MAILED: April 19, 2001
A little girl's journey through the streets of Tehran becomes a dazzling metafictional exercise in
"The Mirror," a 1998 film from Iran that will conclude this year's International Film Series at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
In Farsi subtitled in English, the 95-minute film will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m Thursday through Sunday, May 3-6, in Davies Theatre.
"The Mirror" is an ingenious and daringly original commentary on the nature of documentary filmmaking. Jafar Panahi (director of 1995 Oscar nominee
"The White Balloon") wraps a blunt political critique inside the layers of a deceptively simple film.
The movie begins as a realistic story focusing on Mina (Mina Mohammad-Khani), a little girl with her arm in a sling who is waiting for her mother to meet her at the end of the school day. When no one comes for her, Mina becomes impatient and impulsively hops on a bus that is heading in the wrong direction. As the bus makes its way through the crowded streets, Mina overhears a number of conversations and the film takes on the feeling of a documentary made with a hidden camera.
Halfway through the film, however, it is Mina the actress not Mina the character who loses patience. She announces she is tired of making the movie, takes off her sling and runs off.
"A movie that at first appeared to be a neo-realist gem, reminiscent of
'The Bicycle Thief,' abruptly turns into a complicated exploration of cinematic illusion and reality," wrote New York Times film critic Stephen Holden.
"By the end of the movie, the perspective has shifted from Mina, to the headstrong girl playing her, to the frustrated (still largely unseen) filmmakers watching their work-in-progress fall apart.
'The Mirror' poses the deepest questions about illusion, reality and filmmaking. Its portrait of Tehran is unforgettable."
Tickets, available at the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727, are $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty/staff or $1 for UW-Eau Claire students.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 19, 2001