Stunning Iranian 'Baher' premieres in Cannes Film Festival 'Short Film Corner'
Mahtab Keramati in Hassan Akhondpour's Baher at Cannes Film Festival 'Short Film Corner' Courtesy of Hassan Akhondpour, reprinted with permission
Baher by Moira Jean Sullivan, accredited film critic at Festival de Cannes The world premiere of Hassan Akhondpour’s film “Baher” (Her Mind, Iran 2015) was screened on May 21 at the Cannes Film Festival “Short Film Corner”, a promising property of 24 min which the director plans to make into a feature. The "Short Film Corner" this year features over 2,000 films from over 105 countries.
"Baher" is one of the most exceptional films coming from Iran today and it is with anticipation we await its further development. Hassan Akhondpour works with dream states and the “conscious” unconscious mind in a carefully choreographed agenda populated with references to animals, the supernatural, chance occurrences, fate and alternative universes.The subject of the film is a young woman who suspects her husband is meeting another woman but it can also be interpreted that she herself is meeting this woman and all the taboos both scenarios involve. The use of animals in a stable suggests that she is one of the prizes belonging to her husband or is a kept animal, a pet. But it is the rival woman who holds the key for her and holds her captive in her dream. She pursues her, sees her everywhere and tries to run over her with a car but this mysterious woman never loses her smile and warmth towards her or changes her positive regard for her. Perhaps the woman is a version of herself as she learns to master her sense of being in the world.
In addition to this short, Akhondpour has released some extremely interesting behind the scenes videos for the making of "Baher", which are enjoyable as well as instructive. They detail live action, special effects, stunts, make up and creative editing. This intriguing mystery involves a car chase where the young woman pursues the mysterious woman in a yellow cab that takes a few wrong turns in a high speed chase. Its fun for every young filmmaker to set up such shots and we watch the crew bring it about behind the scenes. There are several recurring personalities in "Baher" with eventual meaning to the mystery and its resolution who transform into dancers, and grotesques. It is possible to imagine with this film that behind every reality and its surroundings are hidden existences that have as yet to be called upon. It is perhaps too easy to reduce the mystery into something understandable and believable. But for now, Akhondpour brings his short film to rest with his talented cast and crew.
According to the director, the Iranian woman of today has to wrestle with her peace of mind because of the complexities of her culture, economy, politics, and tradition. Because of these demands she finds herself like Ulysses in a strange land. Settling the marital score is not the easy solution this film calls for since it actually seems to question how resolving tumultuous situations to just return to safety does not bring sanity or peace. The ordeal above all has enriched the younger woman’s journey for self discovery.
Baher has a true sense of art direction and with a bigger budget, the musical score will provide a richer perspective for this young emerging director’s ambitions.