Iranian officials are protesting the Berlin International Film Festival for awarding Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi’s “Closed Curtain” with best screenplay; Panahi is currently under house arrest in the Islamic republic and banned from making films for 20 years.
Fittingly, his movie portrays a group of people trapped in a villa, evading government authorities.
“We have protested to the Berlin film festival organisers,” Iranian cinema chief and deputy culture minister Javad Shamaqdari told the ISNA news agency. “We believe that the Berlin fest organisers should correct their behaviour. Everyone knows that making a film and sending it outside the country needs permission.” He added that, “Making these films is illegal, but so far the Islamic republic has shown patience towards such illegal acts.”
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A personal anecdote, if you’ll permit me: during one point in my college years, I was deemed angst-ridden enough to warrant not only twice-a-week therapy sessions, but also attendance at a weekly group for people similarly angst-ridden. It was during this period—and this is certainly unfortunate timing—that I watched Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 film Persona, the haunting tale of a cheerful nurse, played by Bibi Andersson, and her selectively mute ward, played by Liv Ullman, whose personalities begin to blend together in sinister, mysterious ways. I was just as captivated by the stark cinematography of Bergman’s longtime collaborator, Sven Nykvist, as I was by the existential struggle of Ullman’s character, an actress who has lost her luster for role-playing on stage and in life. It seemed as if a speech delivered by a psychiatrist early in the film (which contains such maudlin gems as “The hopeless dream of being—not seeming, but being”) was somehow meant just for me. I regaled the other group members with the lessons I had learned from watching the movie, using Bergman’s bleak rationales as a counter-argument to the group therapist’s insistence that we all try to lead happier, more productive lives. A few days later, my individual psychologist told me that the group therapist had called her because she was “concerned” about me.
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Every week, our critics tell us about the books, TV shows, and films that set their minds racing. As you settle into your weekend, in pursuit of good stories, here’s a recap of their most essential picks for what to watch and read:
Laura Miller can not put down James Lasdun’s haunting memoir, “Give Me Everything You Have,” which recounts being stalked by a former protégé:
“In his remarkable 2002 novel, ‘The Horned Man,’ an academic estranged from his wife goes quietly mad while serving on his college’s sexual harassment committee, imagining that the department’s most legendary womanizer is secretly living in his office and sabotaging his life. Take a writer like this, one who specializes in the surreal, inward spiraling of paranoia, and make him the target of a clever stalker: It sounds like the premise of a James Lasdun novel, right? However, ‘Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked,’ Lasdun’s new book, is not a novel, but a memoir.”
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