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Iran and Central Asia Challenge (Official, July 2021)

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OldAle1
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Iran and Central Asia Challenge (Official, July 2021)

#1

Post by OldAle1 »

You Have Arrived at...
The Bestest Challenge Ever
The One You've Been Waiting 4
Since Before You'd Ever Heard of
Any of These Weird Far-Off Countries
The Official Iran/Central Asia Challenge!!!



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GOAL

Watch (and discuss, and rate, and rank, and fight about) films from Iran and Central Asia.

ELIGIBLE COUNTRIES

The map above, duh. Oh, don't like maps? Names too small and perhaps, like your host, not very bright when it comes to re-sizing stuff? Here's the list:

Afghanistan
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Georgia
Iran
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Mongolia
Tajikstan
Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan

MORE DETAILS ABOUT ELIGIBILITY - mostly written by sol, thanks

For films to qualify for this Challenge, they need to have an eligible country listed as a production country on the film's IMDb page (Soviet productions aside). If you've seen something that you strongly believe should be eligible and isn't, please submit a correction to IMDb and you can include the film as soon as IMDb accepts your correction. Films by ex-pat directors (e.g. Asghar Farhadi's Everybody Knows) are not eligible unless they meet the IMDb country listing requirement. I know it isn't ideal that I have put in hard and fast rules like this, but you wouldn't believe some of the random stuff that participants have tried to include in previous years without such guidelines in place.

Soviet Union
A number of Central Asian countries were part of the former Soviet Union and these films tend to be listed as USSR only on IMDb. For the purposes of this challenge, you can include any such films, but when listing them you must specify which modern day country they belong to. USSR on its own is not an eligible country for this challenge. That said, we have had eight USSR/Russian challenges over the past ten years in which Soviet Era films from Central Asia were eligible, so I would encourage you to explore modern output from these countries during this challenge rather than the same films that have been eligible during the past eight USSR Challenges.

Co-Productions
A number of Iranian, Central Asian and Mongolian films are co-productions with non-eligible countries. Please use some common sense to determine whether these films really represent Iranian, Central Asian or Mongolian cinema. As a general guide, a film that has both France and Iran as production countries but which is filmed in Farsi with an Iranian cast and crew is eligible; a film that has Armenia listed as a third production but is filmed in English with a mostly Anglophonic cast and crew isn't eligible. I am happy to provide advice for any borderline cases. In most cases, co-productions are eligible unless the involvement of the listed production country is insignificant (I'm thinking of Brian De Palma's Passion).

RULES
- Each feature film (over 40 minutes) counts as one entry.
- 80 minutes of short films or miniseries/TV episodes counts as one entry.
- Films must be watched one at a time and at single speed (not sped up).
- Rewatches are allowed and are good for the soul.
- Please include year of release when listing your viewings.
- Please indicate each film's country when listing your viewings otherwise your score will NOT be included in the leaderboard. Your host's preference (not required, but try to make him happy, ok?) would be for viewings to be logged as such:

Film title (original+English is good, but in any case enough so that I know what specific film you watched - it should go without saying that there are lots of films titled "Mother" for example, including multiple ones eligible for just this challenge; director(s); date; country(s) - please list all countries of production. If you don't give me enough info to know what film you watched, it will not count.

Example: و ایران ، ایران تا کنون دور / And Iran, Iran So Far Away (Omar Omarsson, 2025, Iran/Turkey/Sweden)

OFFICIAL LISTS

Iran:
Film Magazine's Best Iranian Films
Tom Vick's Asian Cinema #s 579-637

The Former Soviet Republics, Afghanistan and Mongolia:
Tom Vick's Asian Cinema #s 792-807

Kazakhstan:
UNESCO's Memory of the World #s 519-552

UNOFFICIAL LISTS

Iran:
Crystal Simorgh Award Winners
Iranian Submissions for the AA Best Foreign Film (through 2014)
Kenji's Essential Iranian Films
The Iranian Film 50
CFB Greatest Movies by Country #321-340 Iran

Armenia:
Cinema of Hayastan (Armenia) All lists in one (Armoreska)

Georgia:
Tbilisi Intermedia's 12 Best Georgian Movies of All Time

Kazakhstan:
Kenji's Kazakhstan
Cinema of Kazakhstan All Lists in One (Armoreska)

Uzbekistan:
Uzbeksitan UNESCO (Armoreska)

GENERAL:
Documentary Films of Central Asia
Central Asian Cinema According to David Cook
Melvelet's links to lists of films from each country available online with subs

More lists welcomed and needed! I will add more as I find them or am directed to them.

