The Persian Version

The Persian Version
The Persian Version
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The Persian Version, which won the Audience and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is using fantasy elements coupled with highly-stylized filmmaking techniques to tell a powerful narrative. Immigrants trying to find their place in two vastly different countries over several decades have to face a clash of culture, values, and identity. The bells and whistles gimmicks intended for adding humorous element get a little monotonous. The message delivered doesn’t. Impossible sacrifices and hardships don’t last but love and compassion always do.

In NYC today, Layla Mohammadi (Leila Jamshidpour) sequins up a burka’s headdress; then she puts on an incomplete bikini that barely covers her body; takes a surfboard and goes walking aggressively toward what people think as costume party. The punk music blaring around her helps to break the ice as it congratulates revelers for the audacity she had shown in dressing up. Leila ogles lasciviously at some man in drag while Maximillian Balthazar (Tom Byrne), an actor starring in Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch is bowled over by him.

In Jersey City, Niousha Noor is Shireen, Leila’s mother who gets an urgent phone call. They’ve found donor heart for her husband! She wakes up Ali Reza very frailly (Bijan Daneshmand) before driving him to the hospital. Shireen prays that a Shīʿa Islam saint will speed their way through traffic. A text message is sent by her to 9 children asking them to come immediately But Shireen has another idea of what her daughter should do.

Leila leads out of bed postcoital about this news story; she is distraught that Shireen does not want her at the hospital. Go home with your aunty Mamanjoon (Bella Warda). It is laughable for her own grandmother to advise her on such a relationship. Mamanjoon does not remember that her granddaughter is a lesbo who once wedded another woman. The conversation takes an unexpected turn when Mamanjoon, still drowsy let out of the bag that she has secrets. Leila doesn’t know why her parents came to America.

The Persian Version is very artistically busy.Written and directed by Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance, Viper Club), it proves an artful embellishment of her life story. The opening act includes full-on musical numbers, animation and introduces the recurring use of direct character asides to the audience. Leila and Shireen literally break the fourth wall by having everyone else in scene freeze while they go further into what really happened.This is very important for plot development as Leila knows very little about how mum grew up in Iran.

In act two, more family histories are revealed through new episodes with young actors taking on roles as members of the earlier generation. In 1980’s, Chiara Stella depicts Leila chafing under Shireen’s parenting methods.She had been forced into cooking and cleaning whilst all other eight brothers were spared from any domestic work. Subjugated only daughter – this is how she feels herself.Leila turns into Shervin Alenabi’s Ali Reza’s bride at thirteen as seen by Keshavarz after she has shifted perspective again.Her marriage had been arranged to Ali Reza then a recent medical school graduate (Shervin Alenabi) so they moved to a remote village where he was the only doctor around.

Troubled pregnant teenager Shireen and struggling mother in Brooklyn is the basis of The Persian Version. Leila never saw her grow up fully. Keshavarz reveals the immense burdens and unflagging determination of Shireen and this makes it special. Her devotion to her husband and children during that period was amazing; therefore, they thrived because she was selfless. Meaning behind Shireen’s disappointment in Leila are understood. In her mind, Leila has persecuted herself by abdicating faith for wickedness. Everything about Leila from her sexuality to her attitude is an insult to everything Shireen worked so hard for.

Leila’s voice-over expresses how much she needs approval from Shireen all the time. She was rejected in Iran as well as America too. Eventually, however, she decides to carve out a place for herself but can’t leave behind family members who need her more than anything else does. Another shade of appreciation could be seen in Leila toward her own culture throughout this episode. She says and lives the truth without embarrassment or fearfulness at all times! Leave gay people alone please! Crossing such is now what must lean towards moving on with their relationship since it is very complex with both good times and bad ones like roses’ and thorns’. It comes when both women change their minds about each other although there are some issues left open for further discussion which were highlighted by Keshavarz using some revealing facts.

The largest role played by Marakesh Films; Archer Gray; AgX, A Bigger Boat (Production Companies). It starts screening October 20th in NY and LA opening nationwide on November 3rd via Stage 6 Films/Sony Pictures Classics.

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