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Banned in 2010 from making films for 20 years and sentenced to six years in prison for “propaganda against the system”, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, now under house arrest, has his latest film premiere at the 63rd Berlinale. Jafar Panahi secretely co-directed “Closed Curtain” with Kamboziya Partovi, a multi-layered portrayal of how restrictions on his work and movement have brought on depression and even thoughts of suicide, in what his friend and fellow filmmaker calls a very personal story.
“Dear Jafar, they want me to talk to you. They say that despite the fact that you’re not here, you’re standing here beside me, because your movie is being viewed here, and that IS you,” said Partovi.
“Mr. Panahi, you are missed here so much, we wish you were with us and we could watch the movie together. I hope next time we’ll watch it together., good bye!” said actress Maryam Moghadam.
“Closed Curtain” is set in an empty villa in Iran, presumably beside the Caspian Sea.A man, played by co-director Kamboziya Partovi, arrives with his dog, and proceeds to draw the curtains and black out the windows, sealing himself off from the world outside and preventing the authorities – real and imagined – from seeing what is happening.
When the dog accidentally switches on the television, we see footage of stray dogs being rounded up and killed, explaining why he had to be smuggled in inside a bag and kept indoors.
A young man and woman, on the run from the police, burst in and the woman stays, but her existence and that of the man becomes unclear as viewers must decide if they are fictional characters in Panahi’s
script or actual people.
The layers of reality multiply as Panahi himself arrives, and posters advertising some of his past movies are revealed beneath sheets before being covered up again.
In the allegory of Panahi’s life under house arrest and inability to workfreely, we see him walking into the sea at one point, a reference to taking his own life.
“Closed Curtain” is the second picture Panahi has made in defiance of the ban, and it remains to be seen whether the 52-year-old faces further punishment for a movie that has drawn major attention in Berlin.
The story of French sculptress Camille Claudel is almost impossibly sad, and Juliette Binoche attempts to portray that tragedy in a new film set in an asylum where the actress performs alongside mentally disabled patients.
“Camille Claudel 1915”, in competition at the Berlin film festival, depicts three days in the life of an artist who spent her last 29 years in a mental institution in southern France, confined against her will by her family.
Director Bruno Dumont set the action in 1915, because it meant Binoche’s age would coincide with that of Claudel at that time, just beginning her stay at the asylum at Montdevergues.
In the film, despair, depression and uncontrollable tears are mixed with girlish excitement at the prospect of an impending visit from her brother, Paul.
The plot builds up to their meeting, during which Camille begs him to free her.
But the pious and pompous Paul ignores both her and the head of the asylum who recommends she should return to
Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer’s new movie “Child’s Pose” is among the films competing for a Golden Bear award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
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“So far, the Berlinale has been doing pretty well. Many socio-politically committed movies are in the competition, and the quota for female filmmakers has been courteously respected. What has been missing so far are really outstanding movies, ones that are highly fancied for the Golden Bear,” says our arts maestro Wolfgang Spindler.