A compact tragedy with moments of comic relief, “Wishes of the Land” puts a moving – if not particularly subtle – spotlight on how backward traditions can needlessly ruin lives. Performances are slightly stiff, but cast’s expressive faces carry the day as two would-be young lovers in an Iranian village are thwarted at every turn. Further fest travels are indicated.
Spirited, 19-year-old Goli lives with her mother, bedridden father and hothead brother, all of whom think she should already be married – preferably to a widower with a tractor. But Goli has fallen for young Morad, the poor but decent orphan who tends her father’s sheep. Morad, however, is terrified of bucking the status quo, as a local girl has just been executed with impunity by her own brother for looking twice at a visiting musician. Then, the night a new schoolteacher – pic’s lone rep of modern thinking – shows his pupils the magic of cinema with a 16mm projector, Goli’s father dies. Set against snow-dappled mountains and lowland scrub, pic establishes a vivid sense of place across two seasons.