Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sampling Ragbar / Downpour (2011 restoration by World Cinema Foundation)

IR 1971. D+SC: Bahram Beyzaie. DP: Barbod Taheri. ED: Mehdi Rajaeeyan. M: Shida Garachedaghi. C: Parviz Fannizadeh (Hekmati), Parvaneh Masumi (Atie), Manuchehr Farid (Rahim), Mohammad Ali Keshavarz (Nazem), Hossein Kasbian, Jamsheed Layegh, Chehrazad. Prod.: Barbod Taheri per Mehregan Film. 2K DCP. 122'. B&w. English subtitles burned on the source print, provided by Khoury & Ebeid (Beirut-Lebanon). Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato), 30 June 2013

Restored by the World Cinema Foundation L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2011. Funding provided by Doha Film Institute

Introduce Cecilia Cenciarelli

"The source element for this restoration was a positive print with English subtitles provided by director Bahram Bayzaie. Since this is the only known surviving copy of the film - all other film sources were seized and are presumed destroyed - the restoration required a considerable amount of both physical and digital repair. The surviving print was badly damaged with  scratches,  perforation  tears and mid-frame splices. Over 1500 hours of work were necessary to complete the restoration."

Bahram Bayzaie: "During Downpour, the equations of commercial and intellectual films were the same. The common morality of the action/ drama films of the commercial cinema had a tone of political ideology and social activism. The intellectual films were praised for communicating with the mass culture. In that sense, I don't want to be popular. Many of these (popular) moralities, in my opinion, are wrong and we are all victims of them. So, I have betrayed my people if I endorse them. I have deviated from the morals of the political parties, hence they have labeled me (inaccessible), not the people. At the heart of my harsh expression, there is a love and respect, for the people, that does not exist in superficial appraisals of the masses. My audiences are those who strive to go one step further, not those who are the guardians of the old equations nor those who dread self examination and self reflexivity." Bahram Bayzaie

Martin Scorsese: "I'm very proud that the World Cinema Foundation has restored this wise and beautiful film, the first feature from its director Bahram Bayzaie. The tone puts me in mind of what I love best in the Italian neorealist pictures, and the story has the beauty of an ancient fable - you can feel Bayzaie's background in Persian literature, theater and poetry. Bayzaie never received the support he deserved  from the government of his home country - he now lives in California - and it's painful to think that this extraordinary film, once so popular in Iran, was on the verge of disappearing forever. The original negative has been either impounded or destroyed by the Iranian government, and all that remained was one 35 mm print with English subtitles burned in. Now, audiences all over the world will be able to see this remarkable picture." Martin Scorsese

I was able to see half an hour of Ragbar, Bahram Bayzaie's fine work which I want to see again in its entirety. Cecilia Cenciarelli told in her introduction that Iran's fundamentalist government seized and destroyed all prints of Ragbar, and this restoration was produced from the single surviving source.

The story about a harassed school teacher brings to my mind in some ways Jan Troell's Ole Dole Doff. There is also something Truffautian in the way the children are portrayed. The cinematography is energetic and delightful, the montage fast and lively. The focus is on the pranks of schoolchildren, and in this Ragbar belongs to a main tradition of Iranian cinema, at least as it is known outside Iran. First the children harass the teacher when he is moving to his new apartment with a horse-driven cart. The pranks continue at school, where the teacher has a hard time with discipline. He is a bachelor, and along comes Woman: the big sister of one of the worst of the schoolchildren. - Here I had to leave.

The visual quality of the image seems good, and the restoration has been very well conducted.

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