The Wall

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Taormina Film Festival

TAORMINA, Italy -- From Iran comes yet another gem, Mohammad Ali Talebi's simply shot, feel-good "The Wall," featuring a scene-stealing Golshifteh Farahani. A star at home, Farahani here plays Setareh, a young woman bursting with energy who abides by few of the constrictive rules that bind women to a much inferior position in Iranian society. The film is sure to attract broad arthouse audiences.

Setareh is the tomboyish daughter of a motorcycle daredevil whose claim to fame was the fairground attraction called the Wall (a large bucket-like structure, along whose walls the driver rides in a circle and parallel to the ground). He has since passed away so her brother has inherited the bike and the job, but he's not very good at it. When he breaks his foot and the family falls into even deeper financial hardship and risks eviction, Setareh starts a fruitless job hunt. She finally convinces the owner of the Wall to let her try the stunt.

She is an immediate success and soon proves herself to be even more skilled than her father. After overcoming her brother's initial resentment and her mother's fears, Setareh becomes a local star. An impresario even approaches her with the possibility of taking the show abroad, to Europe and beyond.

However, there are numerous walls in this story, the most difficult to breach being cultural. The authorities close down her act, accusing her of attracting the gaze of men simply by being a woman and doing something that no woman has ever done despite the fact that she is fully dressed and even wears her veil under her helmet.

Yet another wall is found in a story told to Setareh by her philosophy-studying best friend. A camel, a donkey and a turtle all come up against an enormous wall.. While the first two try knocking it down or scaling it, to no avail, the turtle slowly and patiently walks around it to the other side.

Whether the impatient Setareh will have the persistence to fight for her dreams makes up the third act. Like all good political films told through intimate stories, the parable goes deeper. Talebi unabashedly roots for the turtle, fully aware that the subjugation of women, like any social injustice, can only be overcome one very small step at a time.

Cast: Golshifteh Farahani, Mehrdad Sedighiyan, Mohammad Kasebi, Azita Hagiyan, Masomeh Mirhosaini. Screenwriter/Director: Mohammad Ali Talebi. Producer: Haroon Yashayaei. Director of Photography: Hosain Jafarian. Music: Mohammad Reza Aligholi. Editor: Hasan Hasandoost. 83 minutes.

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