5 Must Watch Middle-Eastern Movies
Middle Eastern filmmakers are extremely popular in the world cinema circuit. The films made in this region have won hearts and accolades at several film festivals. These are films that are recognized and appreciated world over. Still, the Academy Awards took the longest time to acknowledge the brilliance of the cinema being made here. ‘A Separation’, a movie by Asghar Farhadi was the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award, whereas Iran and nations around it have been making spectacular films for quite some time now. Here is a list of some Middle Eastern films that you should definitely watch, if you have not seen them already.
1. Where Do We Go Now
‘Where Do We Go Now’ is an Arabic film made by Lebanese director, Nadine Labaki. She is also the lead actor in the film. The film won the Cadillac People's Choice Award at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is about a village where both Christians and Muslims reside with each other peacefully, until the young boys of the village decide to repair the television set, and they start listening to news that informs them about the worldwide unrest between Christians and Muslims. The village is surrounded by land mines, and is only reachable by a small bridge. The movie then becomes one hell of a havoc-filled journey, full of surprises, comedy, music and some heart-wrenching scenes. It deals with how the women of the village are ready to go to any extent to get some sense into the men of the village. It is a well-crafted comedy, which will entertain everyone for sure.
2. A Separation
Asghar Farhadi wrote and directed the Iranian film ‘A Separation’. Iranian cinema is popular for its simplicity, and how they have the capacity to tell some of the most complicated things through simple images and stories. The Academy Awards look the longest time to recognize this, but when they did, it was with this brilliant film. Academy Awards also nominated this film in the Best Original Screenplay category. The film is indeed very well written. 'A Separation' explores the lives of a couple on the verge of divorce, and the problems both of them suffer during the course of the film. It deals with the issue of having different versions of truth and morality. Considering the plot is very simple, most people can think of it as a boring tale. But despite that, the film manages to keep you at the edge of your seats. It is racy, and always leaves you with moments of wanting to know more.
3. Paradise Now
It is an Arabic movie, which is extremely relevant for the youth today. Like Iranian cinema, this also follows simple filmmaking techniques. It talks about a history, which is some people’s present and is extremely violent. But the film never directly shows violence. It is beautifully translated through the amazing storyline that the film follows. The movie is about two Palestinian men who prepare for a suicide attack in Israel. It won a Golden Globe award for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, and was also nominated for an Academy Award in the same category. The film was acclaimed worldwide and still remains a hit amongst world cinema lovers. When the director was accepting the Golden Globe for this film, he made a plea on stage and said, “I hope Golden Globe becomes recognition that the Palestinians deserve their liberty and equality unconditionally."
4. Children of Heaven
Majid Majidi , who has written and directed 'Children of Heaven', is one of the greatest Iranian filmmakers of our times. It was nominated in the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards in 1998. Some argue that it is an out and out children’s film, but if you look at it with intent, there is a lot that everyone can take from it. The movie is a spectacular commentary on larger issues. In Iran, for the longest time, it was not possible to make political films. Filmmakers resorted to children’s films, which would comment on the bigger picture. Majidi’s films are a result of that very movement. 'Children of Heaven' is a tale of a brother and a sister. It is beautiful and soul stirring. Roger Ebert, the famous film critic called it ‘a nearly perfect film’. Various filmmakers all around the world have tried to adapt this film, but no one has been able to do justice to the beauty and simplicity of this wonderful movie.
Baran, which means rain, is also an Iranian film by Majid Majidi. It is based on the Afghani refugees living on the outskirts of Tehran. The film did very well in the film festical circuit, and made him win a lot of awards nationally and internationally. This film too, like 'Children of Heaven', explores important issues through the eyes of teenagers, and it is done with perfect subtlety and grace. It is a lovely take on the life of a construction site worker. It is beautiful in spite of being restrained, and is one of the most matured works seen around us. It is a story about innocence and love. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com had written, "Majidi uses sunlight, a completely free resource if you can time your filmmaking around it, as a dazzling special effect." This is true about the film. Baran is so rooted and authentic that you almost fall in love with the reality created around these characters. There are a lot of surprises stored for all of you in there. It is a must watch.
These are some of the many brilliant films made in the Middle Eastern countries. This is a nice sneak-peak into their wonderfully evolved and matured cinema. All these films hold tips for filmmakers and film lovers all around the globe. These were films that were honest and heart-wrenching. They are beautiful and simple. They can be watched by people of any age group, and they very subtlety instill empathy. Needless to say, these films are like a phenomenal treat for everyone.