A Week with Azar
It is said one should pay attention to the details of the story at a certain point in A Week with Azar. This is good advice since Tara Najd Ahmadi´s short film depends on the nuances of how the political can suddenly intrude on the personal. On January 27, 2017 Donald Trump initiated his first travel ban against seven Muslim majority countries. Among those affected was Iranian-born Azar, the young woman at the center of Ahmadi´s film. She was no longer able to leave the country to visit her terminally ill sister - mind you, not leave the USA for Iran. This fact is most relevant because the film ingeniously shifts perspectives, and with surprising results.
Ahmadi´s film treats the effects of Trump´s decision in the form of a poetic diary, combining strategies of the photographic novel, documentary film and essay. It articulates the contradictions of migration by maintaining a subjective perspective. The images are mainly associative, and unlike the hero of the film, they transcend space and boundaries. At one point, an extended tracking shot over grass leads to a monument.
But it is also important how Azar gives expression to her independence. She crafts a papier-mâché head as tall as a man to express her fury. Ahmadi´s editing utilizes various tempi. The materials she uses for her images change, leading also "to the other side", to sandstorms in Iran. The filmmaker likewise allows thoughts to wander, to linger on certain images, as in the case with a woman who almost magically balances on a rope.
Perhaps it is the image of ocean waves that leaves the longest lasting impression. She questions off-screen whether immigration really was a step forward. Not a simple question. Ahmadi finds an apt image in the surf breaking back in the reverse direction to represent the complicated matter of freedom in these times. (Dominik Kamalzadeh)
Translation: Eve Heller
Yek haefteh ba azar
Iran, Slovenia, USA
Tara Najd Ahmadi