Daily Archives: October 25, 2002


Also known as Memory and Memorandum, this 2001 documentary by Mostafa Razzagh Karimi and Mojalal Varahram about the geography, history, and diverse cultures of Iran proceeds without narration or dialogue. It certainly offers an eyeful (as well as an earful, considering the striking music score), though there are times when one feels a propagandistic tourisman all-too-official rubber stamp of approvalcalling some of the shots. The running time is 97 minutes, though as I recall, the film ran somewhat longer when I saw it at the Fajr film festival. (JR) Read more

Documentaries About Forugh Farrokhzad

To understand the status of poet and filmmaker Forugh Farrokhzad in Iran, one would have to combine the mythologies of Maya Deren, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, and Bessie Smith, but even that might not communicate her importance as a feminist martyr and literary pioneer. Nasser Saffarian’s two fascinating hour-long video documentaries about Farrokhzad (1935-’67), Forugh Farrokhzad: The Green Cold (2001) and The Mirror of the Soul, ultimately do more for her legend than for her work. Speaking to Farrokhzad’s mother, siblings, friends, and fellow poets (but not to Ebrahim Golestan, her friend, lover, fellow writer, and filmmaking mentoronly a son is interviewed), Saffarian presents a wealth of valuable material, though his tendency to cut between the shortest of sound bites often limits the discourse. I was grateful to hear Farrokhzad reading from her work, to see snippets of Bernardo Bertolucci’s TV interview with her, and to learn that filmmaker Darius Mehrjui once translated some of her work for the Paris Review. But practically every clip from her great short The House Is Black is mutilated in some fashion (usually by replacing the sound track with voice-over), and her poetry is mainly represented by scattered lines quoted out of context. (From this standpoint, The Mirror of the Soul is an improvement over The Green Cold.) Read more

Jacques Rivette, le veilleur

Claire Denis’ first-rate documentary (1990) about filmmaker Jacques Rivette, produced for French television, has many things to recommend it. The main interviewer is the great critic Serge Daney, who, two years before his death, converses with Rivette while relaxing in a cafe and strolling around Paris (Denis interjects a few questions toward the end); since both men were former editors of Cahiers du Cinema, not to mention groundbreaking and highly articulate critics, they have a lot to discuss apart from Rivette’s filmmaking. Clips from many of Rivette’s major films (some of which remain difficult to see, like the legendary Out 1) are included, as are interviews with some of Rivette’s actors, such as Bulle Ogier and Jean-Francois Stevenin. Best of all, the film beautifully captures Rivette the man, as both solitary cinephile and exploratory filmmaker. Showing as part of the Block Museum’s invaluable series “Serge Daney: 10 Years After,” which started last month and ends in early December. In French with subtitles; to be projected from Beta SP video. 125 min. Northwestern Univ. Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, Saturday, October 26, 3:00, 847-491-4000. Read more