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Apple, The

Director: Samira Makhmalbaf


Iranian films are now amongst the most exciting in world cinema, and the latest to make an impact on the festival circuit is this remarkable feature debut by 18-year-old Samira Makhmalbaf. The Apple is an intriguing combination of drama and documentary. It’s point of departure was a news item about 11-year-old twin girls who were kept virtual prisoners by their impoverished, 65-year-old father and blind mother. Filming in the style of a documentary, Makhmalbaf uses the real family to re-enact their story.
The setting is a run-down part of Teheran, where several families get together to denounce two local parents for keeping their daughters locked behind bars. A social worker is sent to investigate and tackles the old man, who says: My daughters are like flowers – they must not be exposed to the sun or they would soon fade. The social worker at first tries to persuade and ultimately forces the father the give the girls the freedom to explore the outside world.
Makhmalbaf doesn’t judge the father harshly. He is following the archaic codes of tradition, and circumstances dictate that he can only ‘protect’ his daughters by locking them up. Neverless, the film makes its point about the emancipation of women in its own subtle way. Much time is taken up with other youngsters when they are freed by the social worker. In a neat reversal, the father is taught the error of his ways by being locked in his own house. Pointedly, it is one of the daughters who freers her jailer of a father.

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