Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sundance ’11: The Wind is Blowing on My Street (short)

The media constantly assures us Muslim women actually find veils and headscarves liberating or comforting in some way. However, one young Iranian woman cannot wait to tear it off once she is safely home. This leads to some tense moments when she accidently locks herself out of the family flat with head uncovered in Saba Riazi’s short film The Wind is Blowing on My Street, which screens as part of Short Program II at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Riazi’s second year NYU graduate school film tells a relatively simple story, but it raises a number of significant issues regarding the state of (perhaps not-so) contemporary Iran. Noticing her predicament, young man of college age newly arrived in the neighborhood keeps her company, even though each passer-by is a very real cause for concern.

The misogynist implications of a society that makes uncovered head a legitimate crisis are inescapable. However, Wind clearly suggests Iran will be a heavy price for its extremism, precipitating a study-abroad exodus of its best and brightest students seeking escape from the regime’s intolerance, like the film’s two lead characters. Yet, maybe the film’s most telling commentary comes in the closing credits, where the lead actress is simply billed as “anonymous.”

Riazi helms with a deft touch, in no way overplaying the potential menace of the situation, but never letting viewers forget the vulnerability of the young woman’s position either. She also elicits some quite natural, down-to-earth performances from her principal leads. A very good short film, Wind is one of several bold Iranian themed selections at this year’s Sundance. It screens again with Short Program II on Friday (1/28) and Saturday (1/29).