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3 Faces

  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art 227 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Iranian director Jafar Panahi releases yet another bold film his government didn't want him to make. Info

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In 2010, Iranian director Jafar Panahi was arrested, charged with propaganda against his country's government, and sentenced to a 20-year ban on making films. Panahi's latest feature represents his fourth act of cinematic defiance since the prohibition was imposed (following Taxi Tehran, which had its Madison premiere at Spotlight Cinema in 2015). An elusive, charming, and compassionate look at the repressive patriarchal customs of rural Iranian society, the new 3 Faces focuses on three actresses at different stages of their careers, one of whom remains appropriately invisible throughout.

3 Faces opens with unsettling, tremulous smartphone footage of a distraught young woman, Marziyeh (Marziyeh Rezaei), ostensibly dying by suicide in a remote cave because her family forbids her to become an "entertainer" and attend a prestigious Tehran conservatory. The video has curiously been sent to the well-known actress Behnaz Jafari, who plays a version of herself. Jafari and her director friend, Panahi (also playing himself), decide to investigate and embark on a journey to Marziyeh's provincial village in the mountainous, Turkish-speaking Azerbaijani region of Iran. As the film quietly unfolds against the backdrop of a serene, changeless natural landscape, the two engage in a succession of peculiar interactions with the locals that might seem digressive or whimsical at first. Panahi gradually reveals their significance, interweaving fiction with verité techniques to craft a moving, incisive portrait of the contradictions and misogyny embedded in the community's traditional way of life. With its contemplative rhythms, bravura handheld camerawork, nonexistent budget, and deeply humanistic viewpoint, 3 Faces elegantly illustrates how art can thrive despite, and indeed because of, strict creative limitations. —Jason Fuhrman

Earlier Event: November 27
Ida (free)
Later Event: November 29
Muriel Simms (free)