Most of the eligible countries for this challenge have submitted films to the Oscars and those listings can be found on Wikipedia, but they haven't been duplicated as icheckmovies lists - yet. Again, I will add them if/when they are available.

Challenge History

None for this specific challenge. I ran a challenge just for Iran in May 2019; top 3 were your humble host with 54, 72allincallme with 45, and jeroeno with 42; there were a mere 20 participants. Surely we can beat that this time!

Participants

Rank Player Total Afg Arm Azer Geo Iran Kaz Kyr Mon Taj Turk Uz
1 Armoreska 108 1 20.5 1.5 19 - - 7 1 31 2 25
2 RogerTheMovieManiac88 50 - 9 9 - - 4 9 - 9 9 1
3 OldAle1 33 1.5 1 2 1 21.5 1 1 1 1 1 1
4 sol 28 0.5 4 3.5 8 2.5 2 2 1 1.5 1 3
5 jdidaco 26 1 2 1 4 7 3 3 1 2 1 1
6 flavo5000 24 - - - - 18 4 1 - 1 - -
6 Mario Gaborović 24 - - - 1 23 - - - - - -
8 DudeLanez 18 1 - 0.5 2 12 0.5 1 1 - - -
9 Fergenaprido 16 1 2 1 1 3 3 1 1 1 1 1
10 klaus78 14 - - - - 14 - - - - - -
11 Melvelet 11 1 - 1 - 6 2 1 - - - -
11 pitchorneirda 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
13 ororama 10 - 1 - - 7 1 - 1 - - -
14 Torgo 7 - - - - 7 - - - - - -
15 AB537 4 - - - - 4 - - - - - -
16 Lu-Chin 3 - - - - 3 - - - - - -
17 blocho 2 - - - - - 1 - - 1 - -
17 hurluberlu 2 - - - - 1 1 - - - - -
17 maksler 2 - - - - - 1 1 - - - -
20 connordenney 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - -
20 Lilarcor 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - -
20 maxwelldeux 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - -
20 toromash 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- country tot 397 8 40.5 20.5 37 134 24.5 28 8 49.5 16 33


Bonus Challenge - Watch the Whole Region

Five people have completed the country-cycle as of July 31, in order
sol
jdidaco
Fergenaprido
pitchorneirda
OldAle1



*Post immediately following reserved for answers to eligibility questions*
Last edited by OldAle1 on August 1st, 2021, 8:34 pm, edited 16 times in total.
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#2

Post by OldAle1 »

Eligibility questions, concerns, and solutions space
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#3

Post by pitchorneirda »

1. Beed-e majnoon a.k.a. The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005, Iran) - 6.5/10
Last edited by pitchorneirda on July 1st, 2021, 2:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#4

Post by Fergenaprido »

Thanks for hosting Ale :)

I'm in for at least one for each country, with probably some extra focus on Kazakhstan and the other Soviet stans.

Excluding shorts, here are my current numbers for each country, and my targets for the end of the month:
Spoiler
CountrySeenGoalRemaining
Afghanistan121
Armenia253
Azerbaijan011
Georgia9101
Iran19256
Kazakhstan3107
Kyrgyzstan253
Mongolia011
Tajikistan352
Turkmenistan121
Uzbekistan253
And here are some more lists:

The Iranian Film 50
Tbilisi Intermedia's 12 Best Georgian Movies of All Time
CFB Greatest Movies by Country #321-340 Iran
Documentary Films of Central Asia - This is a 10-disc box set of about 40 films. Only 13 are on imdb thus far, so it's far from incomplete, but one of my goals is to watch all the ones I have (7 of the 10) and then add the titles to imdb once I have enough information. Mostly unofficial, but a few of the Kazakh ones are also on the UNESCO list. They're also mostly shorts.

Melvelet's also been putting together a bunch of lists of films available online (with and without subtitles): here. For this challenge, he's got all the countries except for Afghanistan and Mongolia.
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#5

Post by Melvelet »

Shouldn't the name be Iran/Central Asia/Caucasus? :P At least I wasn't aware that the Caucasus would be included in "Central Asia" :sweat:

Anyway, I'm trying to watch quite a bit of Iranian movies and an abundance of smaller countries, many of which I haven't explored yet goes well with the ravel the Word challenge. Looking forward to it :)

Anyway, here are some (imperfect, incomplete) lists of movies available online with subtitles from
Afghanistan
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Georgia
Iran
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Mongolia
Tajikistan
Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan

Currently Afghanistan and Mongolia are missing
I'm currently not at home. When I get back (12.7.) I will see if I can create availability lists for some of the general lists for these countries (and hopefully fix some of the errors in the country lists above)

