Though it suffers from an occasional, very Christian tendency to view Muslim ritual as symptomatic of fanaticism, Thierry Michel's "Iran, Veiled Appearances" is a mostly suitable primer on contempo Iranian culture, not significantly dissimilar from a CNN report, that will play best to auds unfamiliar with the subject matter.

Though it suffers from an occasional, very Christian tendency to view Muslim ritual as symptomatic of fanaticism, Thierry Michel’s “Iran, Veiled Appearances” is a mostly suitable primer on contempo Iranian culture, not significantly dissimilar from a CNN report, that will play best to auds unfamiliar with the subject matter — or homegrown Iranian features (among them “The Circle” and “Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine”) that have more astutely traversed similar terrain.

In its depiction of the oppression of women and political prisoners, pic has little new to offer. But helmer does well at capturing the contagion of rebellious fervor spreading its way across the country, and at capturing certain rarely seen images, like a women’s parachuting class. Michel spends much time with the student factions that find themselves at odds with the Islamic establishment of Ali Khamenei and the reform-minded, but relatively powerless government of the elected president, Mohammed Khatami. For a Westerner, the filmmaker has been granted a surprising trust by his interviewees, many of whom express dissident views.

Iran, Veiled Appearances

Belgium-France

Production

A Les Films de la Passerelle, RTBF Television Belge, Les Films D'Ici, Raitre, Arte France, VRT, CBA, Centre du Cinema et de L'Audiovisuel de la Communaute Francaise de Belgique, Les Teledistributeurs Wallons coproduction with the help of DGCI, Eurimages, Procirep, La Loterie Nationale, Sundance Documentary Fund of the Sundance Institute, SVT, YLE, CNC (France). Directed, written by Thierry Michel.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Farsin Khosrowshahi; editor, Marine Deleu. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Documentary), Jan. 18, 2003. Running time: 91 MIN.
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