Iranian film shows cold post-revolutionary society

Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:28pm EST
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By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI (Reuters Life!) - A grainy close-up slowly comes into focus against a soundtrack of rock music to reveal a photograph from the early days of Iran's 1979 revolution of youth on motorbikes about to ride over an American flag.

The opening sequence of "The Hunter" by Rafi Pitts sets the scene for a film where a disillusioned resident of Tehran takes revenge for the death of his wife and child -- caught up in street disturbances during the 2009 elections -- by shooting two policemen in cold blood as they drive down a highway.

Though the film shown at Dubai film festival avoids direct political messages, somehow the predicament of the Islamic republic three decades after it came into existence haunts the entire story -- a thriller where the protagonist Ali is hunted down and ultimately killed by the representatives of the state.

"A cop-killer, eh? You think this country has no law and order?" a police officer says to him menacingly after his capture in the woods north of a capital city that the camera depicts as crowded, oppressive and alienating.

Only a few words here and there, or a brief radio news bulletin in the background, give any sense that the film was shot during the presidential elections that unleashed mass urban protests against returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The preponderance of the color green in some scenes -- even a wall-painting of waves in a hotel bedroom -- hints at the Iranian opposition which often referred to itself as the "green wave" and took green as its rallying color.

The Berlin-based Pitts -- whose "Sanam" won the Paris film festival best film prize in 2001 -- says he never intended to make a movie about the controversial 2009 vote, which prompted street violence two days after the film crew left Iran.

But he did want to touch on the deep rifts dividing a society that witnessed not just revolution, but an eight-year-long war and advent of a new form of religious state viewed by its critics as another tyranny.   Continued...