EDIT: Added Afghanistan and Mongolia
Last edited by Melvelet on July 18th, 2021, 12:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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#6

Post by sol »

1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan

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When a unique-looking bra comes off a clothes line and lands on his vehicle, a train driver embarks on ambitious quest to return the bra to its rightful owner in this quirky little comedy. The film has been described as an ode to silent comedies, but without a single line of dialogue (audible or via titles), this more resembles Murnau's The Last Laugh. There are occasions in which the dialogue-free story becomes muddled, but it is all pretty fun and eccentric.
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#7

Post by pitchorneirda »

Spoiler
1. Beed-e majnoon a.k.a. The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005, Iran) - 6.5/10
2. Shiza a.k.a. Fifty-Fifty (Gulshat Omarova, 2004, Kazakhstan) - 6/10
Last edited by pitchorneirda on July 1st, 2021, 11:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#8

Post by Mario Gaborović »

01. Circumstance (2011) - Iran
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#9

Post by pitchorneirda »

Spoiler
1. Beed-e majnoon a.k.a. The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005, Iran) - 6.5/10
2. Shiza a.k.a. Fifty-Fifty (Gulshat Omarova, 2004, Kazakhstan) - 6/10
3. Boz salkyn a.k.a. Pure Coolness (Ernest Abdyljaparov, 2007, Kyrgyzstan) - 4/10

Good story, but a bit generic and the visuals are ugly (because of the digital camera that has no grain at all I suppose) and the acting is horrible
Last edited by pitchorneirda on July 3rd, 2021, 7:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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#10

Post by DudeLanez »

1. Zamani barayé masti asbha (A Time for Drunken Horses, 2000, Ghobadi, Iran) 7/10
Iran and Central Asia Challenge
1. Zamani barayé masti asbha (A Time for Drunken Horses, 2000, Ghobadi, Iran) 7/10
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#11

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia

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Known for disappearing fully into the roles he plays (and neglecting his friends and family in the process), an esteemed method actor suddenly finds himself able to literally inhabit other people's bodies in this curious comedy from Armenia. The plot takes a while to warm up and it is initially confusing at first as to what exactly is going on, but there much amusement once things become clear. Michael Poghosian is excellent as the self-obsessed protagonist too.
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#12

Post by Mario Gaborović »

02. Bad ma ra khahad bord (1999) - Iran
Spoiler
01. Circumstance (2011) - Iran
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#13

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia

Image

Her kiosk removed without notice, a middle aged woman fights bureaucratic red tape as she tries to get her kiosk back here. Not only is the kiosk her sole source of income, it is where she lives, and at its best the film feels downright Kafkaesque with various government department shuffling her around and unable to give her a straight answer. At its weakest, the film focuses on the cruelty of the local mayor and others, most of which feels over-the-top.
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#14

Post by Lilarcor »

Thanks for hosting OldAle!

The films by Jamshed Usmonov are worth a watch for Tajikistan, my personal favorite is Angel on the Right (2002).

1. Zire darakhatan zeyton / Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami, 1994) 8/10 Iran
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#15

Post by hurluberlu »

1. Ayka (Sergei Dvortsevoy, 2018) [Kazakhstan] 6+
Last edited by hurluberlu on July 3rd, 2021, 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#16

Post by Fergenaprido »

1. Nema-ya Nazdik [Close-Up] (1990 IRN Kiarostami) - 7.5ish - I was hoping I I would like this more, given it's on 20 lists. I am interested in reading more about the original incident, at least. I prioritized this one for the challenge because I was considering it for the Red Planet Films poll (shameless plug :lol: ) but I think I prefer other Iranian films in its place, like Salaam Cinema (incidentally by Makhmalbaf, the director who was impersonated here). Blurring the line between fact and fiction, it feels way more fiction than non-fiction to me, aside from the last few minutes. Still, it was a good film overall, and a nice start to this month's regional tour.
Tracking my own progress on personal goals
CountryPre-ChallengeDuring ChallengeGoalRemaining
Afghanistan121
Armenia253
Azerbaijan011
Georgia9101
Iran191255
Kazakhstan3107
Kyrgyzstan253
Mongolia011
Tajikistan352
Turkmenistan121
Uzbekistan253
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#17

Post by pitchorneirda »

Spoiler
1. Beed-e majnoon a.k.a. The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005, Iran) - 6.5/10
2. Shiza a.k.a. Fifty-Fifty (Gulshat Omarova, 2004, Kazakhstan) - 6/10
3. Boz salkyn a.k.a. Pure Coolness (Ernest Abdyljaparov, 2007, Kyrgyzstan) - 4/10
4. Natvris khe a.k.a. The Wishing Tree (Tengiz Abuladze, 1976, Georgia) - 6/10

