La Presse at the 77th Cannes Film Festival | An Iranian Palme d’Or?

(Cannes) The 77 competitione Cannes Film Festival concluded in a crescendo on Friday with The seeds of the wild fig treea brilliant political film by Iranian dissident Mohammad Rasoulof, which could well win the Palme d’Or on Saturday.


Posted at 5:20 p.m.

Iman, investigating judge of the revolutionary court, is newly promoted at the time when the revolt breaks out in Tehran in 2022. Mahsa Amini, a young woman of 22, died at the hands of the moral police after being arrested for “port of the inappropriate veil”. The weapon that Iman carries as part of his new duties disappears soon after from his apartment and he suspects his wife and daughters.

The seeds of the wild fig treewhich descends into a paranoid spiral and a climate of denunciation worthy of a psychological thriller, is a full-blown attack on the Iranian dictatorship, its corruption and its misogyny, from a filmmaker who has already been imprisoned twice in Iran.

Sentenced on appeal in April to eight years in prison for “collusion against national security”, Mohammad Rasoulof clandestinely fled Iran last week, crossing the mountains on foot. He was on site in Cannes on Friday afternoon, accompanied by two of his actresses, to attend the premiere of his film.

From the universal to the intimate, Mohammad Rasoulof transposes into an uneventful family the deleterious effects of religious obscurantism, nationalist propaganda and the yoke of theocracy. His film is a tour de force.

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PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE CANNES FESTIVAL

Still from the film The seeds of the wild fig tree

Until then, an investigator deemed incorruptible, and despite a few cases of conscience, Iman decides to turn a blind eye to the unfairness of the justice system. He resolves to endorse the indictments that land by the hundreds on his desk every day, without reading them, on the sole basis of the prosecutor’s recommendation. What matters, for Iman and his wife, is his promotion, the promise of being appointed judge and the official apartment that comes with it.

Iman blindly accepts what the authorities dictate to her – that the young women who demonstrate are sluts who want to strip naked in the streets – by submitting to orders. He is no longer able to establish contact with his own daughters, a teenager and a young adult, bombarded with images of police brutality on social networks (real, upsetting images that Rasoulof integrates into his film). And witnesses of abuses in those around them. Where did this friend disappear, disfigured by buckshot then arrested in her university residence?

A metaphor for the generational schism, the culture of surveillance and suspicion that divides Iran, The seeds of the wild fig tree is hotly topical. It is a powerful film of 2 hours 48 minutes, without downtime, directed by a courageous artist who risks a lot, as well as his collaborators, in order to tell the story of the Iran of the Mullahs. Will the jury chaired by Greta Gerwig be sensitive to this? How could he not be?

The Shoah seen by Hazanavicius

Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist, Redoutable) is back in Cannes competition with his first animated film, The most valuable commodityadaptation of the homonymous novel by Jean-Claude Grumberg, who is the co-writer.

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PHOTO LES FILMS DU RIVER, PROVIDED BY THE CANNES FESTIVAL

Still from the film The most valuable commodity

“Once upon a time, in a big wood, there lived a poor woodcutter and a poor woodcutter. The cold, the hunger, the poverty, and everywhere around them the war, made their lives very difficult,” says the narrator Jean-Louis Trintignant, whose voice Hazanavicius recorded when he was already ill. and lost his sight.

One winter day (very nicely illustrated), the poor woodcutter takes in a baby, abandoned by one of the many trains that cross their woods. The lumberjack, fueled by the anti-Semitism of the time, is not delighted to welcome this “goods” inherited from the “Heartless”.

Poetic tale about the Shoah, The most valuable commodity doesn’t particularly stand out for its originality, but it’s another useful reminder of human nature and its propensity to look the other way when genocide is unfolding before its eyes.

An award for Matthew Rankin

The very charming second feature film by Montreal filmmaker Matthew Rankin, Universal language, won the brand new Audience Award from the Quinzaine des filmmakers, accompanied by a grant of 7,500 euros from the Chantal Akerman Foundation. This is the only public prize of the entire Cannes Film Festival, including the official selection and parallel sections. The Filmmakers’ Fortnight is a non-competitive section to which the cinema-loving public who are not necessarily accredited (such as cinema professionals, journalists, etc.) have access. Set in a quirky Winnipeg, shot in Persian and French, this absurd comedy notably features a character named Matthew Rankin returning to his roots in his hometown.

The hosting costs for this report were paid by the Cannes Film Festival, which had no say over it.

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