Berlinale Competition: About the Iranian drama Ghasideyeh gave sefid (Ballad of a White Cow)

Ballad of a white cow. —

Mina’s life turns upside down when she learns that her husband Babak has been wrongly charged with the crime for which he was executed. The bureaucracy apologizes for the miscarriage of justice and holds out the prospect of financial compensation. „So a mistake has been made and we are very sorry about it. Of course, nothing can replace your husband, but it was, after all, God’s will, ” the officer told Mina.

As an act of self-respect and for the sake of her deaf daughter, Mina takes up the quiet fight against an apparatus marked by cynicism. Her environment is not particularly helpful: “Guilty or innocent, the poor man is gone. You have to be strong. You’re all she has“, Mina receives as advice. She shouldn’t feel like that, after all, her daughter needs her urgently.

And Babak was very important to his daughter. He brought her closer to the world of film. For her, the cinema is a place of joy; only there is she happy. She would love to watch movies all day. Her father had named her „Bita“ after the main character in the 1972 Iranian drama of the same name by Hajir Dariush.

Just as money is running out, a stranger named Reza suddenly appears at Mina’s door. He says he was a friend of Babak. He claims to have had debts to Babak, which he now wants to pay off. Mina reacts cautiously at first, but finally she lets Reza into her life. The presence of Reza is also good for Mina’s daughter, she blossoms a little. Little does Mina know that a secret binds the two of them together.

After Diplomacie Shekastnapazire Aghaye Naderi (The Invincible Diplomacy of Mr Naderi), Ballad of a white Cow is the second film that Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moghaddam have directed together. Maryam Moghaddam also starred in Sanaeeha’s debut film Ehtemale Barane Acidi (Risk of Acid Rain). In the current film, she also plays the leading role – and carries the film with her presence.

The basic constellation of the film is depressing, the story is told in a deeply convincing manner. The two directors have succeeded in creating a deeply touching, poignant work. Amin Jafari’s camera stays on the faces of the widow and the brother of the executed man for a long time when they learn what happened. This is perhaps one of the most memorable scenes of this Berlinale.

Behtash Sanaeeha
The Iranian filmmaker and producer was born in Shiras. After studying civil engineering, he began writing scripts and directing short films, documentaries, commercials and cartoons for television. His first feature film Risk of Acid Rain dealt with the problems of the Iranian middle class and was shown at over 30 international festivals. Together with Maryam Moghaddam he made the documentary The Invincible Diplomacy of Mr Naderi about an eccentric Iranian who wants to reconcile his homeland with the USA. In 2018 he was a member of the jury for the Ingmar Bergman Award in Sweden.

2015 Ehtemale Barane Acidi (Risk of Acid Rain)
2017 Diplomacie Shekastnapazire Aghaye Naderi (The Invincible Diplomacy of Mr Naderi); Co-director: Maryam Moghaddam
2020 Ghasideyeh Gave Sefid (Ballad of a White Cow); Co-director: Maryam Moghaddam

Maryam Moghaddam
The actress, screenwriter and director was born in Tehran. After graduating from the Performing Arts School in Gothenburg, she worked as an actress in various theaters in Sweden, including the Stadsteater in Gothenburg. The Iranian films she starred in include Closed Curtain by Jafar Panahi and Kambuzia Partovis, which premiered at the Berlinale and won the Silver Bear. She wrote the script for Risk of Acid Rain with Behtash Sanaeeha. They co-directed The Invincible Diplomacy of Mr Naderi.

2017 Diplomacie Shekastnapazire Aghaye Naderi (The Invincible Diplomacy of Mr Naderi); Co-director: Behtash Sanaeeha
2020 Ghasideyeh Gave Sefid (Ballad of a White Cow); Co-director: Behtash Sanaeeha

By Behtash Sanaeeha, Maryam Moghaddam
with Maryam Moghaddam, Alireza Sanifar, Pourya Rahimisam, Avin Purraoufi, Farid Ghobadi
Iran / France 2020
Farsi, 105 minutes

TRIVIA

BITA (1972), the film that gave Babak’s deaf daughter her name, was Hajir Dariush’s only commercially successful film. Dariush was born in Bandar Pahlavi in Iran in 1938. Before he made BITA, he shot a few short films. He was the president of the International Film Festival of Iran in 1966 and he emigrated to France in 1979. He died in 1995.

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