An archetypal war of the old conservative world vs. the new progressive world in pre-revolutionary Georgia...it was good but I think I expected a bit more lyrism. And it could have taken itself more seriously, there are a few "comic reliefs" but it goes full drama later on, I think it would have worked way better full drama all along.
Last edited by pitchorneirda on July 3rd, 2021, 11:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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#18

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia
4. Sib (1998) Iran

Image

Inspired by actual events, this Iranian drama focuses on two sisters whose father has long kept them locked up. The film feels like a documentary at times with down-to-earth performances due to director Samira Makhmalbaf having convinced the actual sisters and father to act here, and while the villain of the piece, it is easy to see why the father would have been happy to appear in her film. Makhmalbaf never quite exonerates him, but lets him speak his mind.
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#19

Post by pitchorneirda »

Spoiler
1. Beed-e majnoon a.k.a. The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005, Iran) - 6.5/10
2. Shiza a.k.a. Fifty-Fifty (Gulshat Omarova, 2004, Kazakhstan) - 6/10
3. Boz salkyn a.k.a. Pure Coolness (Ernest Abdyljaparov, 2007, Kyrgyzstan) - 4/10
4. Natvris khe a.k.a. The Wishing Tree (Tengiz Abuladze, 1976,Georgia) - 6/10
5. Nabat (Elchin Musaoglu, 2014, Azerbaijan) - 7.5/10

Wow. Belongs to slow cinema, which definitely worked with me. Nabat is the name of the woman who soon becomes the only inhabitant left in her village, everybody fleeing the war. Minimalistic plot but so many emotions conveyed by the cinematography. I participate in challenges for this.
"Art is like a fire, it is born from the very thing it burns" - Jean-Luc Godard
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#20

Post by maxwelldeux »

1. Crimson Gold (2003, Iran) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371280/

I thought I had seen more Panahi than I actually have - this is only my second of his. Really liked the commentary on class and social standing in Iran, but ultimately, I didn't connect with the main character enough, and I think it was because too much focus was put on other people early in the film. Still a solid watch.
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#21

Post by pitchorneirda »

Spoiler
1. Beed-e majnoon a.k.a. The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005, Iran) - 6.5/10
2. Shiza a.k.a. Fifty-Fifty (Gulshat Omarova, 2004, Kazakhstan) - 6/10
3. Boz salkyn a.k.a. Pure Coolness (Ernest Abdyljaparov, 2007, Kyrgyzstan) - 4/10
4. Natvris khe a.k.a. The Wishing Tree (Tengiz Abuladze, 1976,Georgia) - 6/10
5. Nabat (Elchin Musaoglu, 2014, Azerbaijan) - 7.5/10
6. Syngué sabour, pierre de patience a.k.a. The Patience Stone (Atiq Rahimi, 2012, Afghanistan) - 1.5/10

I just can't describe how much I hated this movie full of pathos and miserabilism. It's probably the worst tearjerker I've seen in 20 years with cheap sentiments and cheap feminist takes.
"Art is like a fire, it is born from the very thing it burns" - Jean-Luc Godard
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#22

Post by wasabi »

Melvelet wrote: July 1st, 2021, 7:27 am Shouldn't the name be Iran/Central Asia/Caucasus? :P At least I wasn't aware that the Caucasus would be included in "Central Asia" :sweat:

Anyway, I'm trying to watch quite a bit of Iranian movies and an abundance of smaller countries, many of which I haven't explored yet goes well with the ravel the Word challenge. Looking forward to it :)

Anyway, here are some (imperfect, incomplete) lists of movies available online with subtitles from
Spoiler
Currently Afghanistan and Mongolia are missing
I'm currently not at home. When I get back (12.7.) I will see if I can create availability lists for some of the general lists for these countries (and hopefully fix some of the errors in the country lists above)
Thanks. I had hard time finding Georgia films, and these are really helpful!
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#23

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia
4. Sib (1998) Iran
5. 247°F (2011) Georgia

Image

Four years before the impressive Landmine Goes Click, Levan Bakhia made his directing debut with this single-location style thriller about three friends trapped in a sauna. It is a nifty idea, however, Bakhia never quite milks the premise for all that it is worth. Half an hour elapses before the trio becomes stuck, and none of this build-up is used to create relatable or sympathetic characters. Once they get trapped and panic sets in though, the film works.
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#24

Post by jdidaco »

Thank you for hosting, OldAle!

