The House is Black (Khaneh siah ast)

The House is Black

There is no shortage of ugliness in the world.

I’ve had a rather busy weekend, so once again I’m opting for one of my remaining short films. I’ve spun the roulette wheel, and landed on Khaneh Siah Ast, or The House is Black, a short by an Iranian poet by the name of Forugh Farrokhzad. This would be Farrokhzad’s only film, and you know what; if this is all she has decided to leave behind in terms of her potential film career, then she has done more than enough. This is one of the most perfect and well done short documentaries I have ever seen.

The film is all about a leper colony, and what amounts to life for the people who live there. A simple topic, but one that, thanks to Farrokhzad’s temperament and approach, invites a lot of potential discussion. These people are more than just their suffering; we see them praying and thanking God for the gift of life he has given them, enjoying the wonders of the world around them, and generally being a lot more uplifting than anyone would think they’d have the right to be. This film is raw, and as such, it has a great power to it, as well as a brilliant sense of film aesthetic and editing. Farrokhzad brings her sense of poetry to the screen with surprising grace and versatility; she proves just as adept at creating poetic imagery as well as poetic words, and here she uses both in combination to achieve the effect she wishes.

Yet again, I started a film with almost no expectations, and was blown away by what I saw. Of course, there was an overwhelming sense of sorrow and pity when watching the footage of these misshapen and physically deformed individuals, but what really took me was that there was so much more than that. This was, to put it in a single word, beautiful, and I wasn’t expecting that from a film about the sufferers of leprosy. This is the type of short documentary that makes me want to explore the genre further, and that’s impressive as hell for a documentary. This is definitely one that should be on your radar, even if you wouldn’t otherwise be able to watch it without flinching. Don’t worry, there’s a lot more to this one than that.

Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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