For devout Iranian Shia Muslims, to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet, in the Iraqi town of Karbala confers great benefits. However, since the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the border between the two countries has been closed. When Baghdad fell, hope sprung fresh and now 4000 people per day cross the border illegally to visit their beloved Hussein.
It might be expected to be a tale of daring, but we are shown a different side. Sweaty officials in dingy offices try to balance their religious and human sympathies with their duty to uphold the law. The tall tales they are told turn quickly towards the farcical but are set off wonderfully by disputes over identity, considered debate from preachers, delicate montages and chaotic scenes of pilgrims being loaded into trucks like so many chanting cattle among the ruined hulks of tanks. Their extraordinary devotion is finally highlighted as we are shown the bodies of those who did not make it due to landmines, bandits, dehydration, traffic accidents and other unknown causes. Bahman Kiarostami (son of Abbas) is told some incredible stories, and in weaving them together in a perfectly balanced way around this pilgrimage, ends up creating one himself. NS
Playing with Carmen Funebre
Iran Digital 19 mins Director Kazem Mollaie Print Source firstname.lastname@example.org
Teatr Biuro Podrozy (Poland) take their universally acclaimed anti war epic Carmen Funebre to the 23rd International Fadjr Theatre Festival, Tehran. The response from the audience was overwhelming.