(Screenshot from 'Det Yani Dokhtar'),

1. Det Yani Dokhtar (Det Means Girl, Abolfazl Jalili, 1995) 8/10 (Iran)
2. Bazi (Play, Gholam Reza Ramezani, 2005) 7/10 (Iran)
3. Chemi sabnis naketsi (A Fold in My Blanket, Zaza Rusadze, 2013) 7/10 (Georgia)
4. Lass den Sommer nie wieder kommen (Let the Summer Never Come Again, Aleksandre Koberidze, 2017) 9/10 (Georgia)

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#25

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia
4. Sib (1998) Iran
5. 247°F (2011) Georgia
6. Fellini (2000) Uzbekistan

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A cinema lover invites an esteemed director to make a movie in town, but the production soon spirals out of control in this semi-surreal comedy. The film is titled after the protagonist's nickname but the whole thing feels Felliniesque. There are some very striking visuals too that bring Juraj Herz to mind with fish-eye lens shots plus a very unusual colour scheme of pronounced purples and yellows. Less successful are the film's attempts at character development.
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#26

Post by klaus78 »

1. Dayereh [The Circle] (Iran 2000) 7/10
2. Gaav [The Cow] (Iran 1969) 7/10
3. Badkonake sefid [The White Balloon] (Iran 1995) 8/10
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#27

Post by Torgo »

pitchorneirda wrote: July 3rd, 2021, 5:10 pm 6. Syngué sabour, pierre de patience a.k.a. The Patience Stone (Atiq Rahimi, 2012, Afghanistan) - 1.5/10

I just can't describe how much I hated this movie full of pathos and miserabilism. It's probably the worst tearjerker I've seen in 20 years with cheap sentiments and cheap feminist takes.
That's the curse of slating: it evokes more interest than any reviews in the range of 5/10 to 7/10 could ..
The film was directed by author Atiq Rahimi himself who adapted one of his books for the second time, if that's of interest for our readers. Golshifteh Farahani is quite the name.
I will keep an eye out for the film and try to remember you, pitch. :D
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#28

Post by pitchorneirda »

Spoiler
1. Beed-e majnoon a.k.a. The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005, Iran) - 6.5/10
2. Shiza a.k.a. Fifty-Fifty (Gulshat Omarova, 2004, Kazakhstan) - 6/10
3. Boz salkyn a.k.a. Pure Coolness (Ernest Abdyljaparov, 2007, Kyrgyzstan) - 4/10
4. Natvris khe a.k.a. The Wishing Tree (Tengiz Abuladze, 1976,Georgia) - 6/10
5. Nabat (Elchin Musaoglu, 2014, Azerbaijan) - 7.5/10
6. Syngué sabour, pierre de patience a.k.a. The Patience Stone (Atiq Rahimi, 2012, Afghanistan) - 1.5/10
7. Die Höhle des gelben Hundes a.k.a. The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Byambasuren Davaa, 2005, Mongolia) - 5/10

There's a super cute dog, and some bits of buddhist wisdom. Not enough to last 93 minutes I'm afraid.
Last edited by pitchorneirda on July 24th, 2021, 7:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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#29

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Early scoring up - I'll start breaking it down into countries on Monday or Tuesday. I can't think of a really valuable and interesting 2nd bonus challenge that would be really easy for me to implicate offhand - too lazy to want to make more work for myself :lol: so I will probably skip that, unless I get a great suggestion from somebody in the next couple of days.
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#30

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1. Gilane (Mohsen Abdolvahab/Rakshan Banietemad, 2005) IRAN

I've seen 6 previous feature-length films from Banietemad, all of which I liked, with her 2002 documentary Our Times being pretty close to brilliant, so I looked forward to this quite a bit. Alas it didn't live up to the earlier work for me, though some of that could have to do with the noticeably poor copies available. This was shot in 2.35 but the copy I had looked to be about 1.5-1.6: 1; there was an online copy with a more accurate AR but it was really fuzzy and either unsubbed or with very poor auto-subs, so I watched the copy I had. This is very much a film where landscape matters, so this was problematic, but I'm not sure I'd have loved this in any case. It's a very simple story, almost a "Waiting for Godot" piece but without the existentialist underpinnings; a mother's love for her son, and waiting for something to happen to make things better, basically. It's two parts - first, during the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, the mother and her daughter head from their relatively safe little village by bus to look for the daughter's husband, while the mother all the while is more concerned with her son who is at war; in the second part, 15 years later, the aging mother is caring for her disabled, war-shattered son, and waiting for his would-be bride to return, something that is clearly not going to happen. Something here just didn't gel for me; for one thing it felt at times like propaganda for traditional maternal attitudes, and it's very short (80 minutes) given the fairly complex emotional tapestry that I think it's trying to weave involving guilt and responsibility, and relationships between mothers and daughters vs mothers and sons. It's not bad, but it just didn't add up to a whole lot.

