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For over two decades now, Iranian films have left an indelible mark on the world of cinema. No film festival is complete without an Iranian film, although, in the last couple of years, the number of films has gone down, but just a little.

The cinema of Iran has been studied closely by academics and critics, while film lovers look forward to what comes out every year from the West Asian country that is usually in the news for all kinds of unhappy reasons.

This year at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, Farnoosh Samadi’s debut feature, 180 Degree Rule, is being screened. I have to admit that it is not among the best Iranian films I have seen, but it still has more than enough going for it to leave an impression. Like many Iranian films, this is also about a family and the conflicts within. A school teacher wants to drive down to another city with her little daughter for a wedding; the husband refuses to give her permission, the lady rebels, and then things go downhill – for the wife and, to a regrettable degree, the screenplay as well.

While the film is engaging, if you delve deeper, some of the moral choices made by the characters are questionable, and the ending is far from satisfactory. But on the surface of it, you have to admire how well the film is crafted in terms of deploying its resources, which has been the hallmark of Iranian cinema. Take the use of sound for instance: like in a Hollywood film, you don’t have to show a car tumble five times over from different angles to make an impact – the use of sound can achieve that to a large degree.

I distinctly remember watching the Iranian war film Big Drum Under Left Foot (2005) at IFFI that year, and what a remarkable film it was. It’s a story from the Iran-Iraq war where soldiers from both countries are stuck on either side of a trench. That possibly was the lowest budget war film ever made because all the action associated with war – the sound and the fury – was created using…

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