Did you see the one with the fat man and the leeches? I’d rather not, some will say, but then they'll miss one of the most unusual films of the festival. By an Iranian artist who doesn’t like telling his dreams and prefers to show them. Dreams that speak the truth.
Fat Shaker is no ordinary film - certainly not by Iranian standards. Its maker, Mohammad Shirvani, is an artist who uses powerful and occasionally absurd images. It’s fairly obvious that they say something about the situation in the country, but precisely what is left up to our imagination. Shirvani states concisely that the film aims to criticise the patriarchal system in Iran. The rest has to be told by the images.
The story is about a fat father (obviously the 'fat shaker') who tries to con money from women with his young and attractive yet deaf-and-dumb son. The son allows himself to be picked up by a few young women for light diversion; then they are stopped by the father, who intimidates them and shows a pair of handcuffs. The women have to pay.
At a certain point, father and son pick up a woman who does not allow herself to be intimidated, but takes things into her own hands. And then the film becomes even more surreal - if possible - and the images even stranger. When asked for an explanation, the maker refers to his dreams.
The role of the father is played by Levon Haftvan. He also plays the striking protagonist in the film Parviz (also at this festival). As part of the Inside Iran programme, Mohammad Shirvani has also made a special installation; see Elephant in Darkness in Signals: Inside Iran.