Hot Docs to screen Iranian documentaries

April 21, 2021 - 18:46

TEHRAN-Three Iranian movies will be screened at the Hot Docs, a major Canadian international documentary festival, which is scheduled to be held online from April 29 to May 9 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Holy Bread” and “Neighboring the Moon” will go on screen at the World Showcase section of the festival, while “The Doll” will be screened in the short documentary section.

Directed by late Iranian director Rahim Zabihi, “Holy Bread” documents the highly dangerous work of Kurdish Kulbars - workers who try to support their families by transporting goods across the Iranian border.

On foot, they carry their loads along mountain paths that are rocky, steep, and either slippery due to snow or blisteringly hot. Along the way, many of them suffer injuries, die in blizzards, or are shot by border police.

The powerful scenes of the men’s journeys are matched by their harrowing stories. No one chooses to become a Kulbar, it’s simply an unavoidable consequence of not having any other form of work.

The film crew followed these workers for nine years to document the impact of living like a human pack mule. “Holy Bread” gives exposure to a group of mostly men, who, driven by poverty, hunger, and despair, operate in the margins of society.

The film has recently won the Special Youth Jury Award at the 6th edition of the Ulju Mountain Film Festival in Ulsan, South Korea.

A co-production between Iran and Syria by Iranian director Reza Farahmand, “Neighboring the Moon” Syrian sisters Juli and Maryam, who like other teen girls their age, love animals, makeup, and music. But unlike others, the sisters and their mother have been living for nine years in a cramped room inside Aleppo's biggest hospital.

With the Syrian uprising at a near standstill, their mother attends to COVID-19 patients while the two sisters form their own brigade of young hospital helpers. Spirited Juli ceaselessly voices her desire to escape their living situation, but this pits her against her mother, who prefers the safety of the hospital to an unpredictable life on the outside.

Beautifully observed and interspersed with poetic moments of reverie between the girls, the film captures their day-to-day lives against the backdrop of the pandemic. What emerges is a touching portrait of a broken family dealing with the trauma of war, chasing an elusive dream of a normal life.

“The Doll” by Elahe Esmaeili is a short documentary about a father who consents to the marriage of his 14-year-old daughter Asal.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is the largest documentary festival in North America. The event takes place annually in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Photo: A scene from “Neighboring the Moon”, a co-production between Iran and Syria by Iranian director Reza Farahmand.

ABU/MG

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