9 September 2022.
THE APPLE DAY ***1/2 (vo Farsi)
This warm and touching Iranian film starts off with a father and his small son picking apples in their village to sell in the city. They transport the apples in the little van that the father drives. Later we see the young children in elementary school where the teacher asks them to share with the class whatever their fathers produce, and it falls to Saeed to collect apples for this school project.
But in the meantime, the father’s van is stolen and this loving family falls on dire times without the transport for his livelihood. The wife works hard to support them, the husband asks a good friend for help and tries various jobs, while little Saeed also takes on menial tasks to bring in some money. There is much unity and caring all around, but their financial situation is precarious. The husband dreams of his peaceful village where all seemed secure, but the wife has bigger ideas for some dubious investments in the city, and through it all Saeed is trying to gather as many apples for school as he can get his hands on, one way or another.
This delicate film – both painful and humorous – feels like an homage to Italian neorealism of the 1940s, especially tipping a hat to Vittorio Desica’s “Bicycle Thief”. There are also exquisite moments as director Mahmoud Ghaffari portrays the idyllic countryside in the fashion that Kiarostami may have used. And Saeed’s apple quest reminds one of Panahi’s little girl desperately looking for goldfish in “The White Balloon”.
Apple Day is a worthy tribute to all those masters but also to Iran’s struggling working class, revealed through artful touches that bring out the different characters’ motives. Through it all there is a thread of decency and hope in this simple yet very clever tale.
(At the Grütli Cinemas)
REVOIR PARIS *** (vo French)
Present at a horrific terrorist attack on a restaurant in Paris, and very nearly killed with many others, a young woman needs time to let the trauma settle. A journey through self-doubt and a search for the real truth behind what happened that night leads her to upturn her life and find peace and love in a different place from where she had come from.
This psychological thriller cum love story is a very good film, well handled by Virginie Efira as the woman and Benoit Magimel as the man she shared the experience with. Directed by Alice Winocour. In French of course, and the attack scene is not for the faint-hearted, but if you can take that I recommend the film.
A tribute to JAFAR PANAHI – TAXI TEHRAN (vo Farsi, French subtitles)
will be shown for only one evening on Tuesday, September 13th at 19.30, at the Cinema Grütli, in association with The Cine-Club-Persan, Genève, for a special screening of one of Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s most personal films. (Apéro will be offered.)
A taxi driver goes around Tehran, picking up various passengers. He has quite friendly and animated conversations with them. These are all sorts of people, from every class, with their diverse problems and tales, but the most precious of them all is a precocious little girl who has an answer to everything.
Nothing could be simpler than this, to film just snippets of lives in a taxi… And yet… and yet, there is a world of daring, intelligence, humor and courage in this semi-documentary from 2015, which took the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin film festival that year. For the director and driver of the taxi are both Jafar Panahi, one of Iran’s most esteemed filmmakers. Taxi Tehran actually epitomises much of what Panahi has been creating all along in his career – films with a deep caring for the lives of his people and the problems of his country. His many works, which have received multiple awards around the world, include The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold, Offside, This is Not a Film, etc.
You may have seen this film, but it is one to see again for all the special characters, the gentle look at his city and the humanity of Panahi, who is now in prison.
We salute his great talent.
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Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.