The Unforgettable Transcendence of THE WHITE MEADOWS

GFI Director of Programs, Santhosh Daniel, on the U.S. release of Mohammad Rasoulof’s Iranian mythology

Mohammad Rasoulof

In the last year, much has been said about Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof’s narrative masterpiece, THE WHITE MEADOWS; it is an amazing work of cultural insight, universally lauded for its stunning cinematography and narrative complexity, and a film that we are proud to present in Global Lens 2011.

But it’s also a film that is not without controversy.  As many know, in late December, Mohammad was sentenced to prison, along with his editor—Iranian director Jafar Panahi—for making this as well as other films, and the circumstances are as a complicated as any conflict between artistic vision, government and culture.

As the distributor and by definition, presenter of Mohammad’s cinematic vision to audiences in the United States, we carry a responsibility to ensure THE WHITE MEADOWS is seen in as many cities and venues as possible. Alternately, as a longtime supporter of the exchange of images and ideas through cinema—and as public outcry transforms Mohammad’s art into an icon of politic and protest—we are also compelled to remind people of this very simple truth:

A scene from THE WHITE MEADOWS

THE WHITE MEADOWS is a beautiful and uncommon film. As a work of art, it is an intoxicating blend of story and brushstroke—a lone boatman wanders across a horizon to infinity, collecting tears, and no written description can capture the essential beauty of such an image.  And as a work of art, it is at times confusing and dreamlike, perhaps more so to those of us who have never seen the landscape or psyche of a nation so widely debated, so beautifully painted.

On the eve of our release of THE WHITE MEADOWS, this is our response when asked about this film.   It is a work of many dimensions and although it may be eventually defined as a moniker of struggle, we are reminded that at its exquisite heart it was also meant to affect our perspective of a world we only know at a distance—in more ways than those dictated by current circumstances.

The Global Film Initiative extends its deep and steadfast support to Mohammad Rasoulof, and we encourage you all to see THE WHITE MEADOWS.  It is a living representation of the oft-repeated phrase that opens every Global Lens series—‘every person has a voice, every voice tells a story, and every story reveals a world’—and much like the individual who created it, it is a work that should not be overlooked, ignored or stifled, and a vision that will outlive any moment in time.

THE WHITE MEADOWS will be presented at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the Global Lens 2011 series from January 13th-28th.  It will also be co-presented by the Global Film Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from late-January to late-February, and then tour various locations in the United States and Canada as part of Global Lens 2011.

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