Iranian cinema currently feels like it is going through a golden age of beautifully constructed, quietly powerful dramas. In recent years we have had A Separation, Inversion and Ten, and now comes Israfil, director Ida Panahandeh's sophomore film.
The film chronicles the lives of three separate but intertwined people. Mahi is a school teacher whose son has died. Her former lover Behrouz returns to the area to sell his family's land before going back to
Israfil is a fascinating film, one that skilfully navigates the tricky task of making each of its central characters compelling. This is aided by a trio of strong performances. Pejman Bazeghi brings a quiet intensity to the part of Behrouz, making him a sympathetic presence. We never feel like he is leading the two women on, more that he is exploring both what could have been and what lies in front of him. Hoda Zeinolabedin is fascinating as the embodiment of his future, with the film moving briefly to
Israfil is a touching, low key drama, exploring an interesting subject. The film particularly stands out when Tehrani is on screen, but the rest of the film is a fascinating exploration of Iranian society, and the norms that shape it. It marks out Panahandeh as a talented director in her nation's cinema.
This is a London Film Festival preview and Israfil will be released at a later date.