Contributors of Asian Movie Pulse from America, Europe and Asia have voted for the 20 Best West Asian Films of 2020, with a great selection of films from Kazakhstan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Palestine, among others.
Picking a large number of Iranian films for the list, the website wrote, “Iran has the lion’s share.”
Some of the Iranian titles in the selection are ‘Untimely’ by Pouya Eshehardi, ‘Careless Crime’ by Shahram Mokri, ‘Pari’ by Siamak Etemadi, ‘The Wasteland’ by Ahmad Bahrami, ‘The Slaughterhouse’ by Abbas Amini, as well as ‘Khatemeh’ by Hadi Zarei and Mehdi Zarei.
The Asian Movie Pulse wrote “Untimely is a rather impressive feature debut by Pouya Eshhehardi, especially in terms of visual storytelling. Supported by a committed lead performance by Iman Afshar, it is a provoking, often confusing story about guilt being a downward spiral in which a person can get caught quite easily.”
It continued, “Careless Crime, the new feature by Iranian director Shahram Mokri, which is part of this year’s Orizzonti competition during the Venice Film Festival, is based on the 1978 attack on the Cinema Rex in the city of Abadan which caused the death of 473 people trapped in the burning cinema. However, instead of recounting the chronology of the event, Mokri aims to show the relationship between cinema and (his-) story by directing a feature which presents the event in a much broader context.”
The website added, “With the refugee crisis that occupied the headlines in the not so distant past (the crisis is still here, but the headlines, unfortunately, moved on to something else), the trope evolved to a sub-genre of its own, to so-called migration cinema. On the surface, ‘Pari’, a European co-production film by an Iranian filmmaker Siamak Etemadi, could be confused with such a film. But this Berlinale title that premiered in Panorama section of the festival is something completely different: a unique cinema experience that defies simple labeling.”
The Asian Movie Pulse also noted that “The Wasteland has some moments that could be described as “too art-house” but Ahmad Bahrami’s cinematic eloquence is quite visible throughout the movie, by an artist who is bound to have an impact in the future.”
It admired “The Slaughterhouse” as a blend of social drama and thriller whose message, bleak as it may be, shows the cruel logic of a system based on necessity and economic survival, adding, “Abbas Amini’s feature cannot be viewed as a “whodunit” since the perpetrator is known, but rather as a study of the world which allows them to roam free and go about their business.”
Picking ‘Khatemeh’ as the first title of the list, the website wrote “The concept of “real-life exceeds fantasy” finds one of its apogees here, since it is doubtful any scriptwriter could come up with a story as cinematic as the actual one we see unfolding in front of our eyes. Taking things from the fact that Khatemeh’s family wants to marry her to a man who was the cause of her sister’s suicide, and continuing to the circumstances of the actual marriage … a truly nightmarish setting begins to appear to the viewer.”
The Asian Movie Pulse deals with all aspects of Asian cinema, from its lowest depths (student, amateur films) to its highest peaks. At the same time, it promotes the work of the entire continent.