Mitra Farahani

F.: Daniel Zafer, Mitra Farahani, Fabrice Aragno. M.: Mitra Farahani, Fabrice Aragno, Yannick Kergoat. Int.: Jean-Luc Godard, Ebrahim Golestan. Prod.: Mitra Farahani con Fabrice Aragno, Hamidreza Pejman, Georges Schoucair per Écran noir productions, Casa Azul Films, Hamidreza Pejman, Schortcut Films. DCP. D.: 96’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

A long-distance dialogue between Ebrahim Golestan, a giant of Iranian cinema and literature (now only a few months shy of his 100th birthday), and Swiss-French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard forms the basis of this latest film by Mitra Farahani. Among the most gifted documentarians from Iran, Farahani is able to mediate between two seemingly irreconcilable worlds to create a unique epistolary work. Its elegant, hybrid style takes us from encounters with shadows – the first time we see each of these artists – to the inner lives of flesh and blood individuals: vulnerable, pained, caring, endlessly searching. More than seven years in the making, À vendredi, Robinson is a search for points of convergence – each artist now seen living on his chosen island of solitude but connected through internet technology. Godard, still largely preoccupied with ideas concerning image and language, plays the role of pitcher. Golestan, a man of expansion and clarity, aims to find meaning in the array of audio-visual puzzles he receives. Godard acts as if everything is known by everybody, to which Golestan replies that everybody is not born yet. Farahani brings the idea of ‘parallels’ into the form of the film itself. She even adds her own, as when selected passages from the life of Beethoven are narrated, with the accompaniment of the composer’s music, to complete her puzzle picture of creativity in the twilight of life.
Farahani mysteriously leaves out of the frame the key works made by these two artists, only showing excerpts from their films when one of the two is actually watching one. We see Golestan and his wife (also a central figure in the film) watching JLG/JLG – autoportrait de décembre, and Golestan’s own Hills of Marlik also features. But there is an abundance of other citations – from Wittgenstein to Joyce; Tolstoy to Goya; Chekhov to Johnny Guitar; Puccini to Elias Canetti. Godard recites the closing lines of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man (“but it’s all pretty unsatisfactory”), foregrounding a central theme of the film, while Golestan’s deep admiration for the 13th-century Persian poet Saadi acts as the driving force.
Yet, beyond the printed word and the image, the film finds some of its answers in the ordinary rooms of these two men; in their calculated cycle of life, climbing and descending the stairs. Then there’s the life-and-death parallel that Farahani tries to ward off through her preservation of every banal bit of life that she encounters and manages to translate into poetry.

 Ehsan Khoshbakht

À vendredi, Robinson is a failed correspondence, two parallel courses that never meet.
The scholar Ebrahim Golestan knows the work of Jean-Luc Godard very well and perfectly understands what is going on. And yet he deliberately refuses to give in to Godard’s language. He resists it. His arguments and the rhythm of his prose continue to fight against it, page after page. But Godard, like the true philosopher of art that he is, also refuses and resists… And the film resists both of them, and this failure to connect.
À vendredi, Robinson is a journey that forgoes the main routes and does not lead anywhere, but is enriched instead by veering off-road and exploring the gaps between well-trodden paths.
The film aspires to be a “collection of daily thoughts” in which each of the subjects reveals a part of himself and his solitude. Golestan displays some kind of wisdom when confronted by this inevitable facet of the human condition. Godard, on the other hand, alternates between rebellion and melancholy. And thus every Robinson ends up on their own island: “my solitude recognises yours”.

Mitra Farahani

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