2. Shabhaye roshan / White Nights (Farzad Motamen, 2003) IRAN

Much better is this (uncredited) adaptation of a Dostoevsky short story, set in Tehran in winter, beautifully shot and giving a magical feeling to the cold, clear, vertical characteristics of the city. A lonely, friendless, misanthropic and unnamed professor (Mehdi Ahmadi), whose only joy in life is his large book collection, meets Roya, a young woman (Hanie Tavassoli) who is hoping to meet her lover. The man never arrives, but Roya tells the professor that he has four nights to meet her and this is only the first chance. She has no place to go, so the professor puts her up in his apartment, and gradually falls in love with her - though always in a very distanced, cerebral way until the end. It's nearly all talking about love and philosophy and poetry (there are loads of poems referenced or read, and if I knew the language I'm sure I'd get more of the context, though it certainly doesn't seem necessary) as the two sit at his table, or walk around the dark, largely deserted city at night. I found it all rather enchanting but I'd imagine many would find it utterly dull.
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#31

Post by pitchorneirda »

Torgo wrote: July 4th, 2021, 1:06 pm
pitchorneirda wrote: July 3rd, 2021, 5:10 pm 6. Syngué sabour, pierre de patience a.k.a. The Patience Stone (Atiq Rahimi, 2012, Afghanistan) - 1.5/10

I just can't describe how much I hated this movie full of pathos and miserabilism. It's probably the worst tearjerker I've seen in 20 years with cheap sentiments and cheap feminist takes.
That's the curse of slating: it evokes more interest than any reviews in the range of 5/10 to 7/10 could ..
The film was directed by author Atiq Rahimi himself who adapted one of his books for the second time, if that's of interest for our readers. Golshifteh Farahani is quite the name.
I will keep an eye out for the film and try to remember you, pitch. :D
I see you checked Capharnaüm. They're not the same film and it's maybe dangerous to compare them, but if you loved Capharnaüm you might like Syngue Sabour too.
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#32

Post by Mario Gaborović »

03. Nassereddin Shah, Actor-e Cinema (1992) - Iran
04. Ayneh (1997) - Iran
Spoiler
01. Circumstance (2011) - Iran
02. Bad ma ra khahad bord (1999) - Iran
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#33

Post by RogerTheMovieManiac88 »

Thanks to OldAle for hosting!

I've been eagerly anticipating this one all year. I may jot down a few thoughts on films that don't have entries on MUBI or IMDb - a bit as I did last month with the One Film From Each Year Challenge. Thoughts, take-aways, impressions as they come to me will mainly be noted down over on my MUBI profile (https://mubi.com/users/7366554), as long as the film has an entry on the site - entries for Central Asia and the Caucasus seem rather haphazard and disjointed across the various databases...

I'm starting out with a selection of five films from Azerbaijan.

(Screenshots from 'Gün Keçdi' and 'Sahilsiz gece')

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1. Almaz (1936, Grigoriy Braginsky, Aga-Rza Kuliyev) - 7/10
2. Asl dost / Real Friend (1959, Tofig Taghizade) - 6.5 or 7/10
3. Möcüzälär adasi / There is Such an Island (1964, Hasan Seyidbayli) - 6/10
Seyidbayli's film is focused on oil work on huge structures in the Caspian Sea and the romances of workers in their down-time. The inter-connected extensiveness of the navigable pontoons snaking out over the sea looks good in widescreen, but the romantic stodginess didn't really draw me to all that much of this. I was reminded in a way of big American films such as 'Hellfighters' - although this isn't a disaster/emergency film.
4. Gün Keçdi / The Day Passed (1971, Arif Babayev) - 9 or 9.5/10
5. Sahilsiz gece / Night Without End (1989, Shahmar Alakbarov) - 7/10
This look at a lonely, aging woman remembering her past benefits from the simple, unadorned minimalism of her pottering and shuffling about in her courtyard and dreaming fitfully of those years long ago. There is a melancholia here and she experiences youth vicariously through her awareness of a local boy's romance with a girl - being gently bribed by the youngster to not speak to others. The colour and vibrancy to the flashbacks (ice-cream, lipstick, hairstyles, outfits, a sisterhood) is contrasted rather effectively with the slow-paced solitude that she contends with as she ages. A small but touching film.

