Friday, June 24, 2016

“Septembers of Shiraz” the Struggle of a Jewish Family in Times of the Persian Revolution

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
“Septembers of Shiraz” is a gripping, provocative, and a mighty cry for freedom.

The 1977 “Staying Alive” is heard as background music in a gathering of a wealthy, secular Jewish/Iranian family in Tehran - that was the time when the Iranian religious revolution overthrew the regime of the Shah of Iran.
Septembers of Shiraz poster
The Amin family is celebrating the farewell to one of their sons, who was sent to study abroad in Massachusetts.
Sama Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
At that time, the prosecution of a hard-working, wealthy, and educated families was an everyday norm. The State considered that people could the overthrown government.
Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
The Oscar® winning actor Adrien Brody is terrific as Issac Amin, his character’s arc starts as a businessman and father figure, then he becomes a prisoner and a victim of torture. 
Salam Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
His suffering makes him value life more than any material possessions. Soon after, he negotiates his freedom and his family’s safety.

Oscar® nominee Salma Hayek-Pinault plays his devoted wife Farnez, an Iranian Jewish woman, who has an opinion and a voice, and as a woman in Iran, those skills are against the revolution. 

She is an ideal housewife and a loving mother of two, who writes in different magazines about the lifestyles in foreign places, something that the fundamentalists consider indecent and subversive pieces of propaganda.
Salma Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz. Review www.festivalinLA.com
“Septembers of Shiraz” is Salma Hayek’s best performance since “Frida.”  

The Oscar® nominee Iranian actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo (“House of Sand and Fog”) is terrific as Habibeh. She is the woman who helps Farnez with the house labors and with some moral issues as well. 

Her son Mortesa (Navid Navid), soon becomes the “Judas,” of the story. He is the one who betrays everyone, including his mother and even the revolution.

The film, based on the best-seller novel by Iranian-born, N.Y. based, writer Dalia Sofer, was adapted for the screen by a Yale graduate Hanna Weg.

The Australian director Wayne Blair (“The Sapphires”) in “Septembers of Shiraz” keeps the actors’ performance in an under-tone to contrast with the dominant images of torture and repression.
Salma Hayek in "Septembers of Shiraz.
The music by Mark Isham is discreet and capable of accentuating the actors' emotions.

With only a few musical tones, the dramatic momentum gained in the beginning does not exceed the rest of the story.

The film reconstructed the 1970's period in Iran for precision, the production value of this film is exceptional. “Septembers of Shiraz” was shot in Bulgaria. Knowing their craft very well, they came out with a remarkable production.

In 2012, Hollywood tackled the Iranian conflict for CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), who helped rescue US diplomats out of Tehran in “Argo.” The best picture Oscar® winner created some controversy regarding the nationalities and the background.  

In an international production, it is almost impossible to have all talent from the same origin. Regardless of the nationalities, all the actors are genuine and respectful to the real people they portrayed.


“Septembers of Shiraz” has the feeling of authenticity, it may be visually predictable, but clearly illustrates the struggle of this family who helped many, by giving them jobs and a brighter future in Iran.

In the revolution, many were prosecuted and killed; in the film, we learned that people from different classes don't mesh well. They betrayed their people. We have to remember that there is a lot of ingratitude in this world. 

The fundamentalist Iranians like to call themselves “brothers” even though they torture and kill each other.

This film, dedicated to all the families who have endured prosecution in the world, is essential for the tight-knit family.

“Septembers of Shiraz” is a remarkable story whose intention is to restore human dignity in the world.

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