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Fellow Citizen
(Hamshahri)

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami.
Iran, 1983, DCP, color, 52 min.
Persian with English subtitles.
DCP source: Janus Films

Reminiscent of grown-up First Graders, a stream of drivers aching to pass through the newly installed traffic-calming zone in central Tehran must plea their cases to one man: Reza Mansouri, the traffic officer, who quickly attempts to distinguish between truth and fiction while fielding the myriad requests and accompanying stories, only occasionally breaking into a smile. Kiarostami takes advantage of this physical and psychological fulcrum pitting desperate or merely inconvenienced people against one pivotal gatekeeper. Though all of them are somewhat at the mercy of higher forces and bureaucratic systems—and consistently locked in slightly claustrophobic medium-shots—Mansouri has been given the responsibilities of a minor god in this car-centric universe.

PRECEDED BY

  • The Chorus

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami.

Once again, Kiarostami uses the simplest of means to convey multiple dimensions. His protagonist—an old man with a hearing aid—“controls” the film’s soundtrack as he tunes out the chaos of the city by pulling his hearing aid out during his stroll through the streets. Initially, the viewer may feel left out, but then this enables an oasis of silence and serenity as the camera settles on his peaceful rituals at home. Outside his window, however, his choice not to hear also has an effect on the plot and a gently waxing suspense. Ultimately, it takes a crowd of schoolgirls to band together and finally influence the action, creating the unique event of the title.

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