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The Bright Day | Rooz-e Roshan (2013)|
Date of birth:
28 November 1967, Tabriz, Iran
Hossein Shahabi, Babak Mehrabi
The Bright Day • 2013
Screened at the 24th Annual Festival of Films from Iran - Chicago
“She calls out to the man on the street: Sir, can you help me?”
Thus begins "Another day in paradise", Phil Collins song that is heard in the last scene of The Bright Day, chords that return us briefly at the beginning of the film, as if to remind us that this whole story was possible because this time the stranger said Yes, I want to help (unlike the song ... He walks on, doesn't look back).
The Bright Day (written and directed by Hossein Shahabi) is an independently made Iranian film that premiered at the 31st Annual Fajr Film Festival in Tehran where it was received very well by Iranian film critics and audiences and won Awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Actor and Best Actress. Subsequently, it has done well at various international film festivals as in Chicago at the 24th Annual Festival of Films from Iran held at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
The film also won the Special Jury Prize of 28th Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina and Silver Pheasant Award and a cash prize for The Best Debut Director of the 19th International Film Festival of Kerala, India.
A school teacher named Roshan (Pantea Bahram) takes the day off to ride around Tehran running errands on this particular day. Well, the father of one of her little students, a widower with a sick mother, is standing accused of murder. Who is he accused of murdering? The son of his boss, and his boss' family is relatively powerful. Well did he do it? Not really. There were plenty of (coworker) witnesses to an argument between the accused and the deceased. But at the end of it all, the boss' son fell down the stairs, hit his head on something sharp, and ... died as a result.
He is Kiani (Mehran Ahmadi), a remiser whom a woman asks to accompany her in an anguished raid through the city of Tehran. She is Farhoudi (Pantea Bahram), a teacher who wants to prevent the father of a student from being unjustly sentenced for homicide: her mission is to convince the witnesses to testify in favor of the accused. She must prove that it was an accident and she has a few hours to achieve it. The sentence will be issued that same night.
All the action takes place inside the car and on the streets of the city, but the thing to notice here is that the drama gravitates around an incident of the past that we never witnessed and that we only access through the biased verbal allusions of the characters, a "crime scene" that mutates in our minds before each new dialogue, before each look that seeks to hide. It is the word of one against that of the other. Discussions, confessions, flat and contraplano: this is the basic design of Hossein Shahabi's debut film.
Having as its axis the confrontational dialogue and the uncontrollable repercussions produced by an elided episode, the film refers to the style of another Iranian, the director of A Separation, Asghar Farhadi. Of course, Farhadi has what precisely his colleague lacks: narrative security. The objective of Bright Day is to expose the corruption that reigns in Iran and the collaboration between economic power and the judicial system, but political denunciation ends up dissolving in the midst of the constant oscillations of the story and the parade of ill-defined characters. The target of fury is fragmented and criticism weakens by becoming too indirect.
At the same time, the richness of the film is not so much the case itself but the record of the wills that lead the subjects to surrender everything in their claim to justice. Or to choose silence, at the other extreme. It would be difficult to understand the immediate link that the remiser has with the conflict if it were not because we sense a certain attraction towards the teacher. And the same happens with her and the hidden relationship that unites her with the accused. We would like to believe that, basically, the purely ethical, rational and humanitarian gesture is possible in this world, and that these characters are simple unprotected citizens moved by a common cause ... but the film suggests otherwise. Far from all idealism, the feeling left by the film is devastating: we have nothing, except that unpredictable vehemence that only depends on individual desire. Everything else is fear. (translation from spanish by OFH)
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Similar to Asghar Farhadi's A Separation, this 2013 Iranian feature uses a daunting and oppressive federal institution as the backdrop for a complex human drama. When a man is charged with murder, his child's cunning schoolteacher (Pantea Bahram) spends an afternoon trying to convince each of the seven witnesses to come forward with information that might save him from execution. They're held back by self-interest, personal grudges, and outright fear of the judicial process, showing how an unregulated system turns common citizens against one another. The crime is never shown on screen, so one is plunged into the action and forced to decipher the information as it comes, which heightens the suspense in an otherwise talky and tedious story. (chicagoreader.com)
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Born in 1965 in Tabriz, Hossein Shahabi is a graduate of Music from Tehran University. He started his career in 2005, making a short film, Votive Offering. His other short films are Raining Tree (2007), Reflection (2009) and The Last Word (2010). Shahabi has also been involved in directing some tele-films for Iranian TV, The Photo (2005), The Shadows (2006), The Secret (2008), The Glass Night (2010) and For the Sake of Mehdi (2011), The Bright Day (2013), The Sale (2014). The Bright Day is his first feature film which was well received by Iranian film critics and audiences of the 31st Fajr Film Festival in Tehran in February 2013.
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Cast: Pantea Bahram, Mehran Ahmadi, Ronak Yoonesi, Vahid Aghapoor, Mohammadreza Alimardani, Soodabeh Beyzaee, Bahram Behbahani, Amir Reza Delavari, Amir Karbalaeezadeh, Alireza Ostadi
Selected filmography of Hossein Shahabi
- The Sale (2014)
- The Bright Day | Rooze Roshan (2013)
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