Practical aspects of Koran-sanctioned polygamy play out in a small Iranian village in "Four Wives -- One Man."

Practical aspects of Koran-sanctioned polygamy play out in a small Iranian village in “Four Wives — One Man.” Another of Swedish documaker Nahid Persson’s character-driven slices of life centering on her birthplace, pic will no doubt polarize auds in same way as its prize-winning predecessor “Prostitution Behind the Veil.” Some will be horrified by the depiction of the women’s lot, and others will feel Persson is besmirching Iran by sensationalizing something that, as the titles admit, only 14% of the population practices. Funded by a consortium of international broadcasters, pic should get much play on the air and at fests.

Although virile farmer Heda already has four spouses (and 20 children), he wants another, preferably a young virgin who won’t talk back. Oppressed wives Farang, Goli, Shahpar and Ziba discuss problems associated with the current arrangement. Heda’s querulous, elderly mother plays the women against each other and speaks in a frank, vulgar way about sex. Beautifully composed photography and artificial-feeling setups make one wonder how much was re-created/directed for the camera. When helmer was banned from the country midway through the three-year shoot, filming was completed by her daughter Setareh.

Four Wives -- One Man

Sweden

Production

A Folkets Bio release of a Real Reel production, with support of Sveriges Television, TV2 Denmark, ETV Teleteater, Norsk Rikskringkasting, VRT, Yleisradio Ab, Rikisutvarpio-Sjonvarpid, VPRO Television, TG4, Special Broadcasting Service, Nordic Film & TV Fund, Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, Swedish Film Institute/Tove Torbiornsson. (International sales: Real Real, Uppsala, Sweden.) Produced by Nahid Persson, Setareh Persson. Directed, written by Nahid Persson.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta), Setareh Persson, Tara; editors, Bernhard Winkler, Nahid Persson; Kajsa Grandell; music, Krister Linder. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, Feb. 23, 2008. (In Gothenburg Film Festival --Swedish Films of 2007.) Original title: Fyra fruar och en man. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Heda Mohammadi, Farang, Goli, Shahpar, Ziba.

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