“When Pomegranates Howl” (M) ****
THIS Australian/Afghanistan co-production, financed with assistance from the Adelaide Film Festival and the SA Film Corporation, with post-production by Adelaide’s Artisan Post Group, pulls no punches telling a warm-hearted, affectionate story.
Here, with my abridgements, is what “Variety” says about it: “With his father dead, nine-year-old Hewad has been prematurely thrust into the role of family breadwinner, hauling a produce-laden street cart through the center of Kabul all day for a pittance.
“It’s no life for a pre-teen boy, but Hewad endures it steadfastly, believing eventual movie stardom will be his reward. Played by first-timer Arafat Faiz, you just about believe him.
“The non-professional actor’s quick grin and darting onscreen energy are the animating forces of Iranian-Australian filmmaker Granaz Moussavi’s conventional but effective heart-tugger, which filters the bone-weary experience of the Afghan population under wartime through Hewad’s hopeful perspective – only to undercut his optimism at key, cruel points.”
In a week when five new titles began their Canberra seasons, I chose this film for review because of its idiosyncratic title and I thought from pre-release material that it was from Iran. I have warm recollections of all the Iranian movies that I ever saw – “The Runner”, “The Olive Grove”, “The White Balloon” are stand-outs – and regret that they are not more frequently screened in Australia.
It’s Australia’s nomination for Best Picture at the next Oscars. Makes me proud to be Australian. I hope lots of you will see it. And wait till the end of the credits to learn why. Which makes me sad that it’s Australian, for reasons that happened nearly a decade ago.
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