Lepers in shimmering black-and-white close-ups, their prayers asking (without bitterness) how their object of worship countenanced their lots. Their prayers are unheard, except by the powerless viewer. Devastating, gorgeous, and I never want to see it again.
For me it is the greatest of all Iranian films, at least among the 60 or 70 that I’ve seen to date. More than any other Iranian film that comes to mind, it highlights the paradoxical and crucial fact that while Iranians continue to be among the most demonized people on the planet, Iranian cinema is becoming almost universally recognized as the most ethical, as well as the most humanist.
Farrokhzad wrote, directed, and edited this poetic, 21-minute document of a leper colony in Northern Iran, and it’s the only film she ever made. Her cuts are often jarring, the unexpected relationship between sound and image create a feeling of almost 360-degree immersion in the space. The rhythm of the edits and her juxtaposition of poetic visuals with an unwavering gaze on the inhabitants of the leper colony create a gentle directness that forces the viewer to absolutely focus on her subjects