Dah be alaveh Chahar (10+4) (2007): Iranian Mania Akbari’s New Film

Mania Akbari
10 + 4 (Dah be alaveh Chahar)

Iran, 2007, 77 min., Beta SP

After casting painter and video artist Mania Akbari as the central figure of his groundbreaking Ten (2002), and then witnessing her outstanding debut as a feature director in 20 Fingers (2004), Abbas Kiarostami urged her to direct a sequel to the film.

In Dah be alaveh Chahar (10 + 4), though, circumstances are different: Mania is fighting cancer. She has undergone surgery; she has lost her hair following chemotherapy and no longer wears the compulsory headscarf; and sometimes she is too weak to drive. So the camera follows her to record conversations with friends and family in different spaces, from the gondola she had famously used in her first feature to a hospital bed. Yet, while he body shows the effects of the disease, Akbari is as tough, charismatic, and argumentative as in her previous screen appearances her luminous presence all the more alluring and precious as it becomes a sign of how fragile life itself is. Her cinematic language has been expanded and refined from the rigorous explorations of 20 Fingers, to take into account the unexpected aspects of facing simultaneously death and survival, social stigma and sympathy. Treading an elegant line between documentary and fiction, Akbari takes a daring look at complex social situations that arise in the face of mortalityand emerges with a new zest for life.

10 + 4 walks the delicate line between art and life. Akbari’s last film (the revelatory 20 Fingers) eviscerated male and female relationships, and this time she spares no one, not even herself Often it is the smallest details that stick and tell the hardest truths: a man on motorcycle pulls (the newly bald) Mania over to the side of the road to demand to know whether she is male or female As conversation unfolds in episodic and allusive fashion, the film becomes more than a conventional documentary; it trespasses into the realm of art. Filled with touches of grace and humanity, but never ever sentimental, it is an honest (sometimes brutally so) look at the moments of life that can occur very close to death. Vancouver International Film Festival

The film makes use of simple cinematic techniques. Tight shots allow us to enter into the intimate world of the protagonist, and we were deeply moved by it. Throughout the film, the spectator stays with the progress of the disease and is made a sympathetic witness of it. 10 + 4 left us speechless. statement from the Festival des Trois Continents (Nantes) jury.

This film reflects my inner experience. It is vitally important to expose deep inner truths no matter how difficult and painful they are. 10 + 4 depicts a part of these realities. What is difficult and can’t be said or heard will be seen and this will make healing possible. We have to allow the things that must die within us to die; and allow what has to come to life again or has stayed alive to be. If we do not resist inner death, then real death will appear in all its strength. Mania Akbari

Born in September 1974 in Iran, Mania Akbari began her art career as a painter in 1991, participating in several group exhibitions in Iran and abroad, followed by a series of individual shows. She entered Iranian independent cinema as a director of photography and then as an assistant director in documentaries.

In 2002, Akbari gathered international attention for her spirited and powerful performance in Abbas Kiarostamis acclaimed experiment with digital media, Ten in which she plays the main role, an attractive divorced taxi driver interacting with her contrary young son and female passengers. In 2003, she co-directed a one hour documentary, Crystal. In 2004, she co-produced, wrote, directed and acted in her first feature, 20 Fingers (Beest Angosht), exploring, cinma-vrit style, seven revealing interactions between a man and a woman (each time in a different situation) that mostly take place in a moving vehicle. The film won a prize for best film and best director in the digital cinema competition at the Venice Film Festival in 2004 and has been screened in more than 40 festivals around the world.

Before and after working on 20 Fingers, Akbari completed the six episode of Six Video Arts (2003-2005). In these reflexive, experimental short pieces (Self, Repression, Sin, Escape, Fear and Devastation), she reveals the complex layers of a contemporary Iranian womans psyche and explores the formal possibilities of video art variations on form, shape, color, movement, rhythm, sound-track and multi-screen image to express the tension between tradition and desire, rituals and self-expression. Six Video Arts was shown in Locarno in 2005, and US premiered at REDCAT in January 2006.

The title 10 + 4 is an allusion to the number of years (four) separating Ten from its sequel. In-between, there was the fight with cancer. 10 + 4 was internationally premiered at the San Sebastian International Film Festival last September and has received awards in several international festivals (such as Nantes and Kerala). The same year, Akbari made two additions to her Video Arts: Erosion and Humiliation.

REDCAT is located in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of W. 2nd St. and S. Hope St., inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Tickets may be purchased by calling 213.237.2800 or at www.redcat.org or in person at the REDCAT Box Office on the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets (30 minutes free parking with validation). Box Office Hours: Tue-Sat | noon6 pm and two hours prior to curtain.

The Jack H. Skirball Screening Series is curated by Steve Anker and Brnice Reynaud


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