‘Night’-time in Iran
In other SBIFF-related news, psychological thriller The Night has received a license for theatrical release in Iran, serving as a historic benchmark for the country’s filmmaking community as it is the first U.S.-produced film to receive such permission since the revolution more than 40 years ago. Why that matters in our little berg is that The Night – which marks Kourosh Ahari’s feature directorial debut – made its world premiere at Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January. RogerEbert.com’s review said the movie “managed to unnerve me with its remarkable evocation of Kubrickian horror, an aesthetic that has eluded countless imitators.”
The movie was shot stateside but employed a diverse cast and crew made up of predominantly Iranian immigrants who are legal citizens or green card holders, or U.S.-born Iranian-Americans. All of the department heads were also Iranian or of Iranian descent.
The thrillerstars Shahab Hosseini (Cannes 2016 Best Actor winner for The Salesman) and Niousha Jafarian (Here and Now) as an Iranian couple who find themselves locked inside an old hotel with their one-year-old daughter. As they try to cope with the creepy facility, an outside force pushes them to share the secrets they’ve hidden from each other. Whether they are able to leave depends on how carefully they question everything and anyone that comes across their path, perhaps echoing our strange times.
Although The Night has earned a 7.2/10 rating on IMDB.com, there’s still no U.S. distribution, but as cinemas in Iran are beginning to open despite increasing problems with the coronavirus pandemic, the film is looking to debut theatrically over there, perhaps bridging challenging political relations between the two countries.