In 1962, beloved and controversial poetess Forugh Farrokhzad went to Azerbaijan and made this short film on the grounds of a leper colony, presaging in 22 minutes the entirety of the Iranian new wave and the international quasi-genre of “poetic nonfiction.” It’s a blackjack of a movie, soberly documenting the village of lost ones with an astringently ethical eye, freely orchestrating scenes and simply capturing others, while on the soundtrack Farrokhzad reads her own poetry in a plaintive murmur—this in the same year as Vivre sa Vie and La Jetée. (Chris Marker has long been a passionate fan, as has Abbas Kiarostami, whose The Wind Will Carry Us owes its title and climactic verse to Farrokhzad.) It was the only substantial piece of cinema Farrokhzad ever made. Five years later, having already attained near legendary status in Iran for her writing, she was killed in a car crash at the age of 32, guaranteeing her posthumous fame as a feminist touchstone for generations of angry Persian women. Also on the DVD are two fascinating shorts by Mohsen Makhmalbaf: 1992’s Images From the Qajar Dynasty (a kind of research compilation assembled during the making of Once Upon a Time, Cinema), and 1996’s The School That Was Blown Away, a rural vignette executed as a kind of realist reconsideration of some of Gabbeh‘s tale threads.
Also worth considering:
A Letter to Three Wives (Fox) In Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s precursor to Desperate Housewives, three women wonder whose husband is having an affair.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 15, 2005