Review by Arash Taheri
6 WINS at various International Film Festivals including
Karlovy Vary Int Film Festival
Fipresci Award for best Film
………This film takes place in the Kurdish region of Iraq. It is about Shilan, who is trying to do everything she can to help her younger sister Rojin, cheat her way in the entrance Exam to University.
……..Shilan’s commitment in helping her sister pass exams goes too far to an extent that hurts her own family. She is married to Sardar and together they have a daughter. The film brings a lot of topics to the surface that goes beyond its simple plot. The filmmaker is able to gradually build up tension, and keep the audience engaged till the end. From the paranoid teacher, who suspects that every student and teacher could be cheating, to the engineer who is trying to build an English School by selling the answers of the exams.
…….Another element that is well portrayed in this film, is the relationship between the two sisters. Although, Shilan has her own daughter, she is more of a mother-figure to her sister, Rojin.
What I loved about The Exam is that, there is a lot more layers to the story, and each layer is subtly embedded in the sequences, and by the end they all come together. Whether it is about Shilan putting pressure on Rojin to continue her higher education, instead of getting married. Is it because she regrets her own marriage? , or is it about the corruption that exists within the country?
Reviewed by Ronen Leibman
11 WINS at various International Film
Thessaloniki Film Festival
A man and a woman meet on a ferry to one of the Greek Islands. His car breaks down, she offers him a ride. They spent few days together on the Island. They don’t fall in love, nothing dramatic happens. The conversations are hesitant, not much being said. They support each other, then they part. Not everything is resolved. It’s life as we know it.
Trying to define Jorgos Guissis’s film under the conventional genre titles will do the film lots of harm. Although the film follows a brief encounter between a woman having second thoughts about her career, and life choices, and a strange man looking to bury his late aunt’s bones, which he carries in a box, the film’s drama as well as the comic moments are minor. Unlike many of its kind, they don’t fall in love, and there isn’t any big moment of revelation. The film can’t be defined by those events, it’s a road movie with no resolution at the end.
If any term can describe the film, maybe it’s slow cinema.
Slow cinema is less than a genre and more a mode of being, a contradiction to mainstream cinema of action. The term appeared in the last decade, together with ideas such as slow food (opposing fast food), slow fashion and others.
Slow cinema is characterized by its form- minimal dialogue, long takes, static camera and lack of action. Those enabling the viewer to absorb the events as well as the images, pay attention to small details, think about what you watch and take your time understanding what you have just watched.
Magnetic Fields is a film best defined and understood by its mode of production, the blurring border between the film and real life. The film was shot by the director and 6 friends, over 10 days on location, the story line was conceived by the director and the actor the film was shot on Mini DV camera, the dialogues were improvised, the heroin’s story was based on her own experience, with a budget on 6000 euro and all during the pandemic.
Yet each one of these contributes to the beauty and intimacy of the film. It’s easy to like the characters, to identify with their loneliness and the fragile friendship. The use of the Mini DV makes the film look hazy and at moments, dreamlike, contributing to the feeling that it could be anytime, anywhere. It also emphasizes the director connecting with some of the great directors of the art house tradition such as Theo Angelopoulos and Jean Luc-Godard. Two prominent film makers and works come in mind while watching the film. German film maker Wim Venders (Alice in the Cities, 1974) and most of all Iranian Abbas Kiarostami, mainly (Taste of Cherry ,1997. The philosophical content, observing life passing by from the car window, the mid-life crisis, the act of burial and the use of MiniDV as a tool enabling long takes, small crew and freedom from script makes magnetic fields a film where the viewer can let themselves go, immerse into the images, story and characters, and have the time to reflect from it to their own life, and just like life, not all is solved, or understood, but it moves on.