What else is a film fest for?

Obviously, you must seize the rare opportunity to behold the star-studded, anti-drug espionage extravaganza, The Poppy Is Also a Flower, mostly filmed in Iran in the mid-1960s, extracted from a story by Ian Fleming, and narrated by Grace Kelly. But several other films playing at the city's sixth annual Iranian Film Festival, while subtler, perhaps warrant your attention, too. They tend to excel at harnessing the innate drama (or comedy) and metaphorical politics of domestic tension, usually in service of sly but humane inspections of a deeply patriarchal society. Consider Meeting Leila, in which a woman (A Separation's Leila Hatami) agrees to marry a man (director Adel Yaraghi) only if he'll quit smoking. He works for an ad agency and considers lighting up essential to his creative process. But she's a perfume tester, so there's a professional concern on her side as well. Or consider Silk, in which a middle-aged woman reflects mournfully on the marriage that was arranged for her before she even hit puberty. Must her pre-adult circumstances determine her adult life? Or Everything Is Fine Here, in which a young woman's plans for marriage are shattered by rape — and by the societal expectation that every bride should be a virgin. For that matter, consider Simin, Resident of a Wandering Island, a portrait of novelist and translator Simin Daneshvar, the so-called "Queen of Persian Prose" whose life and work reflected Iran's difficult modern history, particularly from a female perspective. Yes, it's a lot to consider — and there's much more — but what else is a film fest for?

Sept. 28-29, 11 a.m., 2013
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