one another's memories, Ninotchka (Cyd Charisse), fervently dedicated to the equal distribution of all kinds of wealth, steps in and declares: "Comrades, there are enough memories for all of us." Judging from the range and diversity of this year's picks by festival attendees, it seems that we should not be too worried about running out of memories until next June.

Statistics tell me "120,000 spectators" have viewed "470 films [in] seven cinemas," a 12% increase in attendance compared to previous year. Feelings tell me billions of memories have been made.

Nearly 120 participants from 39 countries have picked their "favourite film" at the festival, as well as their "major discovery" this year. Some have accompanied their choices with additional notes. It's a delight to read.

See their picks below.

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