Endless Borders (2023) IFFR 2023

February 2nd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Abbas Amini; Cast: Pouria Rahimi Sam, Mino Sharifi, Behafarid Ghaffarian, Naser Sajjadi Hosseini, Ghalem Sakhi Nazari | Iran/Czech Republic/Germany 2023, 111 min.

Iranian writer/director Abbas Amini (The Slaughterhouse) explores personal and political struggles in this complex drama set in a remote village in Balochistan near the Iranian-Afghanistan border. Shifting alliances dominate, with the main protagonist having to face a truth he had denied for a long time.

Ahmad Vaezi (Sam) has been exiled from his native Iran for political reasons. Now living in a small Afghan community that comes under regular scrutiny from the border forces he serves as both teacher and doctor. But Ahmad has got off lightly. His partner Nilofar (Sharifi) has just been released on probation after a two-year imprisonment, accused of similar offences. Clearly the separation has put their relationship under strain and they struggle to contact one another.

A fresh wave of controversy confronts Ahmad one day when sixteen-year old Hasebah (Ghaffarian) desperately asks him for help to escape the village with Balaj (Hosseini), a local young man who has fallen in love with her. She also reveals that, on account of her father’s bankruptcy, she was forced to marry the village elder – who Ahmad had always assumed to be her father. To complicate matters further, family honour dictates that the elder’s son will kill Hasebah if she is caught trying to leave.

Despite the danger, Ahmad and the two lovers flee to Tehran where the teacher’s life becomes even more complicated when he is accused by Nilofar’s father of putting her life at risk due to his actions. The father has, meanwhile, given his house as security for Nilofar’s bail. This puts further pressure on Ahmad and his partner, and they decide, along with Balaj and Hasebah to continue their onward journey to freedom in Turkey, via a perilous trafficking arrangement, Ahmad insists to the reluctant Nilofar that he only joined the political resistance group out of love for her. At a dangerous river-crossing they are ambushed by the border patrol, and Ahmad is forced to make a life defining decision.                       

Religious affiliations seem to loom large in this fraught environment where once again it causes most of the conflict, not only socially but personally. The villagers are against the Taliban, not so much for their treatment of women, but because they follow another religious law. At the height of the couples’ dramatic escape into Turkey, Balaj refuses to even wear clothes that are associated with another Islamic group, even when his life is in danger. 

DoP Saman Lotfian follows the action with his handheld camera, focusing on middle distance shots or close-ups. Ahmad is a complex main character who belies his ‘holier that thou’ persona in a mature and analytical feature full of contradictions and unexpected twistsAS


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