You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

For a Moment, Freedom

Iran-born, Vienna-based TV and docu vet Arash T. Riahi's assured "For a Moment, Freedom" is yet another immigrant-in-peril border-crossing tale.

With: Navid Akhavan, Pourya Mahyari, Kamran Rad, Payam Madjlessi, Behi Djanati Atai, Elika Bozorgi, Sina Saba, Said Oveissi, Fares Fares, Ezgi Asaroglu, Toufan Manoutcheri, Soussan Azarin, Johannes Silberschneider, Michael Niavarani. (Farsi, Persian, English dialogue)

Deserved winner of the top first-feature prize at Montreal, Iran-born, Vienna-based TV and docu vet Arash T. Riahi’s assured “For a Moment, Freedom” is yet another immigrant-in-peril border-crossing tale. But it strikes a smoother balance of realism, polish, warmth, suspense, humor and tragedy than most, with misfortune present yet not predominating. Depressing-sounding theme will limit prospects, though fest buzz should open some doors to arthouse, broadcast and DVD exposure in various territories.

Introduced separately, the protagonists are clustered into three groups. In the first, college-aged, cheerful Merdad (Pourya Mahyari) and more serious-minded friend Ali (Navid Akhavan) are sneaking two pint-size cousins (Elika Bozorgi, Sina Saba) out of Iran to reunite them with refugee parents already in Austria.

In the second group, Lale (Behi Djanati Atai) and Hussan (Payam Madjlessi) travel over the mountains by foot with their own young son (Kian Khalili), hoping to find European asylum from political persecution. After some tense moments, these first two groups find themselves safely –for the moment — across the border, in the same car driven by a kindly coyote.

In Ankara, they soon discover such friends are hard to find. Turkish cops and Iranian secret police are on the prowl for illegals; even the manager at the hotel where the protags are housed turns out to be an informant.

There, the principals meet a third group of players — weary Iranian opposition supporter Abbas (Said Oveissi) and antic Iraqi-Kurdish English teacher Manu (Fares Fares). They’ve become argumentative but close friends, and are happy to advise the new arrivals.

Asylum status is far from guaranteed. As characters await official word, developments both good and ill occur. There’s considerable warmth — even fun — in this fragile, temporary community, palpable joy when exit visas arrive, heartbreak when they don’t. Eventually, one central figure protests bureaucratic injustice in the most extreme fashion.

Writer-helmer Riahi eschews a melodramatic tone even during intense sequences including torture and an execution, managing somehow to evenly mix in lighter content (most involving child thesps or the delightful Fares). Bittersweet final effect is quite moving.

Perfs are strong down the line, tech and design aspects unshowy but first-rate. Pic was primarily shot in Turkey.

For a Moment, Freedom

Austria - France

Production: A Wega Film and Les Films du Losange production in association with ORF, WDR, Arte, Arte France Cinema Filmfonds-Wien, Film Laden, Wega Film Vienna, Kultur Niederosterreich and Film Institut. (International sales: Les Films du Losange, Paris.) Produced by Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz and Margaret Menegoz. Executive producer, Katz. Directed, written by Arash T. Riahi.

Crew: Camera (color), Michi Rieblaach; editor, Karina Ressler Aea; music, Karuan; production designer, Christoph Kanter; costume designer Monica Buttinger; sound (SRD), Mohsan Nasiri; assistant director, Olaf R. Benold; casting, Markus Schleinzer, Lisa Olah, Harika H. Uygur Ulku, Stephane Battut. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Fest (First Films, competing), Aug. 29, 2008. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: With: Navid Akhavan, Pourya Mahyari, Kamran Rad, Payam Madjlessi, Behi Djanati Atai, Elika Bozorgi, Sina Saba, Said Oveissi, Fares Fares, Ezgi Asaroglu, Toufan Manoutcheri, Soussan Azarin, Johannes Silberschneider, Michael Niavarani. (Farsi, Persian, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Brie Larson

    Brie Larson on Diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: 'We Gotta Move Faster'

    While Brie Larson is thrilled over the success of the female-led “Captain Marvel,” the actress wants more diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Larson sat down with Variety’s Marc Malkin for the first episode of Variety and iHeartMedia’s new film podcast, “The Big Ticket.” “I’m happy to be on the forefront of the normalization of [...]

  • Mammoth Films Festival to Open With

    'In Fabric' to Open Mammoth Lakes Film Festival

    Director Peter Strickland’s “In Fabric” starring “Game of Thrones” star Gwendoline Christie is set to open the fifth Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, the organization has announced today along with their film lineup. The festival in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., will take place May 22-26 and feature several films’ U.S. debuts. In addition to the narrative feature [...]

  • Kristen Stewart'JT LeRoy' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Kristen Stewart: 'Charlie's Angels' Reboot Is 'Woke' but Still 'Funny and Weird'

    “Charlie’s Angels” has made the jump to 2019. Kristen Stewart, who stars in the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot as one of the Angels, says the classic ’70s franchise has been updated to modern times without losing its pulpy action. “At one point I think we said it was woke and grounded, and everyone was like, ‘Wait, [...]

  • Calamity Jane

    Indie Sales Acquires Remi Chayé's Female-Driven Animated Feature 'Calamity' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based company Indie Sales (“My Life as a Zucchini”) has acquired Rémi Chayé’s animated film “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” the French helmer’s follow up to his critically acclaimed feature debut “Long Way North.” “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” tells the story of the 12-year-old Martha Jane who must [...]

  • Scarlett Johansson on 2020 Election, Avengers

    Scarlett Johansson on Running for Office: 'Maybe at Some Point'

    President Scarlett Johansson, anyone? While she may not be running for office at the moment, Johansson says a campaign may be in her future. “Maybe some time in the future,” she says when asked if her political activism has inspired her own aspirations. “I think the greatest way to effect change is in local politics. [...]

  • Circus of Books

    Netflix Acquires Tribeca Doc 'Circus of Books,' Exec Produced by Ryan Murphy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to the documentary “Circus of Books” ahead of its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Rachel Mason wrote and directed the pic, and also produced it along with Kathryn Robson, Cynthia Childs, Camilla Hall and Adam Baron. Ryan Murphy, Josh Braun, John Battsek, Rhianon Jones and Gerald Herman executive produced. [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content