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Last edited by RogerTheMovieManiac88 on July 8th, 2021, 6:44 am, edited 4 times in total.
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#34

Post by Torgo »

pitchorneirda wrote: July 4th, 2021, 5:08 pm I see you checked Capharnaüm. They're not the same film and it's maybe dangerous to compare them, but if you loved Capharnaüm you might like Syngue Sabour too.
Ah, I guess I see where you're coming from. Indeed I saw Caph and thought it was alright, although a pretty naive film and I could totally see the dismissive reviews if it came from anywhere in "the West". I don't support its huge success tbh. Give me any Asghar Farhadi over this any day ..
But Earth And Ashes might be something I could check out one day, so still thanks for pointing us into the direction :sweat:
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#35

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Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia
4. Sib (1998) Iran
5. 247°F (2011) Georgia
6. Fellini (2000) Uzbekistan
7. Bo Ba Bu (1998) Uzbekistan

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Stranded in the middle of the Uzbek desert, a young blonde woman is rescued by two shepherds in this black comedy that plays out without any dialogue other than grunts and the occasional monosyllable word. The whole thing feels more primal without whole sentence dialogue, and aptly so given how the shepherds end up governed by their most base desires without thought for the woman's feelings and rights. The film has some catchy boing-like music too.
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#36

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia
4. Sib (1998) Iran
5. 247°F (2011) Georgia
6. Fellini (2000) Uzbekistan
7. Bo Ba Bu (1998) Uzbekistan
8. Karakum (1994) Turkmenistan

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When their truck becomes stuck in the desert, a Turkmen boy and a German teen try to find a solution in this adventure film. There is a lot to like in how the two youths work together to solve their problem despite being unable to talk in the same language. A pesky goat also provides comic relief as it keeps drinking their dwindling water supply. The film is never that intense though since there is a lot of cutting away to the teen's father searching for them.
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#37

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia
4. Sib (1998) Iran
5. 247°F (2011) Georgia
6. Fellini (2000) Uzbekistan
7. Bo Ba Bu (1998) Uzbekistan
8. Karakum (1994) Turkmenistan
9. Stray Dogs (2004) Afghanistan

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Their father imprisoned as a Taliban extremist and their mother imprisoned on adultery charges, a brother and sister try to fend for themselves on the streets of Kabul in this grim but gripping drama. The title ostensibly comes from a dog who they rescue, but metaphorically the kids are stray dogs too with nobody to look after them as both parents are locked up. As the siblings become set on getting sent to jail, this becomes very harrowing and intense stuff.
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#38

Post by sol »

Central Asia
1. The Bra (2018) Azerbaijan
2. Lorik (2018) Armenia
3. Hers (2017) Mongolia
4. Sib (1998) Iran
5. 247°F (2011) Georgia
6. Fellini (2000) Uzbekistan
7. Bo Ba Bu (1998) Uzbekistan
8. Karakum (1994) Turkmenistan
9. Stray Dogs (2004) Afghanistan
10. True Noon (2009) Tajikistan

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Two neighbouring villages are abrupt cut off from one another when soldiers set up a barb wire border in this compelling drama set in the months immediately following Tajikistan's independence from the Soviet Union. The whole situation feels very Kafkaesque with the locals given a mere thirty minutes to decide where they want to be, while landmines are placed near the border to ensure that locals only pass through a designated checkpoint.
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#39

Post by Melvelet »

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Pictured: Davandeh (1984) AKA The Runner, 8+/10

1. Dah 2002 — a.k.a. Ten (Iran) 6/10
Certainly feels different from Kiarostami's 90s works (but of course there's even more car driving than usually if that was even possible) and I'm sort of lacking the feeling of profoundness that his best works induce. It does have all the ingredients that a lot of the internationally successful Iranian movies have: car rides (although there's deliberately no landscapes this time), a documentary feeling (the lo-fi digital video looks both cheap and curiously experimental at the same time but I'm not entirely sure if I really liked it), critique of women's role in the society, a child (indeed the only male characters on screen, the future generation of the chauvinist patriarchs who probably didn't come up with it themselves)
I see its significance (that put it inside TSPDT) but prefer Panahi's Taxi which uses a similar (but less radical) setup, maybe because the conversations were more interesting.

2. Beshkempir 1998 — a.k.a. The Adopted Son (Kyrgyzstan) 7/10
A baby gets found and adopted by people in a Kyrgyz village. He grows up, has fun doing nonsense with his friends, fights with his friends who reveal his past to him. He fights with his father, has a crush on a girl and one of his friends even owns a bicycle to impress a different girl (he removes the luggage rack so the girl has to sit in front of him instead of behind). Most of the movie is in b&w with almost random parts (usually involving animals) filmed in colour. Overall a pleasant Coming of Age movie if nothing groundbreaking.

