Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lerd / A Man of Integrity

Lerd. Reza Akhlaghirad (Reza), Soudabeh Beizaee (Hadis).

Director: Mohammad Rasoulof
Country: Iran
Year: 2017
Duration: 1.57
Languages: fa
Category: Gems of New Cinema
    Midnight Sun Film Festival, Sodankylä.
    DCP with English subtitles at Cinema Lapinsuu, 17 June 2017

MSFF: "A Man of Integrity tells the story of Teheran-based Reza, a university professor who gets fired from his job after having complained about the food at work after which he, his wife and his young son move to Northern Iran to raise goldfish. The corporation next door wants a piece of Reza’s land and the company’s collaborator Abbas uses some dirty tricks in order to destroy the gold fish hatchery and, eventually, Reza and his family. Reza’s wife Hadis, the local school’s headmaster, tries to blackmail Abbas through his daughter who Hadis teaches, revealing some devious aspects of Abbas – and Reza, too. The entire subregion seems to be under the thumb of the giant corporation. Corruption thrives everywhere, even throughout the highest body of officials. Left with little choice, Reza attempts to keep his head high, not giving in to the corruption despite what Hadis says. “The pride of men creates problems that need to be solved by the intelligence of women”, Hadis says at some point."

"The film is a societal moral story that resembles the famous Russian movie from three years ago; Andrej Zvjagintsev’s Leviathan (2014). Finally, The Man of Integrity questions Reza’s morale too. At the end of the film he turns his back toward the viewer." (VpM)

"MOHAMMAD RASOULOF (born 1973) belongs to the generation of Iranian filmmakers influenced by Abbas Kiarostami (1940–2016) who Rasoulof has (along with Jafar Panahi) considered as a role model. What these two directors have in common is a method of observing the world from a mundane perspective while revealing societal grievances. This has led them both to a permanent state of conflict with the Iranian authorities. In the case of Panahi, it resulted in a prohibition on making movies, which he has continuously disobeyed by working underground and smuggling his films to the international market in memory sticks."

"Rasoulof, in turn, has not been able to screen any of his six films in his home country and at times has been sent to jail for breaking his prohibition on making movies. Once, both Panahi and Rasoulof were arrested on set while they were shooting a joint film. At Cannes film festival in 2011 his film Goodbye received the Un certain regard award which he was unable to collect due to his prohibition on leaving Iran.
" (MSFF)

IMDb: "A drama about the corruption and injustice in the Iranian society. You are the suppressed, or you have to join the suppressor to survive!"

Reza Akhlaghirad (Reza)
Soudabeh Beizaee (Hadis)

AA: I missed the beginning of A Man of Integrity as I was introducing a parallel screening. This is the first film by Mohammad Rasoulof that I have seen, and he seems to belong to the great contemporary Iranian ones along with Panahi and Farhadi.

An engrossing story of a little man against a mafia-like power structure in the North Iranian countryside. The indefatigable Reza seems to be on the path to martyrdom fighting against the odds. Until there is a stunning volte-face.

The tragic quandary reminds me of The Big Heat.
Fighting the mob you risk becoming like one of them... here: even one of them.

"Bei den Erdbeben, die kommen werden, werde ich hoffentlich
Meine Virginia nicht ausgehen lassen durch Bitterkeit
("In the earthquakes that are to come I shall not, I hope,
Let my cigar go out because of bitterness")
wrote Bertolt Brecht. But it does not look good for Reza.

Very well made. Coming too late to the sold-out screening I failed to take notes.

Good visual quality in the digital projection.

In Finnish: "Tulevissa maanjäristyksissä toivon, että katkeruus ei himmennä sikarini hehkua".

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