Magazine article Screen International

Life May Be

Magazine article Screen International

Life May Be

Article excerpt

Dirs: Mark Cousins, Mania Akbari. UK-Iran. 2014. 85mins

The latest essay from irrepressible cineaste Mark Cousins takes the form of an epistolary exchange with Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari. What begins as a tentative exploration of her influences and methods eventually blossoms into a lofty, wide-ranging discussion of freedom, democracy, the solitude of exile and the urge to break the mental and physical boundaries that might restrict creative expression.

Life May Be may sound didactic and dry but Akbari's scrapbook of memories and photos is charming and Cousins can be playful in both his provocations and self-awareness.

The result is a heady combination of intellectual discourse and seductive images that should readily secure further Festival exposure following its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It also provides some invaluable context and insight into Akbari's career.

Cousins was asked to contribute to the extras in a dvd release of Akbari's 2011 feature One. Two. One (Yek. Do. Yek). He wrote her a letter that he now reads over footage of forest scenes in Scotland. It provides a succinct reminder of Akbari's place in Iranian cinema as a performer in Kiarostami's Ten and the director of 20 Fingers and others. An effusive Cousins compares her to Scorsese, Bergman and a renaissance artist, also claiming " you are to Iran what Virginia Woolf was to England." She responds with personal reflections on her life in exile in London, what she left behind in Tehran and how difficult it is to escape the pain of the past.

Tired and emotional in Lithuania, Cousins responds by writing in praise of nakedness as a source of joy and liberation. …

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