During childhood, I also had the opportunity to experience a very different cinema: global art films, broadcast in a weekly program on Iranian national TV. In comparison to classical cinema, those films were serious, disorienting, and bleak . . . they encouraged me to crave meaning by looking inside, by criticizing my own emotions.
The Otherness it uncritically invokes touches on postcolonial realities and racial demonizing at a moment when England was embroiled in a thicket of social and economic problems and anti-immigrant violence. But its dark vision of the English soul as inherently corrupted and afflicted by madness was hardly a comforting takeaway.
Seriousness is often likened to pretentiousness, which is often a sort of veiled criticism, at least when talking about movies. It qualifies everything a given film isn’t (fun, humorous, irreverent), while also overstating what the movie actually does or tries to be.
While I experienced this visceral unfolding across the political landscape of Ireland in the coming years, was in the midst of my delving into Panahi’s post-ban films, exploring how the particular censorship conditions under which the director lives give shape to his storytelling as a distinct mode of resistance.