From Kosovo 2.0
In a recent video essay for the British Film Institute, documentary film maker Robert Greene stated that “The art of non-fiction lies in the tension between chaos and structure.” Chaos and structure. Two polarised creations linked by the tender wisp of fragility itself. This alone could be a sentiment applied to Mark Cousins and Mania Akbari in their latest foray into film – Life May Be
That Mark Cousins has an unwavering love for cinema is no secret (to even glance at his 14 part series – A Story of Film: An Odyssey – is to become enriched by the magic of film). He has overtly and candidly fashioned a career poetically discussing and deconstructing moving images from all corners of our blue globe, yet there is one nation which he continues to return to time and time again – Iran.
Iran is a nation, largely misunderstood by those in the West (where histrionic hyperbole is mistaken for fact), often lumped in with neighbouring Arab lands and unfortunately misrepresented by previous leaders. Yet, over the past fifty or so years, a hotbed of deep and thoughtful filmmakers, whose visions have been both elegiac and hard-hitting, has grown there. From Abbas Kiarostami to Forough Farrokhzad and, most recently, Asghar Farhadi, the leading lights of the first, second and third generations of the Iranian New Wave have boldly presented enlightening pictures of an Iran truthful to their own experiences and far removed from Western stereotypes.
Now, via an elegant call and response system with Iranian actress, filmmaker, artist and all-round poet Mania Akbari, Mark Cousins has chosen to present a series of thoughts, confessions and love letters. These serve as a platform for an involved and perceptive debate on the role of art in shaping, reinforcing, and obliterating our understanding of the world.
Both contributors bare all physically and, in the simple act of publicising these, at times deeply personal, exchanges, emotionally — Akbari, in particular, delves into thoughts pertaining to separation, abandonment, loss of herself as country, scarring as a result of a battle with cancer, scarring as a result of giving birth and scarring by a prohibitive society. Yet, rather than take this as an opportunity to wallow, they both seek to elevate one another, to remind each other of how, across this great vast planet, they have managed to reach out and touch one another with the gift of courage to act, think and feel in ways they perhaps previously might not have dared. The gift of wanting to share experiences with one. And the gift of wanting to live, learn and love as a direct result of the words, images and sound they have shared.
And there is, that word again — love. It is the term which binds them together. The term which helps cultures bridge gaps. The term that drives this film from the off. Whilst it begins from a mutual love and appreciation of the deeds and work of two filmmakers, it then blossoms into a greater and far more affecting love of humanity brought to the forefront by two beautiful humans using the only tool that they truly have, their own selves.
Life May Be is showing at 2pm today in Kino Klubi.