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Leto and 3 Faces — dissidents defy the authorities

Leto and 3 Faces — dissidents defy the authorities

Leto and 3 Faces — dissidents defy the authorities
May 14
23:05 2018

Roman Bilyk and Irina Starshenbaum in ‘Leto’

Two film-makers had very good excuses for not making it to Cannes in person this year. Kirill Serebrennikov is currently under house arrest on corruption charges in Russia. One doesn’t like to kick a man when he’s down but Leto (Summer), his meandering drama set in the early 1980s Leningrad post-punk scene, never manages to convey what was so radical or pivotal about the movement, nor why anyone should care. It is possible that Serebrennikov was forced to excise any potentially inflamatory material but what we get instead are endless scenes shot in cool black and white in which lank-haired young men pout, puff cigarettes and spout on about Bolan and Bowie. Worse still are occasional lapses into an excruciating jukebox musical mode: Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” warbled by a tramload of commuters amid naff MTV-style graphics that belong to another ’80s music genre altogether. Some of us were tempted to reach for the emergency brake lever.


Far better was 3 Faces, the fourth film made by Iranian dissident film-maker Jafar Panahi since being banned by the state in 2010 from directing, travelling and giving interviews. It is staggering that he continues to make films and even more staggering that in all of them he has lost none of his humanism and, playing himself, continues to radiate a peaceful and benevolent compassion.

Behnaz Jafari in ‘3 Faces’

The new film revolves around a young aspiring actress from a small town cut off from secular civilisation who sends out a suicidal video message and provokes a desperate rescue trip by Panahi and actress Behnaz Jafari. Part intriguing mystery, part examination of clashing traditional and modern cultures, it once again exhibits Panahi’s ability to interrogate Iran’s inner divisions without imposing easy judgments. One can only hope that behind his gently smiling countenance this is not a veiled cry of desperation from the great director himself.


To May 19, festival-cannes.com

The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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