Paradise

(Ma dar Behesht)
(Iran, Germany, 2015, 100 mins, DCP)
Director:
CAST Dorna Dibaj, Fariba Kamran, Fateme Naghavi, Nahid Moslemi, Roya Afshar
PROD Yousef Panahi, Sina Ataeian Dena, Amir Hamz
SCR Sina Ataeian Dena
CAM Payam Sadeghi
ED Sina Ataeian Dena, Mohammad Tavakoli
PROD DES Amin Dehfooli
PROD CO Bon Voyage Films / Sina Dena Films
Awards: Ecumenical Jury Prize, Swatch Art Peace Hotel Award: First Feature, Locarno 15

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Shot clandestinely in Iran, at times with actors unaware that they were being photographed, Sina Ataeian Dena’s remarkable debut feature—the first in a proposed trilogy on violence in Tehran—sparks with a fresh, exacting compositional formalism not normally seen in underground Iranian productions. With an almost exclusive female cast, Paradise concentrates on the role of women in contemporary Iranian society.

Hanieh (first time actress and artist, Dorna Dibaj, sensational), a recently orphaned 24-year-old Tehran middle-class woman who lives with her married sister, wakes up early every morning and travels a long way to teach at a primary school in a wild and poor suburb. (The school scenes are especially memorable.) Sick of her life and increasingly exhausted, Hanieh is trying to get transferred to a job in the city but the paperwork appears to be stuck somewhere in the daunting Iranian administration. When, one day, she arrives at work to find out that two female students have disappeared and are feared to have been kidnapped, her problems suddenly seem petty…

Produced in part by Jafar Panahi’s brother (and regular producer) Yousef Panahi, and a multiple prizewinner in Locarno, the fictional Paradise represents an important document that captures current-day existence in Iran in an absorbing manner, illustrating the inescapable circle of violence that all societies draw for themselves.

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