For the Sake of Haniye | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

For the Sake of Haniye 

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This 1995 Iranian film, directed by former film critic Kiumars Poorahmad, goes in several different stylistic directions at once but nonetheless is an effective tale of small-town intolerance and a boy's courage. Olov, the captain of a fishing boat in the village of Tangak, is the only survivor of a storm, which is shown not literally but in poetic and elliptical fragments--e.g, images of a vase breaking and shutters being blown open by the wind. The villagers blame him for losing their kin and attack his wife, forcing him and his family to leave. His young son Bashiru, who becomes a delivery boy with a handcart to support the family, wants to play a ritual drum used in local ceremonies of prayer and healing--perhaps to help his sister Haniye, who walks on crutches--so he risks his life by returning to Tangak alone. On his journey a wheel falls off his cart, and the camera follows it bouncing across the landscape, leading to an interlude in which Bashiru tries to recover it. This interruption recalls the charmingly picaresque narratives of other Iranian films, in which characters' apparent directions are suddenly diverted. The Tangak villagers who harass Bashiru once he arrives are represented as elliptically as the storm--we see shadows on the ground, a hand entering from offscreen--making them seem almost like forces of nature. There's a bit of cliche in the portrayal of Bashiru's courage, but the film's measured pace and sober depiction of village customs offer a window to a genuinely different culture. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, September 28, 8:00, Sunday, September 29, 6:00, 443-3737.

--Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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