I always enjoyed going to the movies. I think that there is a certain thrill of going into a movie theater that is full of people just like you anticipating the beginning of the film everyone seems to be dying to see. From comedies to melodramas, from thrillers to horror films, I am just a movie fanatic. Naturally, living in New York City, I try to get the most out of a city of its majesty and diversity. This year I decided to visit one of the major film festivals in the world. The renowned Tribeca Film Festival had many movie openings, from all over the world, telling stories that were different from the usual Hollywood glitz and glam movies. The scenarios and settings were a little foreign, something I wasnt used to, and that alone attracted me to the festival even more. On Friday, April 27, I attended the first showing of Bahman Ghobadis movie, Half Moon.
This movie was in Farsi and Kurdish, and the actors and the director were Iranian. Coming into the theater at approximately seven thirty, I saw that a large portion of the audience looked as though they were descendents from the Middle East. The other portion of the audience was movie critics and I noticed many film students, studying the various film making strategies and taking notes. The rest were just like me, enjoying a rainy Friday night.
The movie told the story of Mamo, a famous Kurdish musician who got a chance to perform in Iraq after the fall of Sadaam Hussein. He travels to Iraq with his sons, and wants to bring a female singer from Iran but faces troubles with this. The singer is not allowed to leave the country because women have been in exile and silenced in that part of the world since the Islamic Revolution. This movie was an absolute hit, and it was clear who the native Iranians in the room were by the loud applause that trembled the theater. The film was different to what I am used to seeing, and the complete cultural clash shown of the Iranian and Iraqi Muslim customs and that of America left a very big impression on me. A woman who was one of the most talented singers could not sing because women were not allowed to perform, and to be on stage, or even sing. The woman, Hesho lost her self-esteem, and she could not use her beautiful voice because it was prohibited in her country, and I have to admit that the vast cultural differences were very hard for me to grasp, not to mention for all the women that were in the movie theater.
Coming out of this brilliant film, many of the women were outraged at how the females were treated in the movie, and that it has been going on for so long. Growing up in a family where women are very respected, my ethnocentricity to the Western culture shined through right away. Again, the notion of the us versus the others, was very alive in me, because the manner in which Hesho was treated was the complete opposite of what Americans or any Western countries find to be correct. Of course, this experience was very educating, and the movies plot was remarkable in every aspect of it, the cultural differences were very evident, and I do not think that anyone left untouched by this wonderful, and unfortunately realistic film.