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Date of birth:
25 July 1962, Tehran, Iran
Azarakhsh Farahani, Siavash Asadi
Malaria • Movie review
Winner of Grand Prix at Warsaw International Film Festival
A traditional tale about societal pressures told through modern technology. Malaria by Iranian director Parviz Shahbazi was awarded the Grand Prix at the 32nd Warsaw International Film Festival, which drew to a close Saturday in the Polish capital.
A young girl informs her father she’s been kidnapped and asks him to bring the ransom money. Panicked, her father and brothers go to Tehran to look for her. Malaria concerns the relationship between young couple Hanna (Saghar Ghanaat) and Murry (Saed Soheili), who have eloped to escape the wrath of Hanna’s abusive father.
The entire sequence is filmed from Hanna’s perspective, with the entire frame surrounded in darkness with the exception of a horizontal jagged shaft of light in the centre, with the only visual spatial cues provided by dialogue, namely Azi’s intense dialogue with Hanna’s father and brother. This stylistic decision is not only visually unique but also underlines the desperation of Hanna’s situation as well as representing the constrictive nature of the social restrictions she faces as a young woman in Iran. This last issue is further reflected in the various obstacles that Hanna and Murry have to face throughout the film. The couple are refused a hotel room because as an unmarried couple they are not allowed to travel together or to share the same room without authorisation, forcing them to sleep in a factory and later an abandoned house.
These repressive societal factors, as well as Hanna’s own familial pressures, are underlined in her climactic speech delivered to her iPhone camera, which when placed within a wider context serves as a tragic reflection of the restrictions placed on women in contemporary Iranian society.
Shahbazi combines this use of smartphone technology with a semi-improvisational style to create a sense of intimacy that allows for a more naturalistic sense of chemistry between the main actors, enabling Hanna and Murry’s relationship to feel more realistic compared with a more traditional scripted approach.
Selected filmography of Parviz Shahbazi
- Malaria (2016)
- Trapped - Darband (2013)
- karat 14 (2009)
- Deep Breath | Nafas-e amigh (2003)
- Whispers (2000)
- Traveller from the South (1997)
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