One of the great figures of Iranian cinema, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, presents his (indirect) take on the Arab Spring and the continuing turmoil of Middle East politics. An international production shot in Georgia, it follows the president (Misha Gomiashvili) of an unnamed country whose repressive rule contrasts with the tenderness he shows to his grandson (Dachi Orvelashvili).
As a rebellion overtakes the territory the pair are forced to flee, disguising themselves as gypsies as they make their way through the country. But they soon gain first-hand experience of the poverty and hunger that are the direct consequences of the President’s disastrous regime.
Although Makhmalbaf began writing the story before the Arab Spring, he regularly revised his screenplay to accommodate aspects of the momentous story as it unfolded during 2011, while also ensuring that no specific country was referenced in a story that echoes the history of numerous Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries.
Like his fellow Iranian director Jafar Panahi (Taxi Tehran), Makhmalbaf has long been targeted by Iranian authorities for his association with the opposition Green Movement, but unlike Panahi he’s chosen to live and work outside the country. Even from a distance Makhmalbaf has mounted an essential films about the changing politics of the Middle East and his most vital work since the prize-winning Kandahar in 2001.