Asghar Farhadi's 'A Hero' kicks off Ajyal's ninth edition in Doha

Directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker and DFI collaborator and Qumra Master Asghar Farhadi, the film moved Qatari audiences with its perspectives on social media manipulation.
Asghar Farhadi's 'A Hero' kicks off Ajyal's ninth edition in Doha

As the dangers of social media manipulation become evident across all walks of lives, including its use as a repressive tact by many nations, a powerful film that depicts it against the frailties and failings of ordinary men moved audiences in Qatar as the opening film of the ninth Ajyal Film Festival.

A Hero (Iran, France/2020), directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker and DFI collaborator and Qumra Master Asghar Farhadi, received a healthy round of applause at its screenings at the festival, as it highlighted the anguish of a man who finds himself caught up in a quagmire of increasingly complex moral dilemmas—all stemming from a single, seemingly inconsequential falsehood.

Present at the premiere were leading man Amir Jadidi along with Fereshteh Sadrorafaii who plays a key role in A Hero. While the film needs a few days to totally sink in, with all its greatness and insight, one thing that everyone noticed right away is how different Jadidi is in real life. While Rahim is subdued, an underdog with a look of defeat painted in subtle colours on his face, the actor who plays him is all smouldering good looks. And everyone who got to meet him in person confirmed this statement.

Addressing the media, the film’s cast shared their views on the film, how its theme is relevant to a global audience, as well as on women empowerment and how the location of the film, Shiraz, played an integral role in helping connect the film with the old and new generations.

Jadidi and Sadrorafaii said the most important message that the film conveys is how social media distortions and disinformation campaigns affect people across the world. “The impact of social media platforms is pervasive and is something most people anywhere in the world can relate to,” said Jadidi. “That is also one of the reasons this film will find universal resonance.”

The actor added that the film is essentially ‘human centric.’ “What it shows is that across the world, we need a human standard. The language of humanity is something that people understand irrespective of language or where they are from.” He said he is confident of the film’s success [commercially] because it is all about human connections. 

They said shooting the film in Shiraz was a significant decision as it will address several questions children ask about various issues. “The location, with its rich history, in itself serves as a bridge to engage the older and newer generations.”

Sadrorafaii said it was a privilege to be part of the film, which also underlines the important role that women in play in society today. “Women are half the world and it is important to understand and appreciate their perspective. In fact, it is heartening to be here in Doha and to listen to H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani [Chair of Doha Film Institute] and Fatma Hassan Alremaihi [Chief Executive Officer, Doha Film Institute and Festival Director, Ajyal Film Festival]. We see what women empowerment means here.”

A Hero is a powerful story about Rahim, who finds himself in jail for incurring a business debt he is unable to repay. While on a two-day leave, his girlfriend offers him a gilded opportunity to secure his freedom, albeit at a dubiously immoral price. Unable to balance the weight of his newly ill-gotten gold coins with his conscience, Rahim does the ethical thing and attempts to find their rightful owner by putting up posters around town. But it leads to unintended consequences as Rahim is thrust into the limelight as social media’s latest celebrity. 

The film is Iran's submission to the Best International Feature Oscar race and has had critics divided, Indiewire calling it Farhadi's best film since A Separation, while The Guardian announcing it is "too messy and unsatisfactory."

Ajyal runs from Nov. 7 to 13, 2021 featuring a diverse mix of virtual and in-person events including film screenings, interactive discussions, multi-media art exhibit, Qatar’s largest pop-culture event Geekdom, and a drive-in cinema as part of a multisensory experience for all ages.

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