Art And Culture

Bani-Etemad's 'Tales' Wins at Venice

Bani-Etemad's 'Tales' Wins at Venice
Bani-Etemad's 'Tales' Wins at Venice

Rakshhan Bani-Etemad's 'Tales' won the award for best screenplay in the competition section of the 71st International Venice Film Festival in Italy.

Bani-Etemad noted that it is an "immense present to all Iranians who love cinema." The well-known director also pointed out that she believes film is a medium that brings all people together.

"It’s true that the questions we are dealing with are Iranian, but they are also global," she told Reuters in an interview in Venice, where her film received excellent reviews. She expressed hope that wider circulation for 'Tales' will help people inside and outside the region to understand one another better.

People's Struggle

'Tales' was one of the 20 movies that competed for the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion Prize. Screened on the second day of the festival, 'Tales' is a series of fictional vignettes set among struggling residents of Tehran. The movie portrays the harm done to ordinary people by the unfair Western-imposed sanctions on the country's civilian nuclear program. 

"The economic situation in Iran is critical, and this is due to the embargo, which actually penalized the people in the country. I would really like to see these embargoes lifted", Bani-Etemad said earlier at a news conference.

The movie depicts the problems and misery of different sections of the society. Times are tough as jobs are scarce, prices are high and drug addiction claims the lives of many young people. Stories of indebted cabbies, impoverished pensioners, and unemployed factory workers are narrated.

"Children who suffer from very severe diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis are suffering from the consequences of the embargo", she added. "Someone has to give an answer to the Iranian people."

Focus on Women

'Tales', similar to other movies made by Bani-Etemad, has a strong focus on women with characters, ranging from pensioners to doctors and staff at a women's shelter.

Bani-Etemad (born in 1954) is an internationally and critically acclaimed director and screenwriter. Her movies have been praised at global festivals and are remarkably popular among Iranian critics and audiences. In her works, she aims to reflect the realities of people’s daily life experiences, especially women.

Her 2001 film 'Under the Skin of the City' was an entry at the 23rd Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) where it won the Special Golden St. George. The following year she was a jury member at the 24th MIFF.

'Tales' experienced normal production difficulties but the director now is basking in its success. It is due for local release in the fall.

Other Winners

Swedish director Roy Andersson’s 'A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence', an absurdist picture consisting of intersecting beautifully composed vignettes, won the 71st Venice Golden Lion.

'Pigeon' is “the final part of a trilogy on being a human being,” in the words of the cult director known to cinephiles for his sophisticated comic absurdity. The previous two installments are “Songs From the Second Floor” and “You, the Living.”

Alejandro G. Inarritu’s 'Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance', top lining Michael Keaton, which opened the fest to great acclaim, prompting Oscars buzz, was noticeably snubbed.

Adam Driver took the best actor award for his role as a young father in New York worried about his young child’s nutritional regime in Italian director Saverio Costanzo’s dark and topical 'Hungry Hearts'. The film marks the first lead role for Driver, who is in Toronto, where 'Hungry' also screens. He did not make the trek to the Lido.

'Hungry Hearts', which is centered around new age nutritional ways, natural birthing techniques, and different takes on whether children should take antibiotics, also scooped the best actress nod for Italy’s Alba Rohrwacher who plays Mina, an Italian woman who obsesses about the same young child’s food regimen. The jury clearly thought they have great chemistry in this potent English-language parenthood drama.

The Silver Lion went to Russian maestro Andrei Konchalovsky’s “The Postman’s White Nights,” a drama rooted in the reality of a remote lakeside Russian village about a charismatic postman who is the locals’ sole connection to the outside world. Featuring a largely non-pro cast, the film is a mix of a feature and documentary.