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51st Directors’ Fortnight May 15-25, 2019

Gaav / the cow

Fortnight 1971, Feature film, 100'

Synopsis

Masht Hassan owns the only cow in a remote and desolate village. He treats the cow as his own child. When he is away, his cow dies. Knowing the relationship between Masht Hassan and his cow, the villagers hastily dispose the corpse, and when Masht Hassan comes back, they tell him that his cow ran away. Masht Hassan is devastated, he starts to spend all his time in the barn, eating hay, and slowly believes that he is the cow.

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