20 Fingers (2004/Iran)

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20 Fingers (2004/Iran)

Postby trevor826 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 6:57 am

Moved from Middle Eastern Magic thread.

20 Fingers (2004)

Directed by Mania Akbari, dedicated to Abbas Kiarostami

Starring Mania Akbari, Bijan Daneshmand

Mania Akbari, best known as the actress in Abbas Kiarostami's "Ten" wrote, directed and starred in this film which is a series of seven conversations between a man and a woman. In each section Bijan Daneshmand plays the part of the man, he also produced the film.

Each of the conversations deals with a different topic that raises differences between men and women, 1 or 2 are issues which are more prominent within a Muslim or other strict religious society but the majority are universal.

The first section caused the film to be banned in Iran, a woman's virginity is forcibly taken by her fianc, why? because in his words "I had to be sure" that she was a virgin. Immediately you are thrown into a society where the majority of women are treated as second class citizens, checked to ensure their virginity is intact before marriage because the loss of it is a source of deep family shame. The woman worries how she will explain the bloody stain to her family while the man appears pretty blas about the whole incident.

Each section picks up a different issue - petty jealousy and attention seeking, abortion and the importance of having a son to carry on the family line, infidelity, what it would be like to be the opposite sex and even lesbianism. The conversations are natural and frank, you feel as though you are eavesdropping on the couples. Apart from one of the sections, the conversations all occur in moving vehicles representing the journeys couples embark on together through life.

The chapters are well filmed and special note must be made on the third part which was filmed in busy traffic in Tehran, the couple start of on a motorbike with a young child, because they keep arguing the wife and child disembark from the bike and get a lift from a passing car, the husband on his bike forces the car to pull over, the wife and child exit and after another argument they all ride off on the bike again. Doesn't sound too impressive till you realise it was all done in a single take, no cutting or editing and in real traffic, very skilled film making.

As already noted, a lot of these issues are universal but probably more emphasised because of the strict religious background, it is common around the world that a man who puts it about is a stud and is held in esteem by his peers while a woman who does the same is a tart or slut, not only in the eyes of men but of other women as well, something isn't quite right with that ideology.

As far as the title goes, I had assumed before seeing the film that the "20 Fingers" referred to the couples, 2 hands each, 20 fingers between them. During the film we're told through one of the conversations that it refers to a remark the woman's Grandmother had made along the lines of "The 20 fingers represented the number of men a woman could sleep with and still be regarded as a woman, any more than 20 and she would be regarded as a prostitute, I was taken aback at this because 20 is a hell of a lot for a man or woman.

This is very brave film-making and hopefully we will see more from Mania Akbari, Recommended viewing.

Cheers Trev

BBFC not rated but probably 15 - adult themes.
trevor826
 


Re: 20 Fingers (2004/Iran)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:10 pm

Thanks for starting this thread, Trevor.

[My comments originally posted on 03/04/05]

The controversial debut feature from 30-year old Mania Akbari (the attractive star of Kiarostami's Ten) could easily have been titled "Seven." This episodic film (containing seven vignettes) portrays the burgeoning relationship between a husband (Bijan Daneshmand) and wife (Ms. Akbari herself) as they discuss many issues important to them and to the society they live in. The conversations, which mostly take place inside a moving object (after all the film is dedicated to Mr. Kiarostami), range from such issues as intimacy, abortion, jealously, extra-marital affairs, etc. Each episode slowly gains momentum as Akbari zooms in, catching every nuance and gesture. Long traveling shots through the streets of Tehran are simply mesmerizing, but what truly stands out is the dialogue: every word uttered has a hidden danger lurking behind it. A sensational debut!
arsaib4
 

Re: 20 Fingers (2004/Iran)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:24 pm

[an exchange on 05/14/05]

arsaib4 on trevor826

The chapters are well filmed and special note must be made on the third part which was filmed in busy traffic in Tehran, the couple start of on a motorbike with a young child, because they keep arguing the wife and child disembark from the bike and get a lift from a passing car, the husband on his bike forces the car to pull over, the wife and child exit and after another argument they all ride off on the bike again. Doesnt sound too impressive till you realize it was all done in a single take, no cutting or editing and in real traffic, very skilled film making.

