Friday, March 22, 2013

LLGFF: Facing Mirrors

Still from Facing Mirrors
As Facing Mirrors opens, Eddie and a friend are in car that gets cut up in Teheran traffic. Rather than let it go, Eddie pursues the driver and gets stopped by police.

This has severe consequences, as Eddie is using his brother's licence and trying to escape his father's attempts to marry him off to a cousin. That he would get involved in a road rage incident in such circumstances shows his impetuous nature.

As Negar Azarbayjani's film progresses, it becomes clear that Eddie was lured back to Iran as he was in the process of transitioning in Germany. He needs to get back there to complete the process and start living his life. But, his very traditional father can only see him as Adineh, the daughter who needs to be married off to protect family honour. So, Eddie goes on the run with taxi driver Rana, who is driving in secret in order to support her son and get her husband out of jail.

The film cuts from Eddie's to Rana's story, as various family members interfere and many misunderstandings and conflicts ensue. Perhaps the point is to show how gender transgression continues to be proscribed in Iran (even while gender reassignment is allowed). The relationship between Eddie and Rana develops in interesting ways, but I found the attempt to position her as some kind of mother figure to the "difficult child" (there is little difference in age) quite problematic and infantilising. The problem isn't the transsexual. It's society's attitudes.

The shorts programme We Can Be Heroes (alas, not about David Bowie) offered a range of gender-queer shorts, among them the very stylish martial arts drama Lee, the amusing Australian doc Queen of the Desert and the German teen drama Who Am I Happy, which was only marred by the unfortunate inclusion of some god-awful Schlager. Surely, "Helden" would have been a better choice?

No comments: