Sarikend: Busan Review
Iranian director Mehdi Parizad's feature-film debut parachutes a TV commercial crew into a rural village to make a sunflower oil ad.
Young Iranian filmmakers have long complained about forever living in Abbas Kiarostami's shadow, but Mehdi Parizad's premise for his first feature-length film is simply inviting viewers to revisit such comparisons.
Mirroring the auteur's 1999 film The Wind Will Carry Us – in which an impatient production team gets increasingly sucked into rural life as they await the death of a local woman – Sarikend parachutes a TV commercial crew into the Iranian-Turkish borderlands, their plans of making a sunflower oil commercial constantly thwarted by the director's seemingly unrealistic artistic vision.
By padding this main story with a parallel thread about how a widely-trasmitted tragic-romance folk tale might have been a reworked version of the real life of one of the villagers, Parizad has also trodden into Kiarostami's long-running contemplations about the divergence of reality and fiction (à la Through the Olive Trees). Failing to offer a substantial or innovative advancement of these issues – not to mention that Parizad's possibly ravishing mise-en-scene is undermined by sub-par Digi-Beta imagery – Sarikend's lifespan, even in terms of festivals and specialist programs, looks bleak beyond Busan.
At the center of Sarikend is Farhad (Faroough Mazloomi), a jaded TV commercial director who arrives at a village with a bad attitude about the trivial commission he is to do. His dismay after failing to realize his original filming plans – he had wanted to depict sunflowers turning skywards at dawn – is heightened by the fact that his affections for his producer are not returned.
His stifled desire is made to contrast that of Morad, the grumpy Turkish-born janitor who shares more than just the name of a legend about a man being robbed of his fiancée and then killed by a gendarme. But with much of the film generating either a sense of déjà vu or hand-wringing passivity, the multiple threads of the story are never really given a chance to generate emotional currency – for both characters and viewers.
New Currents, Busan International Film Festival
Director: Mehdi Parizad
Screenwriters: Hafez Khyiavi, Mehdi Parizad
Cinematographers: Rohollah Beygi, Roozbeh Jafarzadeh
Editors: Babak Shirinsefat, Seyed Ahmad Mousavi
Cast: Faroogh Mazloomi, Fathali Feizi, Farid Kashkuli
International Sales: Mehdi Parizad
In Farsi and Turkish