Magazine article New Internationalist

Secret Ballot Directed by Babak Payami

Magazine article New Internationalist

Secret Ballot Directed by Babak Payami

Article excerpt

Iranian cinema celebrates the everyday. It doesn't glory in `special' people or events, in spectacle or thrills. It finds the extraordinary in the rhythms of life, in everyday work and chores, in quiet moments.

Take the opening scenes of Secret Ballot. Across an isolated scrubby beach, a soldier staggers with a wooden crate. He prizes it open, takes out a sheet of paper, reads it. He wakes his comrade, who stirs and stolidly puts on his boots, army shirt, cap, gun. He goes off screen to pee. The first soldier takes off his boots, shirt and cap, and gets into the vacated bunk.

It might not sound it, but it's a marvellous, engrossing opening. We're seven minutes into the film before anyone speaks. Director Payami's unhurried scene-setting is making a point: Secret Ballot is about a clash of cultures and perceptions. Into an age-old unhurrying world, an election official (Nassim Abdi) brings: time schedules and hyperactivity - she has until 5. …

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