3. Bacheha-Ye aseman 1997 — a.k.a. Children of Heaven (Iran) 7/10
Children from a poor family are forced set on an adventure to with a slightly banal sounding task. Yep, that's something that can be said about a lot of Iranian movies and so far none of these movies has disappointed. This one reminds me most of The White Balloon but the children have to reclaim the lost shoes of the sister instead of the bank note, even their house/backyard looks very similar, with some goldfish inside

4. Davandeh 1984 — a.k.a. The Runner (Iran) 8+/10
And here I have my first real winner. My third Iranian movie this month, again with a child protagonist. While all the plots were driven by the fact that the children didn't want to involve their parents in fear of getting them angry, Amiro simply doesn't have any relatives and lives on the street, trying to make a dime to survive and an extra dime to have some fun in life with the other street kids. His jobs include selling reusable junk from the landfill and empty bottles that come drifting in from the sea, being a shoeshine, selling ice-cooled water at the docks, etc. And there's always someone around who might steal from you or trying to rip you off. While this could be the setup for some poverty porn, it achieves a good balance between the misery and the moments of joy and optimistic longing for something greater, overall possibly leaning more towards the latter. His home is a ship wreck on a ship graveyard, a very poor person's place to live but simultaneously there's something cool about this home he has built himself, almost like a private fortress.
The backdrop of the city is dominated by the seaport and the airport, both offering an unachievable promise to get away for the boy who is fascinated by the ships and the planes. We never hear Amiro talk about getting away though, it's not about where he could go (the countries behind all these flags on the ships that they don't recognize), not even so much about the getting away part (although he will take other steps in that direction), it's mostly about the vehicles that would take you there. He spends his little extra money on foreign magazines with pictures of planes. He can't read them but he couldn't read them even in his native Farsi, it's about the pictures although it starts bothering him that he can't read what is written about them.
And he runs, after trains, after other boys, after people trying to rip him off, sometimes a bit further just to see how far he can get. In the end there's a spontaneous competition, the most glorious scene of the film, set inside a fiery industrial hell, where eliminating the opponents is just as important as arriving at the goal and where a prize will melt away in your hands.
The HD restoration makes the cinematography shine (let's hope for Naderi's next feature, Aab, baad, khaak, to find a similar fate), while the soundtrack filled with industrial noises becomes hypnotic at times.
Highly recommended, I'll do my best to get it on the 500<400 this time, it just missed out by a few spots.

5. Ayneh 1997 — a.k.a. The Mirror (Iran) 8/10
After The White Balloon, Kiarostami's former assistant director Jafar Panahi again makes a film around the same little girl who tried to get a lost bank note back in his previous effort. This time her task her seemingly trivial task is getting home after her mother doesn't pick her up from school. The first 30 minutes are wonderfully minimalist, lots of riding in/on vehicles, not a lot of relevant dialogue, with a headstrong girl who thinks she sort of knows here to go but who really doesn't. Her voice does get annoying pretty quickly to be honest. Then the movies shifts to something as meta as Iranian cinema gets (and they sure love that). As with 'Taxi' roughly 2 decades later, Panahi makes it hard to distinguish between what is documentary or whether we're only seeing fiction here. I have a hard time saying something more substantial, especially without spoilers (and maybe also not if I did spoiler) but it's a joy to watch as an art loving cinephile and it's deserving of its high rank in our Hidden Gems poll.
Current recommendation: Davandeh (1984) AKA The Runner


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#40

Post by sol »

Melvelet wrote: July 6th, 2021, 9:28 am 2. Beshkempir 1998 — a.k.a. The Adopted Son (Kyrgyzstan) 7/10
A baby gets found and adopted by people in a Kyrgyz village. He grows up, has fun doing nonsense with his friends, fights with his friends who reveal his past to him. He fights with his father, has a crush on a girl and one of his friends even owns a bicycle to impress a different girl (he removes the luggage rack so the girl has to sit in front of him instead of behind). Most of the movie is in b&w with almost random parts (usually involving animals) filmed in colour. Overall a pleasant Coming of Age movie if nothing groundbreaking.
Just watched this myself and I agree about the randomness of the colour parts. I think I would have preferred for the whole thing to be only black-and-white. The colour parts were just jarring to me, especially given how infrequent they were. The random colour thing can of course work wonders (I'm thinking Solyaris) but here it simply got on my nerves.
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