Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 117 minutes
Stranger Says: Mohammad Rasoulof, a politically engaged director who has clashed with and is under indictment by Iranian authorities, shot this film clandestinely in rural Iran. It won the best film of the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. Subsequently, Rasoulof was arrested and had his passport confiscated upon returning from the Telluride Film Festival. The heart, soul, and protagonist of the film is Reza, a former teacher who retreats with his wife and young son to raise goldfish in rural northern Iran. His refusal to participate in the endemic corruption and bribery necessary to succeed causes him to lose his money, car, and income. His rival is a vindictive farmer who has mastered the art of winning at any cost. The film has a slow burn until it ignites into a thriller with long-repressed violence expressed as a battle of good versus evil. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Says:In this country, you are oppressed or you are the oppressor." This is the lesson that the title character in Mohammad Rasoulof’s powerful new film is struggling not to learn. Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes, A MAN OF INTEGRITY tells the story of Reza, a former academic expelled from his college for protesting unjust working conditions at a local factory. He leaves Tehran for a remote village to become a goldfish farmer. But the problems of systemic corruption and injustice are not unique to the city; when a shadowy organization in control decides it wants the farm’s land for itself, Reza find that he has very few options. The more he resists, the more his troubles seem to multiply. In his uncompromising determination to hold on to his principles, he risks losing everything else. SIFF regular Rasoulof (WHITE MEADOWS, GOODBYE, MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN) is one of Iran’s most prominent and outspoken directors. Prohibited from making films, he works with a suspended prison sentence hanging over his head (A MAN OF INTEGRITY was shot in secret in the north of the country). Upon returning from the film’s U.S. premiere at Telluride in September 2017, his passport was confiscated by the Iranian authorities, effectively banning him from leaving the country.
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