Among the multitude of genres and forms that the Cannes Film Festival honors, a feature film by two Iranians, Ali Asghari and Alireza Khatami. Terrestrial Poems, stands out from the lot. Extreme simplicity. A unique device: nine characters shot in front of the camera, in a fixed sequence, address an agent of the Iranian administration placed behind the camera, whose voice we hear. Every exchange reveals an element of absurdity – dear to Iranian cinema – the tone-deaf dialogues, the endless negotiations, the lame answers.
Comedy repeats itself and exposes the failure of a system that serves no other purpose than to control and enslave. Here is a man who comes to announce the birth of his son, to whom we refuse to attribute the name of David; The student was summoned by the principal on the pretext that she was seen riding a scooter with a boy; A young taxi driver protests the fine for not wearing a veil…
The nine men, women and children in the parade reflect the incongruity of the situations that the Iranian authorities face on a daily basis. And from what the two directors tell us, they are in Cannes for the presentation of their film no doubt. Alireza Khatami lives in Toronto (Canada), Ali Asgar lives in Tehran.
How was the “Poems of the Earth” project born?
Alireza Khatami: We met each other in Venice in 2017 and then wrote several screenplays together, one of which was shot by Ali. [Juste une nuit, sorti en France en novembre 2022]. Last summer, Ali was scheduled to shoot another film in Iran, which the government did not allow. Therefore, we decided, despite everything that we ourselves experienced with the authorities and everything that our relatives wanted us to do, to quickly make a film on this topic. But for what we had to say, we had to find a form that escaped censorship and the authorities.
How exactly was this form decided?
ax. : At night we talked and read many poems. Now in Persian poetry there is a technique called debate. where two people discuss a specific topic. Every time we talk about a political or social subject. There is, often overlooked, a lot of humor in most of these poems. So we told ourselves that we were going to adapt the structure of these poems and make it cinematic.
Did you have nine stories right away?
Ali Asghar: We had fifteen stories and we selected nine. It was very important to find the inner rhythm. That it is not just skeins attached to each other, but is a movement, a stream which connects them. We didn’t want to give the impression of a catalog of short films.
Source: Le Monde
Ben Stock is a writer at Run Down Bulletin. With a finger on the pulse of the latest entertainment news, Ben provides in-depth coverage of the movies, music, and television shows that are capturing the world’s attention.