I'd like to see a behind-the-scenes doc. for that part and how it was accomplished. I'm still in awe of it.

The 20 fingers represented the number of men a woman could sleep with and still be regarded as a woman, any more than 20 and she would be regarded as a prostitute. I was taken aback at this because 20 is a hell of a lot for a man or woman.

I thought that was meant to be taken as metaphorical than anything else. In the manner it was said made it clear to me, but I could be wrong.

At the screening, Mania Akbari said that she initially wanted each vignette to be played upon a different couple, but changed her mind after the first one. I found that interesting.

What did you make of the opening shot?
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trevor826 on arsaib4

I thought that was meant to be taken as metaphorical than anything else. In the manner it was said made it clear to me, but I could be wrong.

20 Fingers came on the last of 4 long nights of Iranian cinema and documentaries, it is a tremendous piece of cinema especially when you consider it is the first feature film directed by Mania Akbari. I think you're right that the remark re "20 Fingers" was metaphorical but my excuse for taking it literally is that I was knackered and on the tail end of a feast of great films from Iran.

What did you make of the opening shot?

The simplest explanation of the first shot is "nostalgia", happily remenising for the lost innocence and playfulness of childhood and the moment of it passing, the voice of her mother echoing in her mind as a distant memory, these times of innocence and playing games were brought up a few times during the film.

At the screening, Mania Akbari said that she initially wanted each vignette to be played upon a different couple, but changed her mind after the first one. I found that interesting.

I am going to try and watch each section in a time order to see if it fits as one couple or as I originally thought, several different couples. Mania was at the screening! why don't I get that sort of luck?

I'd like to see a behind-the-scenes doc. for that part and how it was accomplished. I'm still in awe of it.

Before the film there was a short interview with Mania which also had clips showing the filming of the third section, Mania said they tried it 5 times until she was happy with the result, it looks even more chaotic from behind the scenes and hopefully there will be good "making of" docs on the DVD when it's released.

There have been many films covering the psychological battle of the sexes but I found this one fresh and enthralling.

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arsaib4 on trevor826

The simplest explanation of the first shot is "nostalgia", happily remenising for the lost innocence and playfulness of childhood and the moment of it passing, the voice of her mother echoing in her mind as a distant memory, these times of innocence and playing games were brought up a few times during the film.

It can certainly be discussed in detail, but that may require revealing of certain plot points. I thought the scene also had some sexual connotations.

I am going to try and watch each section in a time order to see if it fits as one couple or as I originally thought, several different couples. Mania was at the screening! why don't I get that sort of luck?

I believe you'll come to the conclusion that we simply visited the same couple at various stages of their life. I'd also like to see the film again, but I doubt that will happen, certainly not on the big screen.

Before the film there was a short interview with Mania which also had clips showing the filming of the third section, Mania said they tried it 5 times until she was happy with the result, it looks even more chaotic from behind the scenes and hopefully there will be good "making of" docs on the DVD when it's released.

I'm not surprised that it took them a while to get it right. Hopefully, the film will become available on DVD in the U.K because I don't see that happening here.
arsaib4
 

Re: 20 Fingers (2004/Iran)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:42 pm



Well, thanks to Facets Multimedia, 20 Fingers is now available on DVD in the U.S. I'm told that there are no extra features on the disc.

I'll definitely be watching it again soon; I'd really like to sort out whether the film featured the same 2 actors as "different couples" or not.
arsaib4
 

Re: 20 Fingers (2004/Iran)

Postby trevor826 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:36 am

Great to see it's finally getting a well deserved dvd release though I would have thought there would be extras in some form, interviews or behind the scenes. I'm surprised that Artificial Eye or any of the UK distributors have failed to pick 20 Fingers up but the U.S. release may prompt some action.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 


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