(Khers nist, Jafar Panahi, Iran 2022, 106 min., DCP, Persian and Azerbaijani w/English subtitles)
In 2010, Iranian master filmmaker Jafar Panahi received a twenty-year ban from making films from the Islamic Revolutionary Court. On house arrest, Panahi has nevertheless been surreptitiously making films since then, distributing them at foreign festivals and winning awards. He was arrested again in July of 2022 for defending a fellow filmmaker and sentenced to serve six years in prison. His latest film, completed just before his arrest, takes him right to the edge of Iran, on the border of Turkey. Playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself, the film follows Panahi as he lodges in a border town while remotely directing a film in Turkey. His presence complicates the life of the town, however, as he begins to document life on the border. His landlord is caught in the middle as tensions boil over with a prospective marriage in the village. At the same time, the couple he is filming in Turkey are having trouble finding a way to escape to Europe. Typically self-reflexive, Panahi’s last film for the foreseeable future blurs the lines between reality and fiction while taking aim at local and national restrictions and the resulting effect they have on the people of Iran.