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There’s Hitchcock, Renoir and the influence of many other great directors in Ashgar Farhadi’s films, but the end result is very much his own. His dramas work as modern-day parables – moral tales that are specific to their characters but speak to the world at large. After two domestically-released features, 'Dancing in the Dust' (2003) and 'Beautiful City' (2004), Farhadi gained wider distribution for his riveting third feature 'Fireworks Wednesday' (2006). Set over the course of the Persian New Year, it details the travails of a woman employed as a cleaner by an employer who is in the middle of a domestic battle with her husband. Like the director’s best-know film, the Oscar-winning 'A Separation' (2011), it highlights how the most incendiary situations unfold in the apparent tranquillity of the home. The latter film took the perspective of the family, with the employed carer seemingly in the wrong, but as with all of Farhadi’s work, blame is easy to call out but far more difficult to prove. 'About Elly' (2009), dealing with the disappearance of a young woman amongst a group out for the day, is arguably the director’s most Hitchcockian film, but it’s social critique also recalls Antonioni’s 'L’Avventura' (1960). 'The Past' (2013) is the only film to date set outside Iran. It’s a compelling domestic drama detailing the shift in allegiances when separated couples begin new relationships and the impact they have on family members. 'The Salesman' (2016), which won Farhadi the Best Screenplay and Shahab Hosseini the Best Actor Awards at the Cannes Film Festival, is another moral fable, about an attack on a young, woman, whose narrative and themes are woven into a production of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’. It’s an intelligent and moving film that once again highlight’s the filmmaker’s position as a leading name in world cinema.
Ari Folman was born in 1963 in Haifa, Israel. After completing his military service, he took a trip around the world. His fantastical imagination ran wild in letters written to his friends and family where he fabricated stories about his trip. This convinced him to return home to study cinema and attempt animation. His graduate film, 'Comfortably Numb' (1991) won the Israeli Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Stephen Frears is an esteemed British director whose films favour character and narrative over visual embellishments. He is also known as a 'writer's director', owing to his numerous collaborations with esteemed screenwriters such as Hanif Kureishi and Alan Bennett. Over his illustrious career, Frears has directed many critically and commercially successful films, including 'Dangerous Liaisons' (1988) and 'Philomena' (2013).