Society & Culture

good news iran: “Asak” wins International Shorts Award at Ethnographic and Documentary Filmfest Vienna

Tehran (ISNA) – Iranian documentary “Asak” directed by Mahdi Zamanpour Kiasari won International Shorts Award at Ethnocineca – International Documentary Film Festival Vienna, Austria.

The 15th edition of Ethnocineca – International Documentary Film Festival Vienna was held May 6th to 13th, 2021.

“Asak” is a story about human labour and environment. It shows the work of a blind stonemason, Aziz, who goes to the mountains to find rocks, touches and tastes these rocks carefully to select the right ones, then cracks them loose and brings them home to sculpt the stones into decorative items that are sold on the market.

On the one hand this is a process film, which  shows  how  a  rock  is  transformed  into  a  commodity  through  strenuous  human  labour. On the other hand, the process narrative is juxtaposed with scenes of the stonemason’s family life: his daughter and grandchildren, who help him, hug him, cook for him, or talk to him on the phone while he is sculpting the stones.

The jury is impressed by the sensory aspects of the storytelling, which translates at a visual, sonic, and haptic level to show the intimate relation between the stonemason and the rocks. The textures of stones and face, the tasting and fondling of the dusty rocks, and the repetitive sound of the hammer–these and other striking sensory elements work to reveal the corporality of human labour, and its cost. The immersion in daily life, focusing not on the spectacular but on the routines of everyday life, translates into a layered portrait of a stone worker and his social, spatial, and material surroundings. The relation with his daughter raises questions about transgenerational transmission and creates space for imaginary levels that are larger than humankind -through the integration of dreams and fears told by his daughter on the phone and signified by the old man.

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