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April 11, 2018

Iranian classic screened at Lok Virsa


April 11, 2018

Mandwa Film Club of Lok Virsa screened film The Mirror from Iran on Saturday.

Today in 2018, Iranian cinema has reached a level where it can compete with films from anywhere in the world , and in many cases, surpassing them in quality, character study, cinematic standards, choice of subjects and creative handling. This has not been easy and it took Iran almost forty years to reach this junction. Director Jafar Panahi's film The Mirror from 1997 is testimony to that fact.

A child has to find way home from school. Here, human perspective focuses on hardships of life. Our heroine here is Mina, a seven-year-old girl in school whose mother has not arrived to pick her up. It is time for the child to go out alone and find her way home. It looks real but it is not real --the world is good and bad.

She must find her way through crowds of Tehran and meet all kinds of people in the crowd, people who would help her and guide here and people who would be indifferent and walk way. The director, through this, brings out fusion of reality and imagination. It is real but is it real. It is docudrama where reality meets theatrics.

Films for and with children are tough cookies. While they are difficult to make, the genre enjoys some privileges: innocence and layers of emotions in case you have a believable strong script. Jafar Panahi uses documentary style with several hand-hand camera shots. The child is seen wandering on Tehran street after street. This has been filmed with cinematic craftsmanship, proper planning and care. In terms of filming, nothing on the streets is out of control, notwithstanding noises, shouting and hustle bustle.

Without giving the slightest clue to the rest of the plot here, a time comes when film turns different from what we have seen so far- in view, out of view, increasing traffic congestion and sound being switched off. Jafar Panahi works with child-focused neo-realist approach, just like Neo-realism of Italy from late-forties (Bicycle Thief, Shoeshine). On the soundtrack, we have football team playing a match in South Korea. Self-reflection on screen is a challenge and most of the times difficult to sustain the interest of the audience. The Mirror is an example where it succeeds at that. The Mirror is innovative and interesting in finding out how personalities of children are enriching with all shades of life. It captivates us.

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