Critical Zone (2023) Golden Leopard Winner 2023

August 12th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Wri/Dir: Ali Ahmadzadeh | Iran, Drama, 99′

In this dour social realist drama Amir, a drug runner, chases around the backstreets of Tehran trading his wares and dealing with his clients. But he is just one of the disenchanted characters inhabiting this look at the margins of Iranian society, including his dog who provides Amir with continued emotional support during evenings in their dingy basement apartment. In fact, most of the film unfolds in cover of darkness reflecting the grim reality of modern life in the capital, and Ahmadzadeh’s need to shoot in secret without the authorities’ permission.

Ali Ahmadzadeh continued to face pressure from the Iranian authorities to withdraw his film from the Locarno Film Festival main competition – but screen it did – and went on the win the coveted main prize, The Golden Leopard in this year’s 76th edition of the lakeside festival. No doubt Iran’s security ministry will continue to investigate the writer/director.

Critical Zone is aesthetically inventive and convincingly performed in its depiction of the gruelling lives of Iran’s most oppressed youth and in fact anyone who opposes the draconian regime than bans all kinds of alternative ways of living.

Ahmadzadeh rose to the international stage with his debut Kami’s Party at Berlinale 2013. The following year he made an appearance there with Atomic Heart. Critical Zone is his fourth feature. MT




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