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SFIFF 55 Reviews: 'Goodbye,' 'Robot & Frank,' 'How to Survive a Plague,' 'Fourth Dimension'

by Meredith Brody
April 22, 2012 3:52 PM
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'The Fourth Dimension''s Eddy Moretti, Harmony Korine and Val Kilmer
'The Fourth Dimension''s Eddy Moretti, Harmony Korine and Val Kilmer

On my first full day of San Francisco Film Festival screenings, the first screening of the day is “Goodbye,” the latest offering from Mohammad Rasoulof, the Iranian independent director who was sentenced (along with Jafar Panahi) by the Iranian government to six years in prison (along with a twenty-year prohibition on leaving the country, talking to foreign press, or writing or directing any films) on charges of propagandizing, at the end of 2010.

Rasoulof was released from jail after 17 days, and Panahi after five months, while the charges against them seem to be still wending their way through the courts. Both Panahi and Rasoulof still managed to have new films, made clandestinely, premiere last year at Cannes.

Panahi’s (reportedly smuggled out of Iran in a flash drive buried in a cake) is entitled “This is Not a Film,” a putative documentary of a day in his life under house arrest, and played at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema two weeks before the Festival. His credited co-director, documentarian Mojtaba Mirtahasb, was banned from traveling to the Toronto International Film Festival in September of last year, when the film was screened there.

Rasoulof’s “Goodbye” is his fifth film. I’ve seen two others: “Iron Island,” (2005) an allegorical film about a colony living on a oil tanker in the Persian Gulf under a despotic captain, which felt didactic and eventually tedious to me, and more seductive “The White Meadows,” (2009), in which allegory becomes beguiling myth, as a man travels from island to island, collecting the tears of its inhabitants, in a mysterious ritual.

“Goodbye” is shot in a totally different style: the sunlight and fairy tales are replaced by grim realism, filmed in muted shades of blue and gray. We follow a beautiful young woman, a lawyer banned from trying cases, as she wends her way through Kafkaesque bureaucracy, attempting to secure a visa to leave the country. Her husband, once a journalist, is mysteriously “working in the south.” She’s beset at every turn: conflicted about her pregnancy, harassed by police, patronized by men who only want to deal with her absent husband. It’s a powerful film on its own, but almost unbearably sad given the context of its creation.


  • Goodbye | June 14, 2012 12:07 AMReply

    so its a story of a young lawyer in Tehran in search of a visa to leave Iran... incidentally this is what, Mohammad Rasoulof did during the winter of 2010-11 :) Seems like a good watch. David Fear from Time Out New York is quoted as saying: Good Bye is "easily one of the best things I've seen at the fest, and the joy of seeing such a strong work here is only offset by the depressing fact that this gesture of dissent is being screened without its creator present."
    For those who have watched, Goodbye reminds one of the Pawnbroker (1964). One of the favorite goodbye quotes Don't be dismayed at goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. This quote is one of the nicest silver linings and hope at the sad moments of goodbye.

  • Goodbye | June 14, 2012 12:08 AM

    Well, should have mentioned, but the source of the above quote is:

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