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52nd edition from May 13 to 23, 2020

Gaav / the cow

Fortnight 1971, Feature film, 100'

Synopsis

L’histoire de Mashdi Hassan, pauvre villageois iranien du XXe siècle épris d’affection pour sa vache. Plus qu’un gagne-pain, l’animal lui sert aussi de compagnon pour les temps difficiles, de confidentes pour les journées répétitives, les injustices communes à un mode de vie rural n’ayant en quelques points pas changé depuis plus d’un millénaire. Le jour où sa belle amie disparaît, le monde tel qu’il le conçoit s’effondre pour Hassan. Condamné à vivre sans elle et à refuser l’explication des villageois qui prétendent qu’elle s’est enfuie, le fermier qui éprouvait une joie de vivre si contaminante dans ces nombreux plans de vue naturalistes du début sombre dans une mélancolie maladive le menant à retrouver sa vache dans un délire anthropomorphisant le simplet animal. Devenu sa vache, Hassan met en déroute tous les habitants du village qui, la veille, avaient retrouvé ladite vache assassinée par un clan voisin (ou du moins on le suggère); à cet instant, dissimulé la vérité au brave homme en enterrant la victime semblait l’idée la moins dérangeante.

Director

Dariush Mehrjui

As an Iranian New Wave cinema icon, Mehrjui is regarded to be one of the intellectual directors of Iranian cinema.Dariush Mehrjui was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1939. As an adult, he moved to the United States and entered the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Department of Cinema. He switched his major to philosophy and graduated from UCLA in 1964. Returning to Iran in 1965, he almost immediately embarked on a filmmaking career. He made his debut in 1966 with Diamond 33. His second featured film, Cow (1969), brought him national and international recognition. Cow, a compelling symbolic drama, is about a simple villager and his nearly mythical attachment to his cow. The story of the film was from renowned Iranian literary figure Gholamhossein Sa’edi. In 1971, the film was smuggled out of Iran and submitted to the Venice Film Festival, where, without programming or subtitles, it became the largest event of that year’s festival. The film was a turning point in the history of Iranian cinema. The public received it with great enthusiasm, despite the fact that it had ignored all the traditional elements of box office attraction. In 1973 Mehrjui began directing what was to be his most acclaimed film. The Cycle was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture but encountered opposition from the Iranian medical establishment and was banned from release until 1977. It was universally admired abroad. The film won the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1978. In 1981, he traveled to Paris and remained there for several years, during which time he made a feature-length semi-documentary for French TV, Voyage au Pays de Rimbaud (1983). Feeling homesick, he returned to Iran to film The Tenants (1986), a comedy of conflict between apartment tenants and a realtor seeking to throw them out. In Hamoun (1989), a portrait of an intellectual whose life is falling apart, Mehrjui sought to depict his generation’s post-revolutionary turn from politics to mysticism. The ’90s also found Mehrjui releasing films dealing with women’s issues. Banoo (1991 released in 1998) more or less brought Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana to Iran. Sara (1993) did the same for Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Pari (1995), a transplanting of Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, attracted the attention – and the threat of a lawsuit – from the reclusive author. Leila (1996) was all Mehrjui’s own and the first to receive any sort of wide theatrical release in the West. The story of a marriage undone by infertility and a meddling mother-in-law, it earned Mehrjui raves. Outside of festivals and a career-spanning retrospective by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in late 1998, his films remain largely unseen outside Iran, an oversight that will hopefully be corrected with the passing of time.

Ali Nassirian
Esmat Safavi
Ezathallah Ramezanifar
Ezzatolah Entezami
Firouz Behjat Mohamadi
Jafar Vali
Jamshid Mashayekhi
Khosrow Shojazadeh
Mahin Shahabi
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
Parviz Fanizadeh

Title in Original Version : La Vache