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Posted on Monday 25/06/2012 June, 2012 by Francesca Rudkin
This week I just have to start my picks of the week with the Iranian film Women Without Men, screening on Tuesday 26th June at 8.30pm.

This week I just have to start my picks of the week with the Iranian film Women Without Men, screening on Tuesday 26th June at 8.30pm.

The debut feature from celebrated contemporary artist Shirin Neshat, Women Without Men is an adaptation of the novel by Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur. A photographer and visual artist, Neshat was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States aged 17 and before the Islamic Revolution. She does a remarkable job bringing to life what is a complex and metaphor heavy novel that is written in the magic realist style.

The film focuses on four Iranian women from different social classes who are living in Tehran during 1953; the year a British and American backed coup removed the democratically elected government and popular Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. It manages to successfully pull together the story of both this turbulent period in Iran’s social and political history, and the personal stories and spiritual crises experienced by each woman.

The wider politics is played out in the real world, while the individual experiences of these women are explored in a metaphorical and biblically inspired walled garden in the country. It’s a device that gives their stories a universal and timeless quality, and allows Neshat to go to town with her artfully shot imagery.

Intense, emotional and with dreamlike cinematography Women Without Men is an audacious and arresting debut, even if it does occasionally get swamped in metaphor.

With 5000 miles of coastline and coastal waterways, Florida has always been an attractive destination for drug smugglers. In Godfather’s of Ganja: Square Grouper (Thursday 24th May, 8.30pm), Cocaine Cowboys director Billy Corben tells three unrelated stories about marijuana smugglers in Miami and South Florida who made big money in the 70s and 80s.

The most interesting of these stories is first up, and tells the story of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, who successfully mixed drugs, religion and commerce until the smell of pot drifting over Florida’s prestigious Star Island caught the neighbour’s attention. We then hear the story of the Black Tuna Gang, a bunch of average guys who became the middle men for marijuana smuggling from Columbia. They don’t see too much wrong with their choice of import business, and spend of the time detailing how they were framed by the FBI for witness tampering and threatening to kill a judge. Finally we head to the small redneck town of Everglades City where it seems everyone was in on marijuana smuggling. Collectively, these are about the nicest and most non-violent drug smugglers you can imagine.

Your laugh for the week is provided by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s hilarious The Trip (Saturday 30th June, 8.30pm). This largely improvised comedy is directed by Michael Winterbottom and sees Steve and Rob play characterised versions of themselves as they travel around Northern England reviewing restaurants and discussing life. Originally a BBC television series it was then was pulled together into this feature film for the American market, where it garnered rave reviews. It isn’t surprising; it’s one of those little gems that is as heartwarming